Tuesday, September 29, 2009

1-2: Lions 19, Redskins 14 - First Quarter Review

Ok, this week it seems that almost every play had import or provided useful information about why things happened the way they happened, so it's taking a long time to get through the TiVo. I've only done one quarter, but since things seem so dire these days I wanted to post something quickly to aid in digesting what we went through on Sunday. Below is almost the entire first quarter, although I left a little more than a minute because the conclusion of the Lions 99 yard drives seemed like a reasonable spot to take a break. And drink heavily.

A few plays are still omitted, so don't worry if down and distance doesn't add up every time. I'll get up the rest of the game, as well as concluding thoughts, as soon as I can given the exigencies of job, life, etc.

Lions first possession

1-1-D15 – The first of the mysteriously successful up the middle runs. Haynesworth initially beats the center, but the center is able to carry him a bit to the offensive left and he basically lets Haynesworth’s own momentum carry him out of his gap responsibility. London is picked up by the leadblocking fullback, and the LG, who initially is helping double Haynesworth but quickly sheds him, is able to square up Rocky. That’s what made it a 9 yard gain.

3-1-D24 – Fullback give. The Lions line is able to get just enough push so they sneak over the line. I can’t tell if they cut Haynesworth or if he just fell down on his own (I need Hi-Def in a bad way) but he almost immediately went to the ground. The Lions also subtly faked a handoff to the tailback after the FB already had the ball, and both Horton and Rogers pursued him to the outside. I’m not sure either of them would have made it to the hole in time to make a difference, but it was an effective fake.

1-10-D25 – Run out of shotgun. The line crashes to the left, taking Haynesworth with it, and manages to seal Haynesworth and Griffin to that side. The LG pulls to the right and leads Kevin Smith through the hole where the tackles used to be.

2-7-D29 – On two earlier plays they got Haynesworth moving one direction and then ran it the other. This time Smith follows the blocking to the left and Haynesworth is able to shed the center’s block and take down Smith after 2 yards.

3-5-D31 – Stafford passes out of shotgun. Carter is able to carry the RT into Stafford’s face, but he makes a nice throw to Bryant Johnson in the flat. Fortunately Smoot is tracking him all the way lays Johnson out before he can even get his feet down.

Redskins first possession

1-10-W24 – Shotgun with empty backfield. High snap and Campbell bounces it into the air while trying to catch it. The LDE blew by Heyer with a speed rush so he was already on top of Campbell once he came down with the ball. Fortunately he twists around Campbell’s facemask while throwing him to the turf.

1-10-W32- The DBs are playing deep zones. Portis runs a short hook freezing the MLB, and Sellers goes to the flat sucking up the OLB. With the linebackers out of the picture, Santana is able to sit down in the gaping hole between the shallow and deep zones. Nicely designed.

1-10-W47 – Cooley lines up on the right TE spot, then Sellers motions from FB to join him. Sellers goes down field to pick off LBs while it is clearly Cooley’s job to seal the corner so that Portis can take advantage of Sellers' downfield blocking. Instead the DE gets past Cooley and forces Portis to take the play even wider, and turn upfield later. It is a 3 yard gain, but would have been more had Portis been allowed to get to the corner as designed.

1-10-D43 – Quick hook to Moss, who then does his Moss thing and makes 4 guys miss to get all the way down to the 22. Portis perfectly squared up a blitzing safety to give Jason a chance to get the ball out. God, I love watching Portis block.

1-10-D22 – Heyer forgot the snapcount. He wasn’t even out of his snap as the LDE streaked past him. Fortunately Portis was able to pick him up to save Campbell’s life. With Portis’ block Campbell was able to step up into a restored pocket, but still rushed his throw and sailed it about a foot too high for Santana who was open at the 3 yard line. I don’t think Campbell realized how much time stepping up had gained him. Campbell can be seen saying something to Heyer after the play. He didn’t look happy.

2-10-D22 – False start on Heyer. That guy had a really, really rough first drive.

2-15-D27 – Play action. Campbell immediately zeroes in on Kelly and gets it to him on the deep out. Very confident and decisive throw, and perfect timing as Kelly was coming out of his cut.

1-G-D9 – A nearly perfect endzone fade to Kelly. Maybe Campbell could have lofted it just a bit more, but really I think it was just well covered by the DB.

2-G-D9 – Handoff from shotgun to Betts up the middle for 1 yard. I’m not sure, but I think Dockery screwed up on this one. The RDE was intentionally unblocked; the play was designed for Betts to already be to the hole before he could get into the backfield. Dockery immediately engages the left-side DT, which leaves Samuels with nobody in front of him. Samuels starts to turn towards the DT, then watches helplessly as he is boxed out by Dockery as a LB fills Betts’ gap. I think Samuels was supposed to take the DT, and Dockery was supposed to slip to the second level and block the LB. It’s not clear whether this was a physical or mental failure on Dockery’s part.

3-G-D7 – (after a timeout) – A semi-screen, with Dockery the only blocker in front of Portis. Dockery makes a rather weak diving block at the legs of a DB, for some reason, which forces Portis to the outside. Portis does a great job of maintaining balance and slicing through multiple unblocked defenders to dive to the 1.

4-G-D1 – Jumbo package with Davis and Yoder on the right and Cooley on the left. We run left. Guess who gets beat to allow the defense to penetrate and stuff Portis. Cooley has always been known as a mediocre blocker, but I don’t remember him being quite this awful last year. Has he gotten worse? And why the hell would we run behind him in a power situation? Sellers was lead blocking, but Cooley’s failure neutralized Sellers by not giving him a gap to lead through.

Lions second possession (the 99 yard drive)

1-10-D1 – The rookie QB somehow gets us with an Elway-ish hard count, and Golston is drawn offside. A killer, as backed up on the one even a little pressure could lead to a holding call in the end zone and an automatic safety.

1-10-D12 – Shotgun draw. The RG seals Griffin to the right, the center and LG seal Golston to the left, and then the center sheds off and squares up on Fletcher 4 yards downfield. The Lions center – Dominic Raiola – is really, really impressive.

3-10-D24 – Zone blitz with Golston dropping into coverage and Rocky blitzing from the outside. Lions were in shotgun with a two RBs, so obviously the blitz was going to get picked up in the backfield. Stafford has plenty of time and waits for a receiver to come open at the 33. I don’t get the defensive call.

2-5-D49 – Screen. Complimentary routes suck Fletcher and Chris Wilson into the other side of the field, so HB Blades is left alone as the only LB in front of 3 blockers. Well designed and well executed – 12 yard gain. I think Blache is getting thoroughly out-schemed.

3-3-D33 – Redskins get pressure and force an incomplete pass, but there is also an offensive pass interference call. Zorn forgoes the 4th and 3 and instead elects to push the Lions back 10 yards and let them repeat 3rd down. Because it didn’t go on to work out Zorn’s been ripped on this; I’m on the fence. At 4th and 3 the Lions would either kick –with a high probability of success – or go for it, and given their success running up the middle I don’t think Zorn was confident we could stop them. I think Zorn thought the best odds of stopping them was to force them to pass. Not entirely unreasonable… but I’m also not fully convinced.

3-13-D42 – Stafford out of shotgun. Nobody gets open downfield, and the pressure eventually flushes Stafford from the pocket. Stafford has to duck under Haynesworth’s swiping arm, but is able to escape and make a hell of a run down to the 21. We were just beat by Stafford’s athleticism here.

1-10-D21 - The touchdown. Railoa, the center, immediately cut Haynesworth’s legs, which didn’t bring him to the ground but neutralized him as a pass rusher. That freed the LG to swing to the the right side and help out with Orakpo. That left Lorenzo Alexander rushing on the left side – he was able to get some decent pressure but Stafford once again showed good pocket presence and got the ball out just in time. A simple fade – big receiver (Bryant Johnson) beats a small corner (Rogers).


  1. Thanks for the work you put into these film review posts!

  2. Hey Dave,

    This is pretty awesome stuff. Especially helpful to understand what's going on with the running game. Definitely appreciate it.