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Tackling At Core Of Redskins' Struggling Run Defense


The Redskins' defense struggled against the run in last Sunday's 31-7 loss to the New York Giants, and poor tackling was at the heart of problem.

Defensive linemen and linebackers say they need to maintain gaps and get in better position for tackles.

And while the fundamentals of tackling is a focus, defensive end Kedric Golston said there also needs to be a determination to not let a ball-carrier beat a defender one on one.

"It's a mindset that you have to make the tackle," Golston said. "It's as simple as that."

The Redskins allowed 197 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns in Sunday's loss to the Giants.

Since the bye week, the defense has allowed an average of 186.2 yards per game on the ground. The unit has dropped to 28th in the league.

Sound tackling can often make up for defensive lapses after the snap, Golston said.

"There are times when people are out of their gaps, but you can make up for it by making the tackle," he said. "Instead of it being a 40-yard gain, it's a 2-yard gain and then you line up to play another snap. So the main thing is just tackling [better]."

Golston has started every game this season for the Redskins and he has 53 tackles so far. He is closing in on his career high -- 59 -- set in 2006, his rookie season.

The Redskins typically focus on tackling during Thursday's practice each week.

Head coach Mike Shanahan said the defense works on wrapping guys up while not taking them to the ground.

"It's very hard because it's a fine line," Shanahan said. "If you practice full speed and take guys to the ground, you have a chance for injuries. If you wrap guys up, there's always the question of, 'How hard do you go?'

"Usually on Thursdays we get after it pretty good for 45 minutes where [defenders] wrap people up. We don't take the to the ground, but it's 100 percent without tackling."

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Redskins' opponent this Sunday, are ranked 11th overall in rushing. Rookie LeGarrette Blount has emerged as their primary running back.

Blount has rushed for 599 yards and five touchdowns this season.

Golston said the front seven also needs to be aware of Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman, who at 6-6 and 248 pounds has good size and mobility.

Several Redskins compared his physicality to that of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

"He's a big athletic quarterback, he doesn't have blazing speed but he's mobile," Golston said. "Whenever you have a guy that big, he's hard to wrap up. The challenge is for us to corral him."

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