Through three games, Jim Haslett's troops are well deserving of their status as the league's worst defense. However, despite their weekly struggles, progress is looming on the horizon.
Here are three reasons why the Redskins' defense will improve in the coming weeks.
Seemingly lost amid the numerous headlines outlining the struggles of the defense has been the absence of two of its better performers.
Prior to the beginning of the season, defensive stalwarts Rob Jackson and Jarvis Jenkins were slapped with four-game suspensions courtesy of violating the NFL's drug policy.
A rare seventh round draft gem from the forgettable Vinny Cerrato era, Jackson stepped up tremendously playing in place of injured Brian Orakpo in 2012. His combination of pass rushing ability and pass defending skills played a key role in the team's success last year. He ended the season with an incredibly balanced stat line consisting of four and a half sacks, four interceptions, seven passes defended and for the icing on the cake, two forced fumbles.
There's no doubt that Jackson's versatility and playmaking abilities have been missing elements from the team's defense in 2013.
Like Jackson, Jenkins has been missed as well. The promising left defensive end's absence has also contributed to the Redskins' overall struggles on the defensive side of the football.
While lacking Jackson's playmaking prowess, Jenkins succeeds due to his massive size and brute strength. When he's on the field, he's a guy the opposing offense has to account for, which frees things up for the playmakers on the defense to perform their duties of making game-changing plays.
Unfortunately, we still have to wait a couple of weeks before Jackson and Jenkins are cleared to play. The defense will become a more formidable unit the second they step on the football field.
Benching Bacarri Rambo
Rambo has been overwhelmed during his on-the-job training as a starter in the National Football League. His ragged play has been filled with taking numerous bad angles and missing a slew of tackles on a regular basis.
To make a painfully long story short, Rambo has served as the weakest link on the team's struggling defense.
Fortunately, Rambo was benched during the early stages of the Redskins' Week 3 loss to the Detroit Lions. His removal from the starting lineup paid immediate dividends, as the defense allowed a season-low 27 points to the Lions.
Rambo needs to learn from his mistakes as he attempts to become a better player down the road, but that can be accomplished from observing on the bench, instead of on the playing field at the expense of the defense's performance.
Resting London Fletcher
Fletcher has often served as the pulse of the Washington Redskins' defense. Over the years, the unit has played some of its most inspired football when the emotionally charged veteran linebacker is setting the tone with a game-changing play.
In 2013, we've witnessed no game-changing moments from Fletcher.
Maybe that will change now that he's about to get some rest. In an effort to preserve the legs of the aging future Hall of Famer, head coach Mike Shanahan recently announced that Fletcher will be replaced by Nick Barnett during some stretches of games moving forward.
So goes Fletcher, so goes the Washington Redskins' defense. Hopefully, rest will allow Fletcher to make some of his long overdue big plays that will breathe badly-needed air into a defensive unit that, ranked last in the league, is in dire need of oxygen.
With a fresh London Fletcher, addition through the subtraction of Bacarri Rambo from the starting lineup and the imminent returns of Rob Jackson and Jarvis Jenkins, it's only a matter of time before the plight of the Redskins' defense takes a turn for the better.
Drexel Perry recently moved back to the Washington D.C. area. He's been a Redskins fan for over 30 years. For additional football talk, follow him on Twitter @DrexelPerry.
Statistics via NFL.COM
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- Rob Jackson
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