The Washington Redskins have the worst secondary in the NFL, and it was evident on Sunday against Andrew Luck and the Colts' high-powered passing attack. Washington defensive backs blew coverage assignments on several occasions, allowing Indianapolis receivers to run unmolested in the Redskins' backfield and score four touchdowns of 30 or more yards. They also failed to catch Colts' running back, Dan Herron, en route to a 49-yard rushing touchdown.
Are they really the worst in the NFL though? After all, this did happen against one of the league's best quarterbacks and the defense ranks 15th in passing yards allowed. Unfortunately for the Redskins, statistics that look at season-long totals are often the most misleading of stats, and that is certainly true in this case.
Here are some efficiency rankings that paint a much more accurate picture of the quality of the Redskins' secondary: 28th in interceptions, 30th in passing touchdowns allowed, 31st in QB rating allowed and 32nd in yards per attempt allowed. The Redskins' secondary is also considered to be extremely poor by advanced metrics sites; both Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus have the Redskins as the 31st ranked team in pass coverage (separated out from pass rushing). Advanced Football Analytics has the Redskins passing defense ranked dead last in expected points added and expected points added per play.
The offensive line, defensive line and the quarterback position are all areas of major concern for this team, but are the Redskins really thinner in any area more than they are in the secondary? I knew it was bad, but this game really showcased just how dire the need for help in the secondary is. What I didn't know, was what I was going to write about in this space, but after I unwittingly created a poll that listed every secondary position as a position in need of an upgrade it became clear that this needed to be discussed. It should also be very clear to the Washington Redskins that the secondary is their primary area of concern.
51 Snaps were run against the Defense
29 Passing Snaps (57%)
22 Rushing Snaps (43%)
- The 51 defensive snaps is the third lowest total for the Redskins in 2014 (50 snaps against the Jaguars and Buccaneers).
- The Redskins' defense faced off against the Colts' offense on 13 drives in yesterday's game. The Colts scored touchdowns on six of those drives (46%). They also turned it over and punted three times each.
- The defense was responsible for three of the Redskins' ten accepted penalties (20 yards). Ryan Kerrigan and Jarvis Jenkins were called for neutral zone infractions and Chase Minnfield was flagged for pass interference. David Amerson and Bashaud Breeland committed illegal use of hands penalties on back-to-back first-quarter plays; both penalties were declined because the plays resulted in a first down and a touchdown respectively.
|Down||# of Plays||Short (1-3 yards)
||Medium (4-6 yards)
||Long (7 + yards)
- The defense was only able to force a third down on 8 of the Colts' 26 offensive sets of downs. That rate of 31% is incredibly low. This had a lot to do with the Colts quickly finishing most of their drives with long touchdown plays or the rare turnover when they were either feeling generous or sorry for the Redskins.
- When the Redskins weren't allowing the Colts to run free in the secondary and hit long touchdown bombs, they actually did a decent job of keeping Indianapolis out of short yardage situations on second and third down. The Colts' offense faced second-and-long and third-and-long on 60% and 75% of their respective plays from those downs.
- Even those efforts were all for naught though, as the defense allowed Indianapolis to convert on five of their eight 3rd-down attempts (63%).
|Name (*-denotes starter)||Position||Snaps||Snap %|
|Bashaud Breeland *||CB||51||100%|
|Ryan Clark *||FS||51||100%|
|Perry Riley *||ILB||51||100%|
|David Amerson *||CB||50||98%|
|Keenan Robinson *||ILB||48||94%|
|Ryan Kerrigan *||OLB||48||94%|
|Trent Murphy *||OLB||46||90%|
|Barry Cofield *||NT||30||59%|
|Jason Hatcher *||DE||27||53%|
|Brandon Meriweather *||SS||27||53%|
|Chase Minnifield *||CB||21||41%|
- Jason Hatcher, Keenan Robinson and Brandon Merriweather saw season-low snap totals against the Colts. Hatcher and Robinson's low snap figures were mainly the result of there being so few overall defensive snaps in the game for Washington. Merriweather was injured early in the second quarter.
- Chase Minnifield and Greg Ducre stepped in for the injured E.J. Biggers and Tracy Porter, both players set new season-highs in snaps recorded.
- Will Compton saw his first defensive action since before the Week 10 bye.
- After recording their first significant number of defensive snaps in months against the 49ers last week, both Akeem Davis and Trenton Robinson did not receive a snap on defense and were relegated to purely special teams roles.
Special Teams Snaps
- Frank Kearse (unsportsmanlike conduct) and Philip Thomas (offsides) were flagged for penalties on back-to-back special teams plays in the third quarter.
- Former practice squad player and newest addition to the 53 man roster, Steve Beauharnais, did not record a defensive snap, but he saw plenty of work on special teams. Beauharnais led Washington with 23 teams snaps.
- The Redskins became the first NFL team to allow six touchdowns of 30 or more yards since 1966.
- Andrew Luck averaged 13.7 yards per pass attempt against Washington in Sunday's game. That is the third best yards per attempt average by a quarterback with 25 or more attempts against Redskins in a game since 1960.
- The 49 points allowed is tied for the fourth most points allowed by a Washington team since 1961 (53 years ago). It is tied with four other games for the 9th most points allowed in the franchise's history (including playoffs). Three of the games that rank in the top 13 for most points allowed by a Redskins team have taken place in the last seven years.
**Statistics derived from Advanced Football Analytics, ESPN, NFL GSIS, Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference**