Redskins secondary springs leaks

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The people who find it necessary to suggest there just isn't enough humor in the NFL will have to shut up for a while Sunday when the Steelers bust out their new throwback uniforms.

C'mon; they're hysterical.

They look like what the Three Stooges were wearing in the scene where Larry and Moe are trying to crack rocks on Curley's head with a pickax in the prison yard.

But the 1934 throwbacks won't be the funniest thing at 1 p.m. Sunday at Heinz Field; that will be the Washington Redskins pass defense.

Have you seen it?

It's better than the Stooges.

Click open a video of Eli Manning throwing a last-minute pass to Victor Cruz to topple the Redskins last week in New Jersey, the one on which the entire Redskins secondary looks as if it never even occurred to them that Manning, who has done this very thing his whole career, would attempt to take the top off the defense.

The top on this one isn't exactly a manhole cover. This top puts up less resistance than the one on a standard pickle jar. This top is your basic twist-off on a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 (eight delicious fruity flavors).

As evidence I would cite the recent testimony of veteran Washington corner DeAngelo Hall, who told the New York Daily News that Manning's pass "wasn't something where he was a rocket scientist and he figured something out. We just played that as bad as possible. It wasn't like he made that play. I feel we gave him that play. We just had one guy set his feet and one guy not do that.

"I could have thrown that ball and he would have scored."

Ben Roethlisberger, for some reason, isn't laughing when he watches Washington's secondary, even though it has allowed more than twice the passing yards the Steelers have allowed, even though it's on pace to allow more than 5,000 this season.

"I came into the league with DeAngelo Hall so I know what he's about and I'd say it's a very confusing defense," Roethlisberger said as the Steelers were about to begin their Redskins prep in earnest. "I look at them as a turnover machine, not as a secondary where the big play is possible."

The Redskins certainly have gotten their picks, at least one in every game, and they've taken three of them to the house, although I never know which house. It isn't mine.

But the more frequent defensive outcomes are less than favorable. The truth is these Redskins are possessed of perhaps the most talked-about big-play offense on the map under the innovative genius of Robert Griffin III (RG3 if you absolutely must), but they are more likely to be self-immolated by a hair-raising big-play defense.

They're allowing nearly 29 points every Sunday; they allowed 480 yards only last week; they've allowed 91 points in the fourth quarter.

You can fret about Griffin all you like, but the more prudent solution to this week's predicament might be for a new Steelers offense that has been fairly underwhelming to finally put up 35 points or more.

"We're certainly capable," said tight end Heath Miller, whom Roethlisberger would within minutes call "maybe the best teammate I've ever played with at any level."

Miller had another killer performance at Cincinnati, building momentum for the best season of his career, but typically brought little self-awareness to the question of whether this offense isn't overdue to flog somebody.

"I think it's a real positive that we got our running game going," he said. "If we can stay consistent with that, we can make this into a pretty efficient offense."

The more conspicuous aspect for inconsistency has as its poster boy No. 17, former holdout wideout Mike Wallace, who, had the Steelers lost in Ohio, would be having a seriously most hostile social media week right about now. As it happens, the 24-17 victory in which Wallace dropped three to five passes depending on your personal definition, has chipped nothing off Wallace's confidence.

He still wants the ball and he wants it deep, but the deep ball hasn't emerged as a staple of the Todd Haley attack.

"That's what I like to do, yeah, but I think we've been doing good with what we've been doing, too," Wallace said. "Coach Haley has slowly but surely opened the offense up a little more. Each week, he learns more and more about us as players and, as he does that, I'm sure he's going to give us opportunities."

This is the new offense's seventh performance. It has been held to 24 points or fewer in four of the first six. It's past time to twist off somebody's top.

Oh and one last point. The 1934 Redskins encountered the Steelers in the Sunday stooge ensemble twice and beat 'em by a combined 46-0. You might not find that so chuckly.


Gene Collier:


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