Through 5 games the Redskins defense ranks near the bottom of the league in just about every defensive category. If you watched the first two and a half games of the season, that would be expected as the defense was ripped to shreds. If you watched the past 10 quarters of play though you would probably be pretty surprised that the defense is ranked so low.
The defense perhaps has become the Monsters of the Midway or the Steel Curtain, but these past two and a half games this defense has played well enough to win football games. Consider the following numbers: (note: these numbers don't include the safety, or the blocked punt and punt return for TD's)
In the first 10 quarters of the season:
86 points allowed, 1,281 yards allowed, 69 first downs allowed, 5 penalties
In the last 10 quarters of the season:
41 points allowed, 694 yards allowed, 41 first downs allowed, 3 penalties
That is a huge difference between the two halves of the season, with over twice as many points, and 54% more yardage allowed in the first half of the season.
Let's look at it another way and bring last year in as a comparison. Let's take a look at the differences in per quarter averages:
The per quarter average this year: 6.35 points allowed, 98.75 yards allowed, 5.5 first downs
The per quarter average last year (includes any non-defensive points): 6.06 points, 94.42 yards, 5.31 first downs
The per quarter average 1st 10 quarters: 8.6 points allowed, 128.1 yards, 6.9 first downs
The per quarter average 2nd 10 quarters: 4.1 points allowed, 69.4 yards, 4.1 first downs allowed
This to me really highlights the difference in how the defense has played in these last 10 quarters. Overall the Redskins defense may look to be even worse than what they did last year, but the reality is it's all due to a horrific start to the year. These last 10 quarters though this defense has been really impressive and played at an extremely high level.
Another thing to consider about this defensive performance the last 2 and a half games is that of those 41 points, 14 came against an extremely short field. In the Cowboys game, Dallas scored two touchdowns off short fields after a 90 yard kick return and a fumble at the 3 yard line. While you'd of course love to see the defense hold there, you can hardly blame the defense completely for those points.
The defense has done their job these past ten quarters, but the Redskins are just 1-2 in these games (the defense wasn't to blame for the Lions loss even with their first half performance). The defense has not only played well enough to win these games, but they've more or less dominated with the exception of a drive or two. The offense and special teams need to step up as you can't really ask the defense to do too much more.