Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was pleased with the way the Redskins defense played in the season opener against the New York Giants, but he noted several areas that still need improvement.
The defense recorded four sacks, seven quarterback hits, one forced fumble and one Ryan Kerrigan interception that he returned for a touchdown. The impressive defensive stat line helped the Redskins beat the division rival New York Giants 28-14 at FedExField.
"We did a lot of good things and we still have a lot of things we need to work on to get better," Haslett said. "[I was] more disappointed probably than anything that we gave up a couple of big plays, which we didn't need to."
One of those big plays Haslett was referring to came in the first quarter. The Giants had the ball on their own 30-yard line on 3rd-and-10. Quarterback Eli Manning stepped up into the pocket and launched a deep pass to wide receiver Hakeem Nicks who was pushed out of bounds at the Redskins 2-yard line after a 68-yard gain.
On the ensuing play, Manning scrambled two yards into the end zone for the first touchdown of the game.
Safety Reed Doughty was part of coverage on Nicks, but Haslett doesn't believe that the result of the play was entirely his fault.
"The main problem started up front," Haslett said. "We let [Manning] step up and have the ability to throw. That was a five-second play to get off.
"[The coverage] was good. Obviously, Reed took his eyes off the guy and tried to make a play, but we had three guys over the top of two.
"I know everybody has been [blaming] Reed on the play, but it's not all Reed's fault because when you have that much time to throw a pass, you're going to complete balls in this league."
Getting a strong push up front was one of the areas that Haslett emphasized during training camp and preseason. It's why the team added nose tackle Barry Cofield and defensive end Stephen Bowen to the line during free agency.
"We want to make sure that we get a push up the middle and make sure that we have somebody in the quarterback's face, which we didn't do a very good job of last year," he said.
This Sunday, the Redskins face off against an Arizona Cardinals team that has several playmakers on offense, from wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Early Doucet to tight end Todd Heap.
It all starts with quarterback Kevin Kolb, Haslett said.
"He has big play ability," he said. "He throws a nice ball and he can run. He can get out of the pocket and we have to make sure we do a good job of keeping him in check in that area because he's the kind of guy that makes a lot of plays with his feet."