Redskins must address run defense

The Redskins' run defense has been virtually nonexistent over the last three games. Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports

ASHBURN, Va. -- Five observations on the Washington Redskins' defense after the 31-30 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

  1. The defense has surrendered 587 rushing yards over the last three games combined. It went from Atlanta running a good scheme against them to the Jets snapping off a few long runs to the Bucs just hurting them all over. Too often the edges are not contained -- and too often it occurs when the Redskins are forced into a nickel alignment, putting the linebackers in a three-point stance. It’s hard to always know who’s supposed to fit where because it can change based on motion, alignment, etc. But there are definite times they don’t have a player in a gap and those breakdowns lead to issues.

  2. The defense will have to do a much better job if the Redskins want to parlay this comeback win into anything meaningful. Otherwise, this will become just a pleasant memory that meant nothing going forward -- sort of like the win at Dallas last season. That doesn’t just mean pulling off a big upset in New England because that, of course, would be difficult. But it does mean being competitive thereafter. Following the Patriots game, the Redskins host New Orleans and then play at Carolina before home games vs. the Giants and Cowboys. The front seven absolutely must start producing better.

  3. Sunday showed why it’s good for the Redskins to have a player such as Will Compton on the roster. Both Keenan Robinson and Perry Riley, Jr., left the game with injuries (Robinson returned from an abdominal strain; Riley has a calf issue). Compton can play both positions; coaches trust him because he knows what he’s doing in both spots, and that allows him to play faster at times. He did miss a tackle in the hole on one play, but for the most part he was solid. I don’t know how much time Riley will miss, if any. The bye week will help his calf (it’s not the same one that caused him to miss two games). I’d put Will Blackmon on that list, too. Yes, he gave up a couple catches, but you don’t see him out of position. It matters. Yes, Blackmon allowed a touchdown catch to Mike Evans. Add him to the list.

  4. The Redskins miss too many tackles or opportunities to make stops for little to no gain -- or a loss. It happens all the time, and it happened again on the 49-yard run by Doug Martin. Trenton Robinson was in the gap, but appeared to angle a little too far inside, allowing Martin to cut wide. Robinson has been in position to make plays, but hasn’t done so nearly enough. This also happens too often when the gaps become too big, leaving backs with enough ground to make a cut and a miss. But the Redskins allowed too many extra yards. In the last two weeks the Redskins have allowed a combined 214 yards after contact, according to ESPN Stats & Information. They had allowed 227 such yards in the first five games combined. It’s a problem.

  5. It’s amazing how many little plays or mistakes add up to help a team win. On Tampa’s second trip in the red zone -- the Bucs had a first-and-10 at the 12-yard line -- Chris Baker had a tackle for a loss on first down. That helped, but what also mattered was linebacker Keenan Robinson getting penetration on third-and-2 from the 4. Why? Because the right tackle turned and attempted to cut him off. And why did that matter? Because the right tackle bumped into receiver Vincent Jackson running behind the formation. That prevented Jackson from getting into the route -- it would have left one defender in zone to worry about two receivers. Instead, Jackson wasn’t a part of the route and Jameis Winston threw incomplete. Another such play: Corner Bashaud Breeland tackling Evans on the final series while in man coverage. Breeland had no help; had he not grabbed Evans by his lower leg, it would have been a long touchdown.