ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Alex Smith is not exactly playing like the perfect solution at quarterback for the Washington Redskins. The secondary is a mess. The team hardly seemed ready coming off a bye week and now faces the challenge of a short week.
So what if they’re leading the NFC East?
Things are not looking great for the Redskins (2-2) as they prepare to host Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers (3-1) on Sunday.
“We have a cloud looming over our head,” Washington coach Jay Gruden said, “with a lot of issues we need to clean up. I have faith that this veteran team will clean it up.”
He decided not to hold a full practice on Wednesday, instead opting to simply put his players through a walkthrough.
The Redskins did not return to the area until about 5 a.m. on Tuesday after its 43-19 shellacking against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.
The problems that need correcting are everywhere.
Smith threw an inexplicable interception on a fourth-and-2 play. Brees picked apart the defense, to the point that Gruden decided to bench cornerback Josh Norman coming out of halftime.
“As a unit,” Norman said Wednesday, “we did not do our best.”
There were third-down penalties in the early going called against defensive backs Norman, Monte Nicholson and Quinton Dunbar.
Asked specifically about his QB, Gruden responded: “A lot of things happened to a lot of people in that game that weren’t very good. He’s one of them, I was one of them, we all were.”
Smith acknowledged, “There’s a lot that I could do better,” but he also said that coming off such a lopsided defeat, it’s important not to dismiss it as a one-time deal.
“You don’t want to be naive. You want to be real with yourself,” said Smith, whose rating of 92.9 is tied for 19th in the NFL among players who have thrown at least 80 passes this season. “Every guy has to look in the mirror and be real with themselves.”
If the Redskins are going to get back above .500, by beating an opponent they’ve lost to five times in a row, they know they’ll need to put the poor performance against the Saints behind them.
Gruden noted that one thing that contributed to the problems Monday was an inability to move beyond individual mistakes.
“It’s always on to the next play, don’t let the last play determine your thoughts or your actions toward the next play,” the coach said. “We, actually, probably, wallowed around in our own (mess) for too long … as a whole group.”
Notes: Gruden said that WR Jamison Crowder (ankle), WR Paul Richardson (shoulder, knee) and S Troy Apke (hamstring) would not have practiced had the team had a regular session.