The Washington Redskins defense has proved it can go from zero to 10 in seven days — and then back to zero just as quickly.
The Redskins didn't have a sack in Weeks 1 and 3, but they tied a franchise record by hitting double digits in Week 2. It's just one of several anomalies for a defense ranked No. 4 in the NFL in yards allowed despite the team's 1-2 record.
The defense allowed only two touchdowns in the first games, and both were directly attributable to second-year safety Bacarri Rambo, who was promptly cut. It then allowed three offensive touchdowns to the Philadelphia Eagles despite holding LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles to a mere 74 combined yards rushing and receiving.
Nick Foles threw 41 passes in that game, and Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was practically shaking his head because, according to his count, his players hit Foles in shape or form a total of 15 times with nary a sack to show for it.
"I give it to Nick last week. He was on," Haslett said. "We had 15 quarterback hits; we didn't get him down. But he had pressure. He threw two great balls with guys draped on him. I don't know how he got 'em off."
Now Haslett is preparing for a short week — a Thursday game against the New York Giants — with an uncertain handle on who is healthy enough to play. DeAngelo Hall is out for the season with a ruptured Achilles, nickel cornerback Tracy Porter appears set to return after missing the first three games with a pulled right hamstring, defensive end Jason Hatcher is also nursing a hamstring injury, and linebacker Brian Orakpo will wear a large cast on his hand to protect a torn ligament in his left middle finger.
Haslett has also dealt with a two-game suspension for safety Brandon Meriweather, who looked rusty in his season debut against the Eagles. Backup safety Duke Ihenacho is done for the season with a broken bone in his left foot.
So, after he walked out of the Redskins' practice bubble after Tuesday's walkthrough, Haslett became another advocate for the obliteration of Thursday night games.
"I don't like night games period," he said. "It's after my bedtime."
If his boss, Jay Gruden, sounded more enthusiastic about the prime-time affair, it was only because of the caffeine. Asked about the rushed schedule for his first Thursday game as a head coach, Gruden said: "I'm a little jittery right now. I've had 17 cups of coffee."
Rookie Bashaud Breeland is prepared to make his first NFL start in place of Hall. Haslett said the fourth-round pick from Clemson has proven to be a dedicated student who spends extra hours watching tape and has more speed than coaches anticipated.
"It's one of my goals to come in and be an NFL starter," Breeland said. "I hate for it to be this way with 'D' being out, but it's the next man up. ... I have to fill that void, fill those big shoes."
But more timely would be the return of Porter, the veteran free agent who was signed to be the No. 3 cornerback. Porter pulled his hamstring in preseason, then came back too soon and aggravated it. Had he been healthy, he would be starting in place of Hall; instead he's fallen behind Breeland.
"That's always tough, when you come to a new team and they have high expectations, just as you have high expectations, and you have a minor setback," Porter said. "But it happens, and now I'm ready to roll."
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