LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. – Eight weeks into the NFL season, the Washington Redskins’ defense – a unit ranked dead last (32nd) in the NFL a year ago, is second best in rushing yards allowed per game and sixth best in rushing yards per attempt. The reason for that improvement? Tunnel vision.
In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Redskins drafted with reason. These are the first words from Washington head coach Jay Gruden following the team’s selection of Alabama defensive tackle Daron Payne.
“Big, strong, physical guy,” Gruden said. “You see what`s going on in our division with Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott and Philadelphia, the way they run the ball. Our ranking on defense wasn`t quite up to speed.”
Barkley and Elliott, eh?
The Redskins (5-and-2 overall, 2-and-0 in NFC East) have faced those two players each of the past two weeks – both victories for the burgundy and gold. In those two games, Barkley and Elliott combine to rush for 71 yards and zero touchdowns. The longest run by either player in either game? Nine yards.
“We’ve invested some resources in the defense hoping they would pay off,” Gruden said after Sunday’s 20-13 victory vs. the Giants. “Jonathan [Allen] and [Daron] Payne and obviously Preston [Smith] and [Ryan] Kerrigan, he’s a first rounder. Going out and getting Josh [Norman] and D.J. [Swearinger] and re-signing Zach Brown. In this division, you have to play great defense in my opinion. This is critical for our success. Until we get going offensively, we have to win games like this and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Tuesday, the Redskins pour even more resources into its defense, as the team trades for Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Sunday, the Redskins host the Atlanta Falcons at FedEx Field. News 3, Hampton Roads’ home of the ‘Skins, will have live pregame and postgame coverage.