Defensive coordinator Greg Blache tried Thursday to shoulder the blame for the club's poor performance on third downs and also indicated he might take a more aggressive approach to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
To that end, Blache said he would start Reed Doughty at strong safety and pick spots to use Chris Horton, whose job Doughty now takes.
Doughty, a four-year veteran, missed most of last season with back problems that were resolved by surgery. He started three games in 2008 and went on injured reserve for the final 12.
"You never know what's going to happen," Doughty said. "I was excited to play special teams this year. A lot of people didn't expect me to come back at even that level."
Doughty served as a mentor to Horton, a seventh-round pick who played well in '08 but has struggled some this year. Horton incurred a 47-yard pass interference penalty that allowed Detroit to score its final touchdown in the Lions' 19-14 victory against the Redskins.
Blache's defense has allowed more than 50 percent of third downs played to be converted, the worst in the NFL. He does not much like to blitz and prefers a four-man rush but the Redskins clearly need to bring more pressure. They only have five sacks.
"I've got to be a little more of a maverick," Blache said.
Doughty has always been a hard hitter and an attacker, If Blache turns the defense loose a bit more and Doughty gets to blitz, the Redskins might improve their effectiveness against Tampa Bay's quarterback, Josh Johnson, who is making his first start.
"We have to be aggressive, regardless of the call," Doughty said.
Blache said the team's third down woes -- Detroit converted nine of 12 in the first half -- were "because of calls. It goes back to coaching. There is a problem, no ifs, ands or buts."
He also used the much-worn phrase about "throwing someone under the bus" but made clear it was not Horton getting heaved into the path of a large oncoming vehicle.
"I should be under the bus," Blache said. "Because I'm the leader. If the calls aren't real good, that's my fault."
Horton will assume some of Doughty's special teams duty while Doughty takes the field with the starters.
"We're still good friends," Doughty said. "I ask him things and he asks me things. We talk. I'm helping him with some of the special teams things he's taking for me."