Five sacks. Since the Sept. 19 win over the Dallas Cowboys, Joe Gibbs has studied the five sacks the team allowed, broken down film of how they occurred and focused on corrections in practice.
The Redskins' pass protection units struggled at times in Week 2 against an aggressive Dallas 3-4 defense. Fixing the problems remains a top priority for Gibbs, assistant head coach-offense Joe Bugel and the rest of the offensive coaching staff.
"It just wasn't a good day in pass protection for us," Gibbs said, referring to the Sept. 19 game at Dallas. "Two of the sacks were situations where we didn't get the alignment the way we wanted, so that was my fault. At the same time, we probably scrambled out of there a few times and saved ourselves a couple sacks, too."
This week in practice, Gibbs and Bugel have worked with the entire offensive unit on pass protection, while preparing for an aggressive Seattle Seahawks defense. There's been instruction on pass protection technique, reading where the defensive pressure is coming from, and picking up blitzing linebackers and defensive backs.
"It's been a real big emphasis for us this week," Gibbs said. "We spent a lot of time on it last week, too."
Until the offense improves in pass protection, the Redskins can expect a heavy dose of blitzing from defenses this season. In three games, the Redskins have yielded eight sacks and last year, the unit allowed 38 sacks for the season, 17th most in the NFL.
"I think the problems we had in Dallas were in technique more than anything else," center Casey Rabach said. "We got away at times from what we hang our hat on, which is technique. You have to give some credit to Dallas, they're aggressive and they have a very good front line. Everything is correctable and that's what we're going to do."
Added left tackle Chris Samuels: "We have to pick it up. It's all of us. We all have to be on the same page as a unit, from the running back to the wide receivers to the quarterback. Everybody has to play as one."
This Sunday, the Redskins will square off against a defense that is built on speed. The unit, guided by defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes, has logged nine sacks so far this season. (Rhodes, of course, coached the Redskins' defense in the 2000 season.)
Defensive end Grant Wistrom, who will line up against Samuels, is regarded as a speed rusher, rookie middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu is undersized but fast, and safeties Ken Hamlin and Michael Boulware like to get after the quarterback.
"Seattle is very quick on defense," Gibbs said. "They give you a lot of problems with it. They're very aggressive and it's got us concerned."
Added Rabach: "Seattle has a real good front four. They revamped their defense in the offseason and they are built on rushing the passer."
Meantime, right tackle Jon Jansen continues to play despite two fractured thumbs. The seventh-year lineman returned to practice on Wednesday after sitting out Monday. Wearing protective casts on both hands is not hindering his play, he said.
Since Jansen must now use his hands less in blocking, he is forced to focus more on his footwork. Interestingly, he believes the renewed focus has improved his run- and pass-blocking technique.
Gibbs praised Jansen for his work ethic and willingness to play despite the injuries.
"I don't know how many people could have done that," Gibbs said. "To be able to go in there and play against the people he went up against with two bad thumbs, that says a lot about him."
Regarding Jansen's status, Gibbs said: "It could be anywhere from 4-6 weeks that he would be able to start getting some relief and taking some of [the casts] off. The bye week came at a good time for him because we tried to keep him from any contact. We are just hoping to get him back to where his thumbs are feeling good."