After allowing nearly 150 rushing yards in the regular season opener, the Redskins know that they need to be more stout against rushing attacks. The unit's next test comes against the Cowboys.
The Washington Redskins must put their performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the regular season opener in the past.
One of the areas the team struggled in most was stopping the run, as Pittsburgh running back DeAngelo Williams ran for 143 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries in Washington's 38-16 loss on Monday night.
With the Redskins focusing on ways to provide Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger little room to make throws downfield, they simply couldn't keep Williams subdued.
"We sacrificed an extra body on the box so we could try to double [Antonio Brown]," linebacker Will Compton said. "Times they would get four, five, six yards a pop. Sometimes that's going to happen when you widen the box, everybody's going to kind of two-gap. Again, we have to play better in that area. We blew in all areas, in all phases. I'm sure everybody will have enough material to pick out everything. We really did, we didn't play good, but mainly on defense we didn't win on third down."
Fellow linebacker Mason Foster, who finished the game with a career-high 14 tackles, said the Redskins allowed for Williams to gain extra yards when he should have been taken down on first contact.
"It's tough. When you feel like you have him bottled up a couple plays and he bounces, but he's a great back," Foster said. "They've got a great O-line making plays. He's a veteran running back picking the spots. We just got to make more plays as simple as that. Coaches making the right calls, it's on us and we know that. So we got to go make more plays. It's as simple as that. Just tackle, that's what it is. Make tackles and we'll be cool."
As the game went on, Williams only got stronger. In the second half, the 33-year old carried the ball 15 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' defense and special teams preparing for their Week 1 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
"Yeah, you look at the run defense and they gutted us there at the end and I think guys got a little bit tired but you look at it sometimes it was a D-lineman and sometimes it was the interior guys, the outside backers, sometimes the inside backers not falling back, maybe the safety missed a tackle, maybe a corner missed a tackle, so it was a combination of a lot of things," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "I know our guys have a lot of pride in what they do and we missed some tackles we normally make and hats off to DeAngelo too, he made some outstanding runs. But we have to be where we are supposed to be and we have to make the plays we are supposed to make."
The Redskins' first test of showing improvement won't be easy, as the Dallas Cowboys have two running backs capable of churning yards.
2016 first-round pick Ezekiel Elliot ran for 51 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut last Sunday against the New York Giants, while the Redskins know first-hand what Alfred Morris bring to the table.
"An old teammate but a Dallas Cowboy at the same time," defensive end Ricky Jean Francois said. "We've got to be ready and prepared to stop a running back like that that's like a bowling ball. He can keep going forward off of hits and mind you he has Ezekiel Elliot behind him and that's one good running back."