After reviewing the film of the Redskins-Giants week 13 game several times, I hand out the following class grades to the Redskins defense.
HEAD OF THE CLASS
DE Stephen Bowen. I don't know if he was tired of NT Barry Cofield getting all the credit, but Bowen exploded against the Giants, dominating the line of scrimmage, shutting down the run to his side and accounting for 3 QB hurries. Bowen has been up and down this season and was demolished by the Giants offensive line the first time these two teams played this year. On Monday night, though, Bowen was sometimes all that stood between TB Ahmad Bradshaw and big yardage, since Cofield got steamrolled by the Giants repeatedly. He even drew a penalty on the offensive line. This was Bowen's most complete game in a month.
OLB Rob Jackson. Provided the most pass rush against the Giants on Monday night, particularly in the second half. He accounted for the team's only sack and added two QB hurries. I didn't like that he missed two tackles, but he was acceptable in run defense and did more than anyone else to make Eli Manning uncomfortable in the pocket in the second quarter.
CB Josh Wilson. He started off the year so well, but then went into a big slump, culminating in a nightmare performance against the Panthers and then a sound whipping on Thanksgiving Day by Tony Romo and the Dallas wideouts. But Wilson bounced back against the Giants, drawing a penalty and accounting for five tackles. Best of all, Eli Manning got virtually nothing looking at Wilson all night. Manning only threw in Wilson's direction twice all night -- one was a 6-yard completion to Victor Cruz and the other an incomplete pass to Reuben Randle. Wilson's converage was solid on both plays and all night. This is how a stud cornerback plays on the big stage.
ILB Lorenzo Alexander. Did a nice job in limited action on Monday night. Got two QB hurries despite rushing the passer only about ten times. Solid in rush defense, as well.
NT Chris Baker. Like Alexander, he didn't play much, but made an impact when he was in the game. Three tackles and a QB hurry in less than 15 plays is good production.
DE Jarvis Jenkins, OLB Ryan Kerrigan, CB Cedric Griffin, SS DeJon Gomes, FS Jordan Pugh, NT Barry Cofield
MUST DO BETTER
FS Madieu Williams, ILB Perry Riley
ILB London Fletcher. Whew, what a horrible night in coverage for Fletcher. He gave up 73 yards on 5 completions out of 6 passes attempted. In particularl, TE Martellus Bennet destroyed Fletcher in the first half. London is playing hurt and trying hard, but he's become a serious liabiity in coverage, particularly down the middle and against tight ends. He made 7 tackles, but missed two and wasn't terribly good against the run either.
CB DeAngelo Hall. Only rushed the QB twice, but got good pressure once. He's pretty good as a blitzer off the edge. However, he also missed a tackle and got repeatedly burned in coverage. Ten days after clearly out-playing Dallas wideouts, Hall was torched by the New York receivers. Victor Cruz burned Hall badly twice and he gave up more than half of Eli Manning's passing yardage. Even TEs Martellus Bennett and Bear Pascoe got the better of Hall on Monday night.
SS Reed Doughty. Very solid in coverage, as only one pass -- to Martellus Bennett -- was thrown at Doughty and he defended it well. However, Doughty got plowed over by the Giants rushing attack. He was repeatedly blocked too easily and missed chances to make tackles near the line of scrimmage. He didn't miss tackles, he just wasn't in position to make them.