4:25 PM ET, September 30, 2012
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Both clubs have dropped two straight since winning their openers, and the Redskins have historically had problems at Raymond James Stadium heading into Sunday's matchup.
Washington's offense has been boosted by rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, who has helped the Redskins produce a league-high 33.0 points per game. The problem has been a defense that's yielding 442.0 yards a contest for one of the worst marks in the NFL, including 337.3 through the air for the league's second-worst average.
Washington has allowed a league-high 10 touchdown passes -- four by Cincinnati in a 38-31 home loss last Sunday.
"We've got to play much better as a secondary," coach Mike Shanahan said. "Our secondary has got to be much better than we played on Sunday."
Tampa Bay, though, may prove unable to take advantage of those woes. The Buccaneers are averaging a league-low 258.3 yards and their 149.0 per game passing is third lowest in the league.
Josh Freeman has the worst completion percentage in the NFC at 51.3 and his passer rating of 71.4 is fifth worst in the league. He threw for 110 yards -- his second-lowest career total as a starter -- and completed 10 of 28 passes in a 16-10 loss at Dallas on Sunday.
"Each play, there's a reason why it doesn't work," Freeman said. "Maybe one time it was a guy who's covered up and, by the time you get back, somebody gets through or it's a pass where me and the receiver weren't able to hook up.
"But whatever it is, we've got to go back and figure out why it is that we weren't hitting them early and try to grow from that and build on it."
The only club with a worse pass defense than Washington is Tampa Bay, which is allowing an average of 353.3 yards through the air.
Griffin, though, has thrown for most of his 747 yards on shorter routes, with the Redskins' 413 yards after catches tied for the seventh-highest total in the league. He's also rushed for 209 yards and three scores with his combination of running and throwing turning around Washington's attack.
The Redskins' defense, however, has been so bad that it's kept the club from turning around its losing ways. Washington has allowed 16 pass plays of 20-plus yards over three games, second most in the NFL.
"Last year we would argue amongst each other to get 14 points, 10 points. Twenty-one points was a great day (for the offense)," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "So to see this offense go out there these last three weeks and put up the kind of points they've put up, and the defense just go out there and totally drop the ball, it's definitely frustrating."
It may not be hard to limit Tampa Bay to a low point total if Freeman can't get untracked. The Bucs signed veteran receiver Roscoe Parrish on Tuesday in an effort to spark their passing game and waived Jordan Shipley, who muffed a punt against the Cowboys.
First-year Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano insists Freeman will be fine.
"I have a great trust level with him," Schiano said. "There's not a doubt in my mind he's going to do great this year and beyond."
The Bucs have lost defensive end Adrian Clayborn for the season due to knee surgery. Clayborn had a team-high 7 1/2 sacks in 2011.
The Redskins are hoping that starting left tackle Trent Williams will be back after sitting out most of Sunday's loss with an injured right knee.
Washington also has issues at running back after placing Roy Helu Jr. on injured reserve, while Evan Royster is suffering from a strained right patella tendon. The Redskins have signed veteran Ryan Grant.
The two-time 1,200-yard rusher arrived for his first practice Wednesday and is expected to back up rookie starter Alfred Morris. He spent five seasons with Green Bay and was on the verge of signing with the Bears before the Redskins obtained his services.
"I was on my way to do a physical in Chicago," Grant said. "Agreed to Washington. Told the driver to turn around and take me to the airport."
The Redskins have dropped seven of their last eight visits to Tampa, including playoffs. The Bucs have won the last six regular-season home matchups.
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After watching film of both teams, Scouts Inc. breaks down key elements of the Week 4 Redskins-Buccaneers matchup.
• Exploit a struggling Redskins secondary: The Washington defense has been poor this season, yielding 99 points and 337 yards per contest through the air. The Redskins don't generate much pressure on opposing quarterbacks and have given up several big plays in the passing game. The Buccaneers have big perimeter receivers in Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams and an athletic tight end in Dallas Clark who can stretch the field. Look for Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan to put the ball in the air early and often.
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers
|Avg Points Allowed||30.8||22.8|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||WSH|
|Rush Yds Allowed||WSH|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Tampa Bay leads 5-4|
|Dec 12, 2010||WSH 16, TB 17|
|Oct 4, 2009||WSH 16, TB 13|
|Nov 25, 2007||WSH 13, @TB 19|
|Nov 19, 2006||WSH 17, @TB 20|
|Jan 7, 2006||WSH 17, @TB 10|
|Nov 13, 2005||WSH 35, @TB 36|
|Sep 12, 2004||WSH 16, TB 10|
|Oct 12, 2003||WSH 13, TB 35|
Robert Griffin III has been more productive against single-high safety defense this season, throwing all four of his touchdown passes against such pressure. Opposing defenses are catching on, as Griffin saw single-safety coverage on just 34.4 percent of his attempts in Week 3, compared with 56.6 percent over his first two games.
ESPN Stats & Information