This past Sunday at MetLife Stadium, New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz ran past two members of the Redskins secondary and caught a game-winning 77-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Eli Manning. In that moment, the Redskins' season outlook changed significantly as they approach the midpoint of their season.
The Redskins could have been celebrating the late game heroics of Robert Griffin III and sitting pretty in a first-place tie in the NFC East. Instead, the Redskins are in last place, looking up at the rest of the division with a 3-4 record and sitting on the brink of another tough game Sunday in Pittsburgh. And if that's not enough, they're still looking for a way to fix their pass defense which ranks last in the league.
"It hurts and it was definitely crazy," defensive tackle Barry Cofield said of the Manning-to-Cruz touchdown. "It's just such a helpless feeling for a [defensive] lineman when the ball is in the air. It's just in the air and all you can do is watch it."
All season the Redskins' defense has been unable to stop opponents' passing games. The pass defense is so bad that it could undermine all the good work being done by Griffin and the offense.
Many football fans are wondering whether the Redskins secondary has enough talent to improve. Can they actually get better? Or is this as good as it gets? We'll certainly find out over time.
Injuries have been a factor, but if the pass defense doesn't get any better, people may start to blame defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, and secondary coach Raheem Morris for their struggles.
On Monday, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan took the opportunity to defend his assistants. During his press conference, he was asked whether the pass defense struggles are attributable to an adjustment period with the hiring of Morris, Shanahan said no.
"You take a look at that one play for a 77-yard big play, everybody is sick about it," Shanahan said. "It takes all of the good things that we did on defense. Instead of having 260 yards passing, you've got 340. You've got the play of the game. It negates all good things."
The Steelers' speedy receiving corps will pose a significant challenge for the Redskins' secondary. The Redskins will have difficulty stopping them. But hopefully, they can contain them, and get to 4-4 halfway through the season.