After 2 1/2 seasons, it's no longer about learning a new defense or losing key players. It's all about poor coaching.
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and special teams coach Danny Smith are surely questionable to return next season. They may not even finish the year the way things are going. With coach Mike Shanahan now 14-26 midway through his five-year plan, it's sometimes hard to believe the Redskins are better off since his 2010 arrival.
It's easy to blame Haslett. The Redskins' defense was terrible in the 27-12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Pittsburgh scored on its first four possessions.
The Redskins were outcoached. If the defense played the run, the Steelers passed. If Washington dropped back, the Steelers went underneath. It seemed as if the Redskins were afraid to get burned downfield after losing the previous week on a late bomb.
The first drive saw Pittsburgh complete a 25-yard pass on the second play and later 15- and 11-yarders to position it on the 5-yard line. When the Redskins played the run on fourth-and-1, the Steelers passed for a 7-0 lead.
Washington's defense was on its heels the entire game, and there's no excuse for it. Sure, the loss of Brian Orakpo to injury hurts the pass rush, but the Redskins have found no remedy. It's Haslett's job to compensate.
Not that Haslett can control the downward spiral known as cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who was ejected for removing his helmet and cursing at an official. Nor can Haslett overcome a mediocre secondary missing its safeties, who were either suspended or hurt. But it's Haslett's job somehow to get the players he needs from Shanahan, and he hasn't.
The Redskins let a mediocre Steelers team just steamroll them. The 10 dropped passes by receivers didn't help, but Pittsburgh manhandled Washington from the start. The defense never made a decisive stand. It was more passive-aggressive -- with heavy emphasis on the passive.
Opponents are scoring less lately but only because the Redskins' offense hasn't forced shootouts. New York made its game-winning touchdown look simple a week ago. Pittsburgh took it easy in the second half in the rain because a 20-6 intermission lead was obviously enough.
Bottom line: The Redskins have allowed 2,514 passing yards in eight games, the second most ever in the NFL. What coach survives that?
Meanwhile, the special teams woes are becoming annoying. A blocked extra point after the Redskins had a series of blocked field goals since last season? Changing kickers hasn't helped. Something's still wrong, and Smith hasn't solved the blocking troubles.
Pittsburgh would have scored a touchdown on a punt return if not for a block-in-the-back penalty. The Redskins' return game used to be special. Now it's just ordinary. Smith is one of the NFL's top special teams coaches, but sometimes a change is needed.
Washington plays Carolina on Sunday, then has its bye. The Redskins' defense either needs to reboot under Haslett or restart under someone else during the break. If the Redskins fall to 3-6 by losing to the Panthers, Shanahan must consider a change. Smith should last the season, but Haslett doesn't have any answers.