Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett held the same post for the
Pittsburgh Steelers from 1996 to 1999, but did not face Manning and the Colts
during that time. He faced Manning twice as head coach of the New Orleans Saints; once in 2001 and again in 2003.
In Week 10 in 2001, the running game struggled, with Dominic Rhodes being
held to only 67 yards and 18 carries with a touchdown. Manning finished 18
of 28 with 262 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The Saints
didn't record any sacks in that game, but were able to hold Indianapolis to 20
points on offense in a 34-20 victory.
The Week 4 matchup in 2003 was a convincing Colts victory, as Indianapolis
put up 55 points on the New Orleans defense in a decisive 55-21 victory.
Manning went 20 for 25 with 314 yards, six touchdowns, and zero interceptions.
He was also not sacked in the game.
Haslett, as most defensive coordinators, has only been as good as the talent
he has to work with. The Saints were coming off a division title in 2001
and the Colts were on their way to a 6-10 record for that season. By 2003, the
Indianapolis offense — Manning in particular — had hit its stride and New
Orleans was about to start a rebuilding process, finishing the 2003 season at
8-8. The Redskins have a great deal of talent on defense this season,
especially at linebacker and for the most part in the secondary, so he has been
able to hold things together thus far in 2010, with Washington ranking ninth in
As a coach, Haslett has always leaned on the fundamentals and has adjusted
his scheme to fit with the talent on hand, rather than trying to shoehorn the
players available into a particular system. He grew up as a linebackers
coach and defensive coordinator with the Saints and Steelers, which ran the 3-4
as their base defense.
When he came to the Redskins in the offseason, he must have seen that the
team had much more talent at linebacker than along the defensive line, so he
installed the 3-4 and went to work. With his early background in the 3-4,
Haslett has been associated with the zone blitz and pressure defenses, but has
never ran a blitz-happy defense. Washington primarily rushes four — the
three down linemen and an outside linebacker — and plays a fairly standard
Cover 2 or Cover 3 defense on the backend.
He usually makes an immediate impact when he takes over a defense, since he
works with the talent at hand and stresses fundamentals on defense. He
coordinates with the position coaches to make sure that each player has a firm
grasp of his role in the system. Over time, though, either fundamentals
break down and Haslett is only as good as the players he has at his disposal.
He has not been able to sustain success over the course of a tenure with any
team — or, sometimes, things break down during a season — which is one of the
reasons that he has moved around so much throughout his career. But, the
instant gratification and results that he produces when he first starts has kept
him employed over the years.
Haslett is also a big proponent of the bend-don't-break defense, which
explains why the Redskins are ninth in scoring defense but 32nd in yards
allowed. They have been very effective in the red zone thus far this
season, but history has shown that it will only be a matter of time until this
defense bends so much that it breaks. This is why it is so critical that
the Colts score touchdowns, not field goals when they get inside the 20 —
especially early in the game.
Washington has been very resilient on defense in 2010 and have always found a
way to dig deep and make a big play when it matters most. If Indianapolis
is able to bend them until they break in Sunday night's game, they may be able
to break them badly enough that recovery is not possible. Manning has
already scored 55 points on a Haslett defense in the past. We'll see if history repeats itself in Week 6.
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