On Thursday, September 19, 2013, Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett addressed the media before an afternoon practice at Redskins Park in Ashburn, VA.
On if rules against hitting in practice make it difficult to be prepared to tackle in games:
"I'm going to put that on us coaching because obviously we haven't done a good job of stressing the issue. You get time to tackle. We have pads on today, so individually, you need to work on it. Obviously I was wrong, I thought we made great strides during the offseason after [safety] Bacarri [Rambo] had his, the one day the first game he had a bad [game], and then we actually tackled well the next games. Then the first two games of the season that's been an issue with us, so, from a coaching standpoint I'll wear that because I've got to put them through more situations where they are out there tackling an individual and make sure that they are better at it."
On what he can do differently without tackling in practice:
"You can tackle without pads on. You can work on wrap tackling. There is dummies out there, you can do different things. Obviously the other teams aren't having this issue, so whatever they are doing, it's got to creep into what we're trying to do, but we'll fix that problem. We'll work at it and continue to try to get better in it."
On how to contain Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson:
"He's a great football player. Anybody who is 6'5", 240, runs a 4.4, he is going to be hard to contain. I hope we can slow him down, limit his plays and make sure we have bodies on him all the time and somebody around him to really just try to slow him down if we can."
On if tackling has more to do with a mentality than anything else:
"Yeah I think it is. I think sometimes it's just guys want to tackle. I think it's an array of different things, but from a coaching perspective, obviously I have got to do a better job of getting these guys ready to tackle because we had way too many tackling issues the first two games."
On if he has done anything different in terms of practicing tackling this season:
"If we have an issue on defense, and obviously that's an issue, that's something you address during practice. We've actually have been working on it. We thought we did a nice job in the offseason after that first preseason game because we had some issues that we worked on that we had pads on all the time, but it's creeped back up and it's just something we have to continue to try to get better at."
On if it is odd to see players lose tackling skills:
"The first game, I think it could be a number of different things. You are talking about a great running back, trying to tackle him in space. We didn't do a very good job of that. Then last week was just way too many missed tackles for different issues. I think we got a stiff-arm last week and we went low one time. Again I'll put that on the coaches. We just have got to get work at it and try to get better at it."
On if he is still confident in the defense:
"We went through this last year. We struggled, and then we put it all together. It took us a little while but we got it all together, but I thought we played great the last eight or nine games last year. And the same thing – I thought we were awesome in preseason. Again, I'm going to put that on myself. I'll take full responsibility for these two games because obviously I run the defense, so, whether it's getting your swagger back or working at practice – and we're going to work at the things we need to work at and get better – the number one thing that bothers me is we haven't done a very good job in the run game. If we can stop the run, and we've been pretty good at it over the first three years, last year we were awesome, if you can stop the run and make a team one-dimensional, that's where you get your turnovers, that's where you get big plays, and we haven't done a very good job in the first two games stopping the run. The point of emphasis for our football team at practice yesterday and today is to make sure we do a great job in the run game."
On how the Lions offense changed when running back Reggie Bush left the game with an injury last week:
"Obviously, we'll adjust to it. We always prepare for a guy like that to play because he's a great playmaker, fantastic athlete. If he doesn't play, I'm really a fan of [Lions running back Joique] Bell and [Lions running back Mikel] LeShoure. I think those guys are awesome. I think they do a great job at running back. They have a number of different running backs, so I don't think the game plan will change much from a run standpoint. I don't think it will change much from a passing standpoint, but they probably won't go to that guy as much as they would Reggie."
On what he has seen after moving to the coaches booth for games:
"Some ugly football [laughter]. We'll fix it. We'll get better. I love these guys. I love being around these players because they work hard and they know this is an issue and we're going to fix the thing. Practice was awesome yesterday. Like I said, I'll take responsibility for those games. We have got to get better as coaches. Players have to get better. We went out yesterday, I thought practice was great. We'll go out today, we're going to have a great practice today, and we'll continue to try to get better. I feel good about these guys. For what they did last year, the way we came back last year, and then what we did in the preseason, I know what this team can d. So we just have to put everything together and get our swagger back and get our confidence back in what we're doing."
On what has led to holes in the line against the run:
"You know what happens, when you get down and guys are trying to make plays and somebody wants to make a play so he jumps around a block, trying to make a play, obviously he wants to do something for the football team, but he gets out of his gap and then the linebacker fits wrong and they get a 10- or 15-yard run and that's what happened last week, but we'll correct that."
On if issues with the defense would be corrected if it was a close game:
"No, I think we'll correct it from practice. We'll work at it in practice. We're going to correct that and then take it to the game. We're good – we know we can stop the run. We have the ability to stop the run, and we have done it. We just have to get back to what we do best."
On if rookie mistakes in the secondary have been a factor for the defense's performance:
"A lot of that is what it was last week. We missed a check last week. They got a big play. Everybody had it but one guy, young guys. Those things are correctable. Looking back too early for the ball, that stuff's correctable. Missing tackles, that's something you've got to work at. You've got to work those things, a blown coverage or something. If you give me one-on-one, those things happen in this league. You're talking about a great quarterback who played last week who was throwing a lot of smokes and hitches and short game. We get three sacks in the opening drive. They ain't dropping back anymore. They're throwing the ball out quick, you've got to tackle. Get the ball out quick, you've got to tackle. Then the run game opened up, so we kind of played into their hands. If we could have gotten them in the situations where it was third-and-long, obviously you get three sacks on the opening drive. Our guys thought they were on pace for 10 or 12, but it doesn't work that way because you've got to adjust to what they're doing and you've got to be able to tackle. We didn't do a very good job, and again, it's my fault."
On safety Brandon Meriweather's performance:
"Pretty good snaps when he was in there. It cost him about 42 grand, but they were pretty good snaps. I thought he moved around well. I thought he was into the game. Obviously he throws his body around, he gives you a guy that's a weapon back there. I was impressed with the short time he played. Hopefully we get him back sometime and we can keep him for a stretch."
On if he thought Meriweather's helmet-to-helmet hits were legal:
"I don't evaluate that stuff. I let the league handle that. Obviously, I'm always for the player – being an ex-player – but that's just how it is."
On linebacker London Fletcher's performance:
"Everybody on this team's got to get better -- myself, London, the whole defense -- and we will. We're going to work at it. London's just like the rest of us. We've all got to get better."
On strides linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has made:
"I think he's playing excellent football, I thought him and 'Rak [linebacker Brian Orakpo] both played – even as bad as the game was last week, those two played about as well as you're going to get from a pass rush standpoint and the run game. Those two guys have been outstanding. And again, there's areas they can improve in like all of us, and they will, but I thought they did a nice job in those two areas."
On benefits of coaching from the booth and if it's challenging to communicate with the players:
"That part is not as easy, obviously if they come off the field we can talk to them. But I can see a little bit better; you can see what's going on, you know you can diagnose what they're doing. From that standpoint, it's a lot better. The communication part is always going to be an issue when you're that far away."
On how to counteract a short drop in terms of the pass rush:
"First of all like I said, we need to do a better job in the run game so we can get them in those types of situations. Then if they throw those hitches or smokes or quick game, you have to do a great job tackling and get them in manageable situations on third down, where you have a chance to win."
On if it's key to put teams in third-and-long situations:
"No doubt, and we haven't done a very good job of that the first two games."
On if he'll stay up in the booth or move back down:
"I'll probably stay upstairs. You know, I think there's advantages to both but I'll probably stay up there for now."