(NBC)–The Redskins’ defense has struggled to force pressure or turnovers, something that needs to change when the Eagles visit on Sunday.
“We’re stopping the run fairly well,” head coach Jay Gruden said Monday. “We’ve just got to figure out ways to get the ball out, get them into some third-and-long and then bring some pressure.”
Washington’s 832 yards allowed is fourth best in the NFL. However, its one takeaway is tied for last with Jacksonville, and its minus-5 turnover margin is second worst to Indianapolis.
The Redskins’ four sacks are better than only four other defenses. In Thursday’s 32-21 loss at the Giants, Washington failed to sack Eli Manning and hit him only twice.
“We’ve got to force the issue a little bit more,” said linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who has a half-sack in three games after leading the team with 13 1/2 last season.
The Redskins (1-2) have outgained all three opponents. Against the Eagles (1-2), they’ll face an offense that has had its own struggles with new quarterback Sam Bradford.
Philadelphia defeated the Jets 24-17 on Sunday despite gaining only 231 yards, with Bradford passing for 108 and completing 14 of 28 passes. Still, a high-tempo, unorthodox offensive style provides an extra wrinkle for a Washington defense feeling pressure to make a play.
“The zone reads and different things that they do, you have to keep your eyes on your keys and play technique, sound ball,” said cornerback Bashaud Breeland.
Breeland felt he missed two opportunities to make interceptions against the Giants, including in the fourth quarter when Rueben Randle leaped over him to snag a 41-yard touchdown pass. Thursday was Breeland’s second game after he missed the opener while serving a suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
That was just one of multiple secondary absences this season for Washington, which is expected to lose DeAngelo Hall for at least three or four weeks with a sprained toe suffered Thursday.
“It’s hard to get that going when you’ve got guys coming in and out,” Breeland said of forcing turnovers. “But at the same time, it’s like next man up. You’ve got to make those plays.”