Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Redskins vs. Chiefs, 4th quarter review

Democracy works. Rather than move straight on to the Eagles, here's the 4th quarter of the Chiefs game to finally wrap it up.

1st quarter review
2nd quarter
3rd quarter

Redskins third possession of the second half

1-10-W40 – A perfect pocket. Collins looks at Cooley on an out pattern, but overthrows him. Cooley was double covered but had them beaten by a step or two; a QB with a stronger arm who didn’t feel the need to lead him so much may have completed that pass.

3-11-W39 – Both tackles hold the pocket but allow themselves to be pushed in enough to create some pressure on Collins. The DE going against Mike Williams ends up going to the ground, but it forces Collins to step up. This constricts his throwing space because Heyer has been pushed inside as well. Collins tries to make an easy dumpoff to Betts, but because Heyer is in his face he has to hop to try and get it over him, and the ball sails high.

Chiefs third possession

2-7-K18 – The Redskins continue to feast on the Chiefs’ poor offensive line. The most significant pressure is brought by Cornelius Griffin, who first drives the LG into the backfield, then works his way aroung the guard’s outside shoulder to threaten Cassel’s feet and force him to step up. When he does so, he is walled off by Haynesworth and Andre Carter, who has stunted inside from RDE, and he is brought down from behind by Philip Daniels (LDE) and Orakpo, who blitzed from the defensive right.

3-10-K14 – Haynesworth is line up at LDE, and the poor, lonely RT gets no help from the TE, who goes straight into his route. Haynesworth, who shows the moves of a DE when lined up there, beats the tackle to the outside and swipes Cassel’s arm as he tries to throw.

Redskins fourth possession

1-10-W45 – A reverse (yes, a real reverse, not an end around that announcers inexplicably call a reverse) to Devin Thomas. Collins initially hands off to Portis who heads to the right, following the blocking in the same direction. The Chiefs bite on the fake completely, the problem is that the Redskins fail to block even the fake run. The Chiefs achieve penetration (most notably against Derrick Dockery), and by the time Thomas gets the ball headed in the other direction he has to run even deeper into the backfield to get around the linemen and to the corner. When he finally gets to the line of scrimmage the Chiefs LBs and DBs have recovered from the fake and are swarming towards Thomas with Todd Collins as his only blocker. Collins is about as effective at this as you would expect. Thomas is stopped after a 2 yard gain.

3-7-W48 – Mike Vrabel blitzes from the left edge, where Mike Sellers happens to be lined up at TE. Stephon Heyers initially blocks in, doubling Dockery’s man, and Sellers is left on his own. Vrabel gets under Sellers with a swim move to the inside (Sellers’ bulk and strength are largely neutralized when back-pedaling in pass pro) and blindsides Collins. The ball pops out, and just happens to fall into the hands of Sellers, who is directly behind the pass rusher – generally a bad place for a blocker to be, but fortuitous in this case. He turns upfield but is taken down for a 3 yard loss, which isn’t great but this play could have turned out much worse.

The ensuing punt is blocked. I watched it about 12 times trying to figure out who was responsible for allowing the pressure, but it was a hopeless cause (in standard def, at least). But you probably remember how it worked out: the the blocked punt bounced past the line of scrimmage, so it was illegal for the Redskins to touch it first. So as soon as Rock Cartwright scooped it up at the 50 to run it in for an apparent touchdown, the ball was dead and the Chiefs retained possession. My question: The ref called this “illegal touching.” But my understanding is that the ball was simply downed, just like when the kicking team is the first to touch a regular, unblocked punt. And the ball was placed at the 50, just where Rock touched it (as opposed to 5 yards downfield). The end result was correct, but can someone out there explain to me how was this a penalty?

Chiefs fourth possession

2-6-W46 – Chiefs run up the middle. Haynesworth engages with the LG, and the leading FB runs right past him and looks for a LB to block. But as soon as the ballcarrier shows up Haynesworth shoves the guard to the inside while using his right arm to take down the RB.

2-8-W46 – Lorenzo Alexander, in at DT and taking advantage of the double team on Kedric Golston, walks the RG right back into Cassel’s face and gets his hand up to deflect the pass into the air.

3-8-W46 – Hayneworth rushes from RDE, and Orakpo from DT. They both win their matchups, and Griffin and Carter stunt on the other side and generate more pressure. Cassel show good awareness under pretty intense pressure and slips out of the imploding pocket. He keeps looking downfield and keeps the ball cocked, but apparently doesn’t notice he’s 2 yards over the line scrimmage before completing a pass to the TE, which is called back, obviously.

Chiefs down the punt at the 3 yard line.

Redskins fifth possession

2-8-W5 – A DT gets underneath Casey Rabach and the pressure doesn’t allow Collins the space to make his throw on the quick slant to Santana. He turns the other direction, where he is hit head on by a LB who came clean on a delayed blitz, and the throw bounces to the ground.

3-8-W5 – Stephon Heyer collapses under a bull rush, and Mike Williams’ total lack of agility is again exploited as Mike Vrable just destroys him with a spin move to the inside. Vrabel buries Collins in the end zone, but Collins spots Betts and dumps it off in the nick of time. Betts cuts inside on the first closing DB and causes him to flop to the turf, but he is chased down just short of the first down.

Chiefs fifth possession

1-10-W36 – Cornelius Griffin holds up the RG, then beats him to the outside shoulder and stuffs the RB for no gain.

2-10-W36 – Philip Daniels, who is going against the RG because the tackle is occupied with Orakpo rushing from the outside, overpowers his man and is right in Cassel’s face with his hand in the air, but he just misses the ball and the pass is completed to the TE, who has beaten Reed Doughty on an out pattern for a first down.

1-10-W25 – The interior of the pocket quickly collapses under Griffin and Haynesworth. Reed Doughty is blitzing from the offensive left. Even though he is blocked, his presence there leaves Cassel with no escape route so he’s forced to throw it away.

3-10-W25 – Chiefs hand off for a run to the left. They attempt to double team Haynesworth with the C and LG, but Haynesworth gets a quick first move and hits the LG’s outside shoulder, rendering the C useless. Despite being blatantly held (as usual) he gets his right arm free and and with it totally halts the RBs forward momentum in the backfield, allowing Orakpo to make the tackle for a 3 yard loss. The stats will only give credit to Orakpo – but it’s clear who made this play.

Succop makes the kick – 9-6 Chiefs

Redskins sixth possession

1-10-W28 – Collins maybe holds onto the ball too long – you can see him go through multiple progressions. The pocket doesn’t collapse but it certainly degrades quickly enough that by the time he throws he has a DT in his face who had gotten past Casey Rabach. Collins is trying to get the ball to Cooley 15 yards down field. He is bracketed by two defenders butthere is enough space a strong throw could get to him, but Collins doesn’t have nearly Campbell’s arm strength, making this a dangerous throw. It’s irrelevant though, because the pressure in Collins’ face causes him to not see a LB lurking underneath. The LB leaps just a little too late, so it is deflected instead of picked, but there were two good chance of an interception on this play.

2-10-W28 – Stephon Heyer is badly beaten to the inside. Fortunately Collins senses the blind side pressure and dumps the ball off to Portis just before getting drilled in the back, but Portis is unable to shake the first tackler and only gains 2.

3-8-W30 – Collins in shotgun. The snap is a little off center but definitely catchable, and a close-up replay shows he wasn’t looking for the ball when it arrived. Betts recovers the resulting fumble.

Chiefs sixth possession

1-10-W38 (1:50 remaining) – In a clock-killing, power-running situation the Chiefs’ interior line is totally focused on Haynesworth and forgets to block Kedric Golston at all, so he comes in untouched and takes down the RB for a 3 yard loss.

2-13-W41 – Cassel hits Dwayne Bowe on a slant, and the smaller Carlos Rogers just slides down Bowe’s back trying to make tackle. Bowe gets running room, and instead of going down as soon as he hit the first down marker to kill clock, he tries to score and ends up going out of bounds at the 9. I imagine Todd Haley had some gentle corrective words with Bowe over that move.

Redskins stuff the next 3 plays but burn the last of the timeouts doing so; Chiefs kick a field goal to make it 12-6.

Redskins seventh possession

1-10-W6 (0:31 remaining, backed up due to a penalty on the kickoff) – Chiefs rush three guys. Heyer is beaten badly to the inside. Betts, the only back, initially stays in to protect but apparently misreads the side to which Heyer will be beat, so he drifts too far to the outside to be useful. Too late he attempts to become a dumpoff option, but the rusher is in Collins’ face so no throw in that direction is possible. As usual the downfield routes are not visible, but during the time they are in frame all receivers are headed straight down the field, so it looks like Collins only has long-developing routes and has no opportunity to get the ball out before the DE takes him down for the safety. He displays a lack of pocket presence by not realizing he should take one step forward to get out of the end zone, but with no timeouts left the sack probably would have ended the game anyway.

Chiefs take the free kick an kneel to end the game.

I have to revise a couple of my semi-concluding thoughts from before:

First, through three quarters I felt the line performed decently, albeit against a weak opponent. In the 4th quarter, the line made the Chiefs look like the '85 Bears. Stephon Heyer was the most conspicuously atrocious.

Second, Todd Collins looked much shakier as well. The forced pass to Cooley that got tipped was pretty disconcerting, and he did not handle the constant pressure well.

In short, everything about the 4th quarter showed that the Redskins played even worse than I already thought, which just makes me want to go to bed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quick poll

As you know I've only gotten through the third quarter of the Chiefs game review.

In terms of prioritizing, should I:

a) Finish the 4th quarter of the Chiefs game - this would shed more light on Todd Collins' performance, and I imagine that safety is worth looking at

b) Dive straight into the Eagles game because the Chiefs review is already dated

UPDATE: Kansas City wins (sorry Jeff). I'm cranking up the TiVo and 4th quarter will be up later tonight (with allowances made for occasionally checking in on the World Series).

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Some not-so-final thoughts on the loss to the Chiefs

First and 2nd quarter went up yesterday, and 3rd quarter a few minutes ago. Unfortunately I have a commitment that will take up much of the rest of the day, so I can't do the 4th quarter just yet. I might be able to squeeze it in tonight, but can't be sure. So I want to get these wrap-up thoughts posted now, with the understanding that I might change my mind when I have a chance to go over the last quarter.

- In the 3rd quarter at least, Collins did look noticeably better than Campbell, and I'm not just talking about that one deep pass to Moss. The results still weren't there, but its not because Collins was making poor decisions or missing throws. The receivers just weren't getting open. Campbell however, was even missing open guys and looked to be playing in a state of panic.

- Contrary to what I was expecting, the offensive line looked pretty adequate. To be clear, I don't think this reshuffled line is capable of holding up against a more competent defense, this was probably the result of the Chiefs weakness. But the point is that the pass protection was decent in this game, so the offensive problems can not be pinned solely on the line. Clearly, the QBs and WRs deserve a big share of the blame.

-DeAngelo Hall continues to confuse me. Once or twice a game he makes a very tough, physical, aggressive play, so I know he's capable of it. But then the rest of the game he appears soft.

- When will the local media realize that Kedric Golston is a major contributor to this defense?

- Portis is looking a little slow to me. In previous games this year he really had no holes to go through so I didn't want to blame him for his modest production, but against this weak Chief's line the run blocking was at least average. I think his multiple injuries have sapped a little bit of his burst, as he appeared slow to the hole on occassion.

Redskins vs. Chiefs 3rd quarter review

1st quarter review

2rd quarter review

Redskins first possession

2-9-W30 – Collins drops back and fakes handoffs to both Betts and Devin Thomas on an end-around. The line absorbs the pass pressure with relative ease and Collins has plenty of time to wait for Moss to get open downfield on a deep corner route. Due to the camera angle its impossible to tell if the DBs were frozen by the play action or if Santana just beat them straight up, but by the time the view pans over he has two steps on a CB and a safety is desperately racing down the field trying to catch up. It’s a well placed ball right into Moss’ hands, and if he was a couple of inches taller he may have been able to maintain his footing and take it in for the touchdown.

2-20-K37 – The screen pass, which the offense always executed so crisply in 2008, continues to look sloppy. It looks like Rabach and Will Montgomery were the blockers who were supposed to make it over to the left side and form a wall in front of Betts in the flat. But both of them, once they slip past the linemen, seem to linger in the middle of the field and don’t make it to the outside. Montgomery realizes he’s too late and turns around to block a guy on the backside, which is useful but not what he was supposed to be doing. Rabach still heads up field but due to the angles Betts is still left to pick his way past a tackler on his own and by the time Rabach gets in a good position its too late. To be fair, the timing of this play may have been distrupted by the Chiefs play call. As Betts headed into the flat a safety blitzed right at him, and of course Betts couldn’t pick him up because he had to get out into his route. Maybe the Redskins were expecting Collins to have a couple more seconds before he had to throw so the linemen would have a chance to hustle to the outside.

3-16-K33 – The LDE puts on an outside rush and avoids Mike Williams altogether. Cooley gives him a pretty good bump before releasing into his route. Even though Cooley buys him a couple extra seconds to get into position, Williams is still thoroughly outmaneuvered and never even manages to touch the guy who beats him and puts a hit on Collins. Fortunately, Cooley was open so Collins was able to get the ball out before going down. Cooley catches the ball at the 30, then breaks three tackles to make it down to the 21.

Suisham makes the kick; 3-3.

Chiefs first possession

2-8-K42 – Run is stuffed by penetration all down the line. Kedric Golston lowers his shoulder and blows right through the RG, Haynesworth puts a swim move on the helpless C, and Philip Daniels beats the RT to the outside. All three converge on the ballcarrier in the backfield.

3-8-K42 – Redskins blitz both safeties – Doughty on the outside and Landry up the middle. Haynesworth and Orakpo collapse the offensive left side of the line, and Rocky McIntosh lines up in the middle of the field and blitzes to the offensive right to draw off the interior linemen, opening a hole for Landry. Haynesworth and Landry crush Cassel, but he does an impressive job of standing in the pocket in the face of the oncoming violence and delivers the ball just in time to Bobby Wade, who has takes benefits from Justin Tryon’s size disadvantage.

1-10-W48 – Chiefs run to the left. Lorenzo Alexander, at DT, allows himself to be sealed to the inside. Andre Carter, at RDE, I suspect fails in his gap responsibility as he attacks to the inside and then the RB flies past him to the outside with a lineman blocking Carter’s angle. Rocky McIntosh is there with outside contain, but the fullback takes his legs out and the RB makes it to the open field for a first down run.

3-10-W36 – Haynesworth rushes to the outside while the RDE (couldn’t make out the number) stunts to the inside behind him. The RDE never really gets his momentum going and is easily neutralized by the center. Haynesworth meanwhile drives back the LG-LT double team, but they carry him to the outside and, in the most obvious missed holding call in the history of the NFL, blatantly bear-hug him and attempt to wrestle him to the ground. They don’t succeed at that, but they do take him out of the play. Fortunately Dwayne Bowe, who is wide open on a crossing route, drops a pass that hits him right in the hands.

Redskins second possession

1-10-W12 – Portis runs left. Cooley motions to the left side just before the snap and manages to seal the DE to the outside. Heyer and Dockery first double up on the DT to create the inside seal, then Heyer quickly sheds off and takes out the SLB. Rabach intentionally lets the other DT slip past him (to be taken out by Will Montgomery who comes inside to trap him) so that he can get to the second level and block the MLB. Because the linemen do such a good job on the LBs, Portis gets into the secondary with Sellers, who has not had to block anyone yet, still in front of him. Sellers keeps the safety off Portis down most of the field, then finally trips up and Portis is brought down at the 10.

1-10-K10 – Collins has time in the pocket, but even with 5 guys out in routes no one is able to get open, and after looking around desperately for several second Collins has to throw it out the back of the end zone.

2-10-K10 – With an empty backfield, the line protects Collins well again. He’s trying to get Randle-El on a fade route, but due to ARE’s lack of size he is unable to get a clean release and never gets behind the (larger) DB, so the play never has a chance.

3-10-K10 – Collins has time yet again and seems to see something in the end zone, but a DT who has been hung up on a double team by Rabach and Montgomery get his hand up to bat the ball down at the line. The camera angle doesn’t show if there was an open receiver, but Collins looked confident in his throw. However, you can see two LBs playing deep who were closing in on the apparent passing lane.

Suisham kicks, Redskins take a 6-3 lead.

[at this point CBS loses the signal from FedEx and we’re stuck watching the Ravens until they get back up at the very end of the 3rd quarter. In the interim the Chiefs have mounted a 9 play drive and kicked a field goal to tie the game at 6.]

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Redskins vs. Chiefs, 2nd quarter review

First quarter review is here.

Redskins third possession of first half, in progress

3-3-W40 – Campbell gets a little pressure off the edges but he easily steps up and despite having time he throws without setting his feet. The ball is too high for Randle-El. The protection wasn’t perfect but it was good enough, and Campbell just missed the throw and lost a first down.

Chiefs fourth possession

1-10-K5 – A well executed play fake fools everyone. Haynesworth switches to run mode and tries to maintain gap discipline, meaning he generates to pass pressure at all. Carter almost gets around the outside but a RB comes to help out so Cassel has plenty if time in the pocket. The LBs have bit hard on the run and are up on the line, and the DBs are playing very deep so Bobby Wade is insanely wide open over the middle for a 16 yard gain.

1-10-K21 – A run up the middle. The three interior linemen manage to swallow up Golston and Haynesworth (who plays way too high and loses leverage so his strength is neutralized), and a double team by the RT and TE blocks Daniels to open up the hole. This means the leading fullback is able to get a block on Fletcher, and the Chiefs gain 6 up the middle.

3-12-K20 – The pocket mostly holds up except for the unfortunate LG who is up against Haynesworth. The poor guy gives a good fight but is steadily carried back into Cassel’s face. Haynesworth finally gets past him and crushes Cassel right as he throws. He has a receiver open but the pressure forces a bad throw well behind the WR.

Redskins fourth possession

1-10-W41 – Campbell is well protected and has Santana Moss wide open on a deep post. The fault for the incompletion is, I think, shared between the two of them. The throw was inaccurate, and even if Santana had caught the low ball he would have been downed immediately whereas if he caught it in stride it would have been an easy touchdown. However the ball was very catchable, even if imperfect, and we should have at least gotten a big gain out of the play.

3-4-W47 – Campbell has time again but his feet get skittish and he rushes yet another throw, trying to force it to Cooley over the middle. If the pass hadn’t been so low it may well have been picked by a LB who read Campbell’s eyes and dove in front of the pass.

Chiefs fifth possession

1-10-W33 - Big run to the right. The RG pulls and take out Orakpo’s feet, taking him out of the play. Meanwhile the LG tried to cut Haynesworth’s legs at the snap. Haynesworth stays up, but he’s tripped up a little and while he gets free to come over to the edge he’s a split second too late to the hole. Meanwhile a TE does an excellent job of blocking London Fletcher, and this also closes of Rocky McIntosh’s angle of pursuit. DeAngelo is totally walled off by Dwayne Bowe downfield, and Johnson gains 17 yards.

2-7-W33 – Haynesworth plays high again and, in a rarity, simply loses a one on one battle against the LG. The center slides past this action with the mission of getting a block on Rocky, who is lined up near the usual MLB position (Fletcher is playing aligned really deep for some reason). But Rocky misreads the play and attacks the wrong gap, so the center doesn’t even need to block him, and the RB shoots through the hole and gets a first down.

Chiefs hit a 39 yard field goal. 3-0.

Redskins fifth possession

3-5-W25 – Campbell is sacked, and it’s all on Ladell Betts. The line holds up but a LB blitzes through the gap between LG and LT. Betts picks him up and simply fails to execute the block – the LB gets low and manages to shoulder him aside.

Chiefs sixth possession

Chiefs go 3 and out in 3 rather un-noteworthy plays.

Redskins sixth possession

1-10-W12 – A DT beats Rabach and squeezes Portis’ hole. He only gets a hand on Portis, but holds him up so a safety can close and stuff the play.

2-10-W12 – Campbell again has a nice pocket and hits Fred Davis near the sideline at the 17. Davis breaks a tackle and turns it upfield to get the first down.

1-10-W45 – Betts picks up a safety blitz, and while the pressure forces Campbell to move up he still has plenty of time. Apparently no one gets open, but Campbell is seized by indecisiveness and decides too late to pull it down and run, so he is stopped after 2 yards.

4-2-K35 (6 seconds left in the half) – Campbell has time in the pocket but none of the deep routes get open. Time is expiring, so he throws it to the right side of the end zone where either Thomas or Kelly might have a shot at it, but there are four Chiefs there too and is it picked off. The DB makes a pretty nice return, but is taken down at the 36 yard line by a very impressive tackle by Stephon Heyer.

I think the most significant takeaway from reviewing the first half is that, contrary to my expectations, the offensive line was not the problem. They were not stellar but they were perfectly adequate against the weak Chiefs defense, but the receivers couldn’t get open and Campbell played as if he was under constant pressure even though he wasn’t. So on this second look, the decision to put in Collins appears pretty reasonable.

Redskins vs. Chiefs, 1st quarter review

Chiefs first possession

3-10-K20 – The Chiefs open the game with three attempted screen passes, and the Redskins blow up all of them. On this one the LT fans way too far outside apparently thinking Reed Doughty, who had lined up in the box, was a blitzer. But he’s actually in man coverage on one of the RBs so the tackle ends up blocking nothing. The LG has to pick up Orakpo who had stunted inside from the DE spot, so Haynesworth was able to exploit the hole and hit Cassel as he threw. And this was not the pressure that a team lets through on purpose to allow their blockers to set up a screen – the play was to the offensive right, and the Chiefs clearly intended to have the left side blocked.

Redskins first possession

2-1-W50 – The line doesn’t create a lot of push and Fred Davis is taken back a couple of yards, so Portis is in traffic from the beginning. He actually runs into Davis’ back but tries to bounce forward towards the line, but somewhere in there the ball pops out and the Chiefs fall on it a few yards downfield. There was no strip or crushing blow here – it just looks like a case of poor ball security.

Chiefs second possession

1-10-K47 – Chiefs run a counter to get most of the defense flowing towards the offensive left and open up space for Larry Johnson to run right. However that leaves a TE with the job of sealing Brian Orakpo, at SLB on this play, to the inside. Orakpo shows off his upper body strength by engaging the TE and simply shoving him aside, then wraps up Johnson and tosses him to the ground.

3-3-W46 – Yet another screen. Jamaal Charles catches the ball behind the RT who has pulled to the outside. However the intended running lane is pinched because DeAngelo Hall, in one of his occasional yet inconsistent displays of physical football, aggressively takes on the WR blocking him. Meanwhile, the TE attempts to seal Andre Carter to the inside but Carter just carries the TE with him as he closes in on Charles. With Hall and Carter disrupting the blocking, Kedric Golston has time to make it all the way over from his tackle position. He read the screen instantly and was able so shed his block and show some impressive hustle to make it all the way to the outside. The RB Charles is running hard though and he’s not quite brought down. But the play of these three Redskin defenders hold him up long enough for the entire defense to swarm and pile on short of the first down.

4-1-W44 – On a fullback dive the Chiefs run right at Haynesworth and send a guard diving at his feet hoping to take him to the ground. He beats this by leaping over the lineman, which is an impressive athletic feat for a DT but takes him out of the gap and the FB makes it through for the first down.

2-10-W42 – Kedric Golston again. The RG tries to take him to the inside but Golston shoves off him then stuffs the RB at the line.

3-9-W41 – And again. Chiefs run a draw out of the shotgun. Golston is doubled by the C and RG but fights them to a standstill and then spins off and gets the first hit on the RB who would otherwise racing through a pretty big hole. Golston doesn’t get the tackle but he stops the RB's progress and fills his lane, allowing the rest of the defense to close in and prevent a big gain. Go buy a Kedric Golston jersey. Now.

Redskins second possession

1-10-W20 - Portis runs off tackle but Will Montgomery, the Redskins fourth starting RG of the year, is unable to keep his man to the inside so no real hole opens up. Portis still manages to power through for two yards, but he did all the work himself.

2-8-W22 – Campbell tries to get the ball to Santana who does a quick hook on the outside, but he double pumps on a play where the ball is supposed to be released instantly, giving the DB plenty of time to recover and hit Santana as the ball arrives.

Chiefs third possession

1-10-K30 – The TE just forgets to block Brian Orakpo. Orakpo lines up at SLB right over the TE, who decides to help out the LT and let Orakpo run right by him. Cassel is rolling out to the right, but he can’t escape Orakpo by continuing to the outside because Philip Daniels has beaten the RT and trapped him in the pocket, so Orakpo easily chases him down for the sack.

3-1-K39 – Larry Johnson takes a pitch and runs to the outside. The same TE who tried to get his QB killed on first down does his job this time and seals Philip Daniels to the inside, and the RG pulls to the outside and takes out London Fletcher’s legs. Once these two guys are taken out of the play Johnson had plenty of room for an 11 yard gain because the rest of the defense had stayed inside to guard against a run up the middle.

3-10-K49 – Jeremy Jarmon is at DT and once again overpowers a guard, but Cassel keeps composure in the pocket and gets the ball out just before the pressure can disrupt the play. Meanwhile Dwayne Bowe has run a deep comeback route and momentarily gets separation from DeAngelo Hall, and Cassel delivers the ball with perfect timing off Bowe’s cut before Hall can recover. This big gain is less a defensive failure than a perfectly executed play by both QB and WR.

1-10-W32 – Jarmon is at LDE with a very wide alignment, and he beats the RT to the outside but slips just before he gets to Cassel. But the pressure keeps Cassel in the pocket so he has no escape from Chris Wilson, who blitzed from the opposite side and badly beat that same hapless TE #89.

4-2-W24 – This was a coverage sack all the way. Cassel initially has good protection, but the Redskins DBs and LBs are all over the short routes and Cassel looks to three different receivers, sees nothing, and pulls down the ball to run. But by that time Andre Carter has gotten past the LT and nails Cassel to get the sack and force the ball out, which is recovered by the Chiefs but it was 4th down anyway.

Redskins third possession

1-10-W29 – Stephon Heyer gets beaten to the outside, but Campbell manages to step up in the pocket, which is well maintained elsewhere. He needs the time, as Devin Thomas is going deep down the sideline. Thomas has a step on the DB and this is painfully close to a huge play, but Campbell throw is just a little bit off and Thomas’ diving catch ends with him landing out of bounds.

2-10-W29 – Campbell hands off to Portis, then fakes an end around to Santana Moss that fools absolutely nobody. Rabach lets a DT beat him to fill the gap and Portis is stuffed.

3-11-W27 – A DE starts Heyer to the outside, then cuts back inside and Heyer ends up twirling around and falling down in a masterpiece of physical comedy. Despite the pressure Campbell is able to get the ball to Cooley on a flat route. Cooley makes the catch 8 yards short of the first down marker, but he impresses once again with his remarkable open field running ability, which still amazes me every time, to get the first down and 14 extra yards.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Game review is coming, I swear...

I promise - PROMISE - that the first thing I am going to do tomorrow morning is to get the Chiefs game reviews going. Sorry that these have been taking so appallingly long. For what it's worth, within the next couple of weeks my work life will be clearing up a little bit, and I shouldn't have quite so difficult a time getting these up in a timely manner. Thanks for your patience everybody.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Redskins coaching candidates

Yep, we're there. Here's the names I've been kicking around in my head:

Jerry Gray - Jerry Gray, currently the Redskins secondary coach and a former defensive coordinator when Gregg Williams was in charge witht he Buffalo Bills, interviewed for the Lions job this last offseason, which means that word is out in league circles that he may have the skills to succeed as a head coach. I will admit to not knowing a lot about the man, except that he is constantly referred to as being utterly respected by everyone on the team, from players to coaches to front office.

Because I am almost always in favor of continuity, if he shows he has the management and organizational skills to be a head coach, I hope he’s given the head job and an outside coordinator is brought in for the offense. In fact I’d prefer the offensive guy be brought in at the coordinator level because expectations will naturally be unrealistically for a head coach with an offensive background.

If Gray gets the head job, current linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti can be given a crack at the defensive coordinator role. I am tired of reading about how great he is at finding weaknesses in the opponents’ offense and designing ways to exploit them – let’s give him a chance to showcase that skill. The Redskins have regularly denied other teams permission to interview Olivadotti for other roles, so it’s possible he could be a coordinator for now if he hadn’t been constantly blocked, so it’s almost like we owe him the job.

This post is about next years' coach, but incidentally I want to point out that Jerry Gray is the only option that would make a bit of sense as an interim head coach if the decision is made to get rid of Zorn while the season is still in progress.

Mike Martz – I’m surprised that I haven’t heard any media speculation about Mike Martz yet. Dan Snyder has made an honest effort to be patient with the development of the offense since 2004, and he’s probably fed up. If Snyder wants to see immediate results, this is his man. He is more likely than any other potential new coach/coordinator to increase offensive production quickly.

Now the problem is that while the better offensive production is still uncertain, increased sacks and interceptions are an absolute guarantee. So the defense will constantly be put in tight spots, especially if the turnovers and sacks are not accompanied by a proportionate increase in points. But since Martz is notorious for not prioritizing the protection of his quarterbacks, maybe he’s the best option to get some offensive results before the line is completely rebuilt, which looks like a multi-year project at this point.

One factor to consider here is that Martz has a reputation, frankly, as an arrogant jerk who no one can stand to work with. So there’s a realistic possibility he could talk his way out of town after one or two seasons and leave everything a mess.

His last two jobs (Detroit and San Francisco) have been at the coordinator level so there’s at least a possibility he could come in for the offense to go along with the Jerry Gray head coach/Olivadotti D-coordinator scenario. But given Martz’ strong personality and high profile with the media, there’s a threat the Redskins could be considered Martz’ team and the real head coach could be undermined.

[EDIT - Another factor I forgot to mention - Chris Cooley is the one and only player on offense who we can count on to be productive, and Mike Martz isn't all that interested in tight ends. I would hesitate to bring in an offensive guy who is unable or unwilling to utilize our only conistently effective player.]

Bill Cowher – The main problem with Bill Cowher is that he would transition us to a 3-4 defense, and on that side of the ball I don’t want to mess with something that works. We have invested heavily in Albert Haynesworth, who would be wasted as a simple space-eater 3-4 nose tackle. He can certainly do it, but much of his value comes from moving him around the line, working mismatches, and letting him tear up plays in the backfield. Andre Carter has been a 3-4 OLB before so that wouldn’t be much of an issue, but what about the rest of our talented front 7? London Fletcher is one of the best traditional MLBs in football – he can probably convert successfully to 3-4 inside backer, but do we want to experiment with him at this stage of his career or stick with what we know he does very well? Kedric Golston and Jeremy Jarmon have been playing very well – would their skills be transferrable to being a 3-4 end? I don’t have the football knowledge to know the answer to that, but again I don’t want to take the risk of them failing as we move them out of the roles we’ve already established they can fulfill.

And of course Cowher does nothing to help the offense – some other coordinator would have to be hired. Leaedership and the establishment of a strong culture are what Cowher is most known for. However with the Redskins the locker room and team culture are quite strong – the problem is with offensive line talent and execution on offense, and nothing about Cowher addresses those issues.

Mike Shanahan – He can certainly design an effective offense. But there are two major problems here. The first is that he will likely insist on control over personnel decisions, and that may be a deal-breaker with Snyder. And before you get excited at the prospect of a replacement for Vinny Cerrato, remember that the personnel side was always his weakness in Denver. Secondly, he would probably completely clean house and bring in his own defensive staff, and as I’ve already discussed I really want to maintain some continuity there.

Jon Gruden – The media considers Gruden the current front runner. He certainly is a dynamic personality who will keep the media entertained, but many people think his success in Tampa was because he got to ride Monte Kiffin’s elite defense. He never equaled the offensive production he got with Rich Gannon in Oakland, so it’s reasonable to think that Gannon deserves most of the credit for that. So based on track record, there’s not much reason to assume Gruden would be an offensive savior. One point in his favor is that as a purely offensive guy he might be open to the idea of keeping Gray or Olivadotti as defensive coordinator.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

(Stunned silence)


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Redskins @ Panthers 4th quarter review

Started this in the morning but my apartment lost power for several hours, so it was delayed. This one was painful to do.

Panther's third possession of the second half (in progress)

1-10-W23 – Redskins generate no pressure and Delhomme has plenty of time in the pocket to wait for Steve Smith to go downfield. Delhomme tries to get the ball to him in the corner of the end zone but Carlos Rogers times his jump well and knocks the ball down to prevent a touchdown.

3-8-W21 – Andre Carter threatens the LT upfield, then uses a swim move to beat him back to the inside. Meanwhile Haynesworth rushes to the outside and starts driving the RT back. The RT more or less hangs on, but the RG is so scared of Haynesworth on the outside that he shades in that direction in case he’s needed and a lane is opened up inside for the stunting Orakpo. Orakpo and Carter are each credited with a half sack, but this is yet another play where Haynesworth completely wrecks the opponent’s blocking scheme despite the fact that he is not credited with any sort of stat.

Even with the sack the Panthers are still in field goal range, so they kick to make it 17-12.

Redskins fourth possession

1-10-W20 – Rabach and Mike Williams get overwhelmed but the DTs, but they do manage to hold up for a few seconds and the failure of this play is really about receivers not getting open. It was a three step drop and when Campbell appeared ready to throw he still had time but had nowhere to go. On the TV view we can see Cooley and Sellers in the right flat swarmed by three defenders. Santana was in the slot and tried to get over the middle but he got clobbered by a LB at the line. By the time he got into his route Campbell had already been flushed from the pocket by the pressure up the middle. Kelly had been split wide left and went downfield, but his route was not visible on the broadcast. Campbell rolls to his left to get away from the DT, but Peppers is pursuing him down the line and forces him out right at the line of scrimmage for what technically goes down as a sack.

3-5-W25 – Cooley and Davis both line up off the line a bit, then run intersecting shallow crosses over the middle. All 3 LBs get hung up on Cooley in what is a rather obvious pick (which is illegal but never, ever called) and Davis briefly comes free on the other side of that entanglement. Davis makes the catch 3 yards short and starts to turn in up, but Panthers LB Jon Beason shows great speed to make it around Cooley’s pick, chase down Davis, and make an impressive open field tackle short of the first down. The natural reaction here is to criticize Davis for running his route short of the first down marker. However, staying shallow was the only way to beat the LBs, and the play was clearly designed to get him the ball with room to run. And the play call largely worked as intended – on this one we just have to give credit to Beason for an exceptional play.

Panthers fourth possession

3-5-W44 – Andre Carter gets around LT Jordan Gross on the outside and while Gross still has an arm on him Carter powers past him for the blindside sack.

[It was at exactly this point that the power went out, as if someone was trying to prevent me from reliving what happened next…]

4-14-C46 – The punt is high but only travels about 30 yards downfield. Randle-El comes up to field it, and of course the coverage is already there so a fair catch call is a no-brainer. Byron Westbrook is following his man downfield and does not seem to be aware of how short the kick is. His momentum makes it easier for the Panther to keep him moving back – and because Westbrook was attempting to block apparently it was legal for him to be pushed into ARE despite the fair catch signal. But at this point it was still only a minor disaster. If the ball had been allowed to bounce the Panthers would simply have downed it. But through unbelievably terrible luck, the ball bounces off of Westbrook’s outstretched foot as he and Randle-El are falling, causing it to be a muff. Panthers recover at the 12, and are given a chance to steal a game that until then the Redskins were still in control of.

2-6-W8 – The line seals most of the Redskins front 7 to the inside, but the secondary still has a chance to make this play. Mushin Muhammad lines up in the slot and puts a great block on LaRon Landry. Tryon had man coverage on Muhammad and over pursues to the area where Muhammad would have run his route if he hadn’t stopped to block Landry. Jonathan Stewart runs right through the hole vacated by Tryon.

2-point conversion – Delhomme gets rid of the ball too quickly for pressure to be a factor. The slot receiver runs right at Tryon and throws himself into him as if blocking for a run play. Steve Smith, to the outside, comes in on a quick slant and Carlos Rogers is blocked by the obvious pick by the slot guy.

Panthers 20, Redskins 17. Just like that.

Redskins fifth possession

1-10-W44 – Julius Peppers gets under Derrick Dockery and lays a big hit on Campbell, but he stands in the pocket and gets the ball out just before impact. Devin Thomas has beaten his man badly and Campbell drops the ball perfectly into his hands at the Panthers 18. Thomas drops it. This is making me want to go back to bed.

2-10-W44 – I think this could have been a bigger run. Portis gets a big hole to the left, and Sellers leads through and crushes the first MLB. Meanwhile D’Anthony Batiste has gone straight to the second level and is responsible for the WLB. But all he does is give him a weak shove with his arms rather than sealing him to the inside, and the defender is able to recover from the blow and get past Batiste to stop Portis after 3 yards.

3-7-W47 – A DT blows right past Mike Williams, not with power but with (relative) speed and elusiveness. He gets into the backfield and trips Campbell as he tries to step up. Campbell stops his falls and gets back up, and manages to lunge to the line of scrimmage and picks up 2 yards as he’s dragged down from behind. So if Mike Williams lacks the agility play guard, what made the Redskins think he could ever be an effective tackle?

Panthers fifth possession

3-3-C19 - The Panthers are in pure ball control mode, and badly need this first down to keep us from having a chance to mount a comeback in the last four minutes. They line up in an I formation offset to the right, with twin TEs also to the right. It is a pure power play and it works. The tight ends seal the LDE (couldn’t make out the number) and Orakpo to the inside. DeAngelo Hall is easily handled by the lead blocking FB. Fletcher and Rocky converge on the hole but are met by two linemen pulling all the way from the left side. Our two LBs hold their own in the resulting collision, but just enough space is opened up for the RB to get the critical first down.

The Redskins stuff the next to running plays and only have to hold on a 3rd and long to get the offense the ball back with a little bit more than a minute remaining.

3-8-W25 – The Redskins stack the box expecting the Panthers to try a power run to take 40 seconds off the clock before punting. The entire defense flows to the offensive left following the Panthers line, the fullback, and the RB who received a fake handoff. Delhomme keeps the ball and bootlegs to the opposite direction. DeAngelo Hall gets hands on Delhomme and fails to bring him down with an attempted tackle that has received plenty of attention this week and needs no further comment. He slows him up, and Jarmon is almost able to race over and save the play but he gets there just as Delhomme gets to the first down marker to seal the game.

Two kneel downs and its over.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Redskins @ Panthers 3rd quarter review

I had told you I would get the second half up Wednesday or Thursday, but ended up going to the Caps tonight so wasn't able to finish. But because I'm a man of my word I want to put something up tonight, so here's the third quarter (first half review went up Tuesday).

Redskins first possession

3-1-W32 – Draw to Betts. I was about to write about the good blocking that allowed this 7 yard run, but after watching it about 10 times I think the Panthers misplayed it. A DT slanted hard inside and made it easy for Williams to seal him there, opening a very large hole. Since there was no other defender taking his place I can only assume he failed in his gap responsibility. Meanwhile the MLB should have been able to fill that hole (especially since there was no lead blocker) but he bit hard on what was really a pretty modest counter action on the run before Betts broke to the right. Credit is due, however, to Antwan Randle El who ran a slant out of the slot and then turned to box out his defender and probably gained Betts a few more yards.

1-10-W40 – I don’t even know which blocking failure to start with. Let’s go left to right. Cooley is at left TE and is only able to give a weak arm slap as the DE races past him on the outside. D’Anthony Batiste starts outside to try to block Cooley’s man, but apparently forgets that Dockery is pulling to the right on the play so a DT easily storms through that gap. Rabach gets turned around trying to pick up that DT, so the other DT is actually pushing past Rabach’s back into the backfield. Mike Williams and Stephon Heyer manage to block the other DE and the blitzing MLB, but that leaves the WLB blitzing on the outside. Marcus Mason tries to pick him up just ole’s him. And remember Dockery pulling from the other side? Apparently the blitzing WLB was supposed to be his man, but Mason just gets in his way so Dockery can’t block anyone (Dockery gets in Mason’s face after the play). I’m having a hard time figuring out who screwed up on their own and who was prevented from doing their job due to the mistakes of others, but the end result is four Panthers on top of Jason Campbell.

3-13 – W38 – I think Heyer lacks confidence. He cheats way back, and even with a chip from Fred Davis he seems to be desperately sidestepping down the side of the pocket trying to keep pace with the DE. It appears that if he would attack the block he could seal the guy out, but instead he hangs back and waits to get beat. Campbell sidesteps the rusher and moves enough to find Davis on the drag route 3 yards past the line of scrimmage. Davis turns it upfield but is confronted by two defenders. He responds by leaping into the air, which might make sense if at that point he was 1 yard from the first down marker instead of 8. All he succeeds in doing is getting himself flipped over so he comes down headfirst and risks a spinal injury.

Panthers first possession

1-10-C25 – Delhomme runs a play action bootleg and throws to FB Brad Hoover in the flat. Rocky McIntosh is initially sucked inside by the play action, but in an impressive display of speed is able to recover to catch up to Hoover and cover him man-to-man has he goes to the outside. The ball is thrown behind Hoover and tipped into the air, and Rocky has a decent chance at an interception but can’t quite bring it down.

3-8-C27 – The pocket is gradually squeezed, but slow enough that Delhomme has time to get the ball out. The ball is thrown badly behind the open WR and bounces off his hands, and just happens to land in the grasp of DeAngelo Hall at the 45. Tryon and Doughty do a good job of forming a blocking convoy, and Orakpo gets a very key block downfield. Hall just has to split a couple defenders at the 5, but at that point Doughty has tripped over the last guy he blocked so Hall is dragged down and reaches the ball out to the 1 yard line. Hall kneels with his arms outstretched in celebration, and Carlos Rogers comes up behind him for some sort of congratulatory over-the-shoulder nipple rub that I guess you have to be a football guy to understand.

Redskins second possession

1-G-C1/2 – Out of a jumbo package Batiste and Davis get a good surge on the left side and allow Portis to go airborne for the score. Cooley [correction: actually Yoder], lined up to Davis' left, gives up the edge but Portis is so quick to the line it doesn’t matter.

Redskins 17, Carolina 2.

Panthers second possession

1-10-W40 (after a long kickoff return) – Carter is unblocked off the edge and deflects Delhomme’s attempt to throw a quick hitch. Chris Horton, who lined up a remarkable far distance from where the ball comes down, is able to dive with his arms outstretched and come painfully close to an interception.

1-10-W22 – H.B.Blades, in because Fletcher got hurt on the last play, overpursues the blocking and is fooled by the counter run when it comes back to offensive left. The LG easily gets out on Rocky, and the LT cut blocks Haynesworth to the ground. The resulting pileup also prevents Andre Carter from getting to the hole and Jonathan Stewart gains 5 yards.

1-10-W17 – Panthers form a good pocket, but Hayneworth gets free with a spin move, gets his hands up, and comes oh-so-close to batting the pass back into Delhomme’s face. But it just slips past his arm, and Delhomme gets a touchdown pass to the TE. Brian Orakpo had man coverage and was badly beat, which leads me to ask why a college DE who has played linebacker for 4 games in his life is entrusted with downfield coverage. Orakpo is a pass rusher and a damn good one. Use him that way.

Redskins 17, Carolina 9.

Redskins third possession

1-10-W30 – The middle of the line just bogs down into a mess, but the RDE rushes way outside and leaves a gaping hole to the offensive left, but Portis’ field vision deserts him and he dives right into the scrum for no gain.

1-10-C44 – Rabach and Dockery are both pushed back from the line, but Betts is stuffed in the backfield by a DE who first attacked Cooley head on and got him to set his feet, then redirected and beat him badly to the outside. At what point will Jim Zorn realize that Cooley is incapable of holding the edge on a running play, ever?

3-11-C45 – A DT gets penetration against Mike Williams as if Williams isn’t there. A back – I can’t make out whether its Portis or Betts - puts a great block on a blitzing LB, but that means no one is left to pick up the guy who beat Williams. Campbell does an admirable job of hanging in the pocket and despite not being able to step into his throw fires a bullet to Randle-El over the middle, who is able to turn it upfield for a first down. But – D’Anthony Batiste lined up too far off the line trying to give himself and advantage in pass pro, and huge, huge first down is taken away.

3-16-50 – Campbell initially has good protection, but as he looks downfield its clear no one is getting open. He steps up as the edges finally cave, then sees a hole to the left and leaves the pocket before seeing Fred Davis get free. Davis makes the catch and turns it upfield, but 4 yards from the first down line Davis again tries to leap over a defender and is again upended. Davis fumbles after crashing to the ground head first but it is clearly caused by the ground. That’s the second time this quarter Davis has tried to crush his own spine, which is deeply upsetting to me, color commentator Brian Billick, and no doubt Fred Davis’ mom.

4-3-C37 – Campbell tries a quick slant to Moss, but it’s batted down due to a very nice leap from a LB blitzing on the offensive left side.

Panthers third possession

2-6-C40 – Carter stunts to the inside, but all he succeeds in doing is getting himself gummed up in the middle. Orakpo rushes from the outside and soundly beats the RB who tries to pick him up, but his hit on Delhomme comes just after the ball leaves his hand. Steve Smith makes the catch at the Redskins 43.

[3rd quarter ends]

A question for you: Is it annoying when I post a single quarter rather than a full half? I do it for the sake of getting things up quicker, but they look like pretty brief posts. So would you rather get fragmentary reviews faster, or wait a bit longer and get a full half at a time? I'm new at this blog thing, so I certainly want to hear what you all would prefer to read. You can answer in the comments section or to

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Redskins @ Panther first half review

Here's the TiVo review the first half of the Panthers loss. As always this is not a full game narrative, but a breakdown of selected plays that are in some way notable, intersting, or informative.

Panthers first possession

1-10-C19 – Another play disrupted by Albert Haynesworth. The Panthers line is flowing to the left and he blows right past the LG. He’s not quite agile enough to bring down DeAngelo Williams, but the extra time Williams wastes putting on a spin move allows Carter, Orakpo, and Golston to converge on him 5 yards in the backfield. I can’t tell for certain whether the fumble was caused by Golston’s big hit or by Orakpo reaching around to poke it out, but Haynesworth was able to out-wrestle Williams for the ball.

Redskins first possession

2-7-C10 – I’m conflicted about Portis’ role on this touchdown. The four D-linemen were swallowed up just fine, but a blitz by the MLB put pressure on Campbell. Portis initially hung back to block but apparently missed that the MLB was coming (any lapse in pass protection would be exceedingly rare for Portis) and went out into the flat. So if he’d picked up the blitz properly he wouldn’t have been available to catch the touchdown pass – but Campbell may not have needed to dump off anyway. Of course there’s no way to know for sure that another receiver would have gotten open had Portis bought Campbell enough time. Also, this is the play where Chris Samuels got the stinger that aggravated his apparently long-term spinal condition. As soon as he makes contact you see him lock up, and as the DE runs past him Samuels sinks to his knees with his arms in a clutching position in front of him. As bad as we need the offensive line to hold together, I hope they keep Samuels out until they are certain there is no risk of permanent damage. This looked like pretty scary stuff to me. On a more cheerful note, there was a lot of crowd noise after this TD from Redskins fans who either made the trip down or are holdouts from when the Carolinas were Redskins country.

Panthers second possession

1-10-C19 – A run up the middle by DeAngelo Williams. The LT ignores Carter at RE and instead tries to cut Haynesworth legs from under him. The LT is too slow getting low, so Haynesworth helps him out by putting a hand on his back and shoving him the rest of the way to the ground. This allows Haynesworth to hurtle him, grab Williams from behind, and pull him down for a 2 yard gain.

3-6-C23 – Kedric Golston grabs the center by the shoulder pads and drives him back seven yards. The C only saves Delhomme’s life by collapsing under the onslaught and letting Golston trip over him. Under this pressure, and more by Doughty and a stunting lineman whose number I could never make out, Delhomme has to make a bad throw just to get it out.

Redskins second possession

1-10-W39 – Here’s the devastating play action I miss from 2008. Line crashes left and Campbell does a good play fake before bootlegging right. But what really sells the fake is Randle-El initially cutting inside as if he’s getting in position to cut off his DBs route to Portis’ inside run, but then breaks it outside to get wide open in the flat. First down.

3-8-C37 – Campbell in shotgun. D’Anthony Batiste is utterly destroyed by a spin move from his DE. The rest of the protection holds up, but Batiste’s man gets there so fast Campbell has no chance to escape and the ball is stripped on the way down (Mike Williams falls on it).

Panthers third possession

Three and out.

Redskins third possession

1-10-W11 – Zone run to the right. Mike Williams loses the leverage battle against the DT and gets pushed back off the line. This forces Sellers and Portis to take a longer route to the edge and almost allows the backside pursuit to catch up before Portis can make it to the hole. Also Rabach does a good job of getting free of the linemen, but completely fails to pick up the MLB and instead turns around and blocks a safety who happens to be nearby.

2-4-W28 – A DT shoves Rabach to the side purely on upper body strength. Portis tries to pick him up with his usual admirable ferocity, but a DT is a DT so he can only slow him down a little. Campbell is initially able to sidestep the pressure and step up, but another pass rusher manages to go the long way around Mike Williams, then wrap back around inside and bring Campbell down for the sack. The long way around Mike Williams is a pretty good trip.

3-7-W25 – Second consecutive sack, and this one’s on Dockery. He gives up the penetration to Julius Peppers and because the play is run out of an empty backfield there are no short dump off options, and the long-developing routes don’t give Campbell anywhere to go in the little time he has.

Panthers fourth possession

1-10-C42 – Delhomme hits TE Jeff King for a first down, and Orakpo, who is in man coverage, manages to go through the entire play with his back to the QB. If he had been looking into the backfield at all there’s no way this throw would have gotten through. Mr. Blache, please just let Brian Orakpo be a DE.

2-17-C48 – Carlos Rogers comes on a corner blitz, and Delhomme goes by the book and throws it where Rogers came from. Landry came over at the snap to pick up coverage, but he just can’t match the elusive Steve Smith who curls inside to make the catch and convert 2nd and 17 to 3rd and 4.

3-4-W39 – Orakpo is back where he should be – rushing the passer. The LG and C apparently forget that Haynesworth is temporarily out of the game and double-team Lorenzo Alexander, allowing the LT to get eaten up by Orakpo’s relentless mix of speed and power. Jeremy Jarmon, again rushing from DT, also collapses in against the RG and gives Delhomme nowhere to step up, so Orakpo takes him down for the sack. I think the Redskins are going to be just fine along the defensive line for a long time to come. Late flag though – Orakpo had been lined up in the neutral zone, and the 5 yard penalty gives the Panthers a first down.

3-4-W28 – Slant to Mushin Muhammad. Justin Tryon has him man to man from the beginning and it looks like he tries to chuck him at the line, but the much bigger WR just shoves him away and easily gets the inside positioning. Tryon has played very well since being given an increased role, but just like Carlos Rogers size will always be an issue for him.

1-G-W2 – In a likely power running situation, Haynesworth is lined up at RDE with Golston and Philip Daniels in the middle. The linemen manage to get penetration and the LBs close quickly to stuff the run, but Haynesworth was out of the play. I’m not so much criticizing this so much as I’m legitimately curious what the intention was here.

2-G-W2 - Same defensive alignment, and I guess I shouldn’t question it as Golston and Daniels again prevent any push from the interior linemen and LBs converge to stuff the play.

3-G-W2 – This play almost got stuffed at the line again, but the RB was able to spin off and was incredibly close to making it into the end zone. But DeAngelo Hall, somewhat surprisingly, sticks his nose right in there and drives him back in the kind of nasty, physical play that Hall is not usually known for.

4-G-W1 – A FB dive, and while he has an ever so brief breach, Landry and Rocky McIntosh stick him at the goal line to force the fumble, which is recovered by a Panther in the end zone so it cannot be legally advanced and the play fails.

What an encouraging goal line stand. I sure hope nothing disastrous happens after this.

Redskins fourth possession

2-8-W3 – With 3 yards of cushion, there’s no way a safety should occur on a running play. Stephon Heyer gets way too high and Julius Peppers blows him off the line and penetrates to the end zone. Color commentator Brian Billick rips Mike Sellers on this play (on his note cards due to the Portis-Sellers spat from earlier in the week), saying the fullback’s responsibility on a goal line play is to punch a hole through the line rather than move laterally to try to get to the corner. But my read is that Sellers was never able to get forward momentum because Stephon Heyer was getting thrown backward into his face. If Sellers hadn’t dodged him and tried to get to the outside, I think Portis would have been flattened under Heyer’s and Sellers’ bodies and Peppers wouldn’t have even needed to tackle him.

Panthers fifth possession

1-10-W28 – Andre Carter blindsides Delhomme after blowing past the LT with a pure speed rush, and even knocks the ball out but Delhomme falls on it. The Panthers left tackle Jordan Gross is actually quite good (I wanted the Redskins to sign him this offseason but they locked him up before he hit the market), so don’t think Carter is only looking good by playing against weak blocking.

Redskins fifth possession

1-10-W21 – Portis on a counter play. No lead blocker. He first blows through a DL’s arm tackle at the LOS, then lowers his shoulder and bowls over a DB 2 yards past the line, then is finally dragged down by three defenders 4 yards after that.

1-10-W33 – D’Anthony Batiste would have been beat to the outside but Portis is there in his role as best pass blocking back in the NFL to neutralize Julius Peppers. Campbell is otherwise well protected and steps up in the pocket, then rifles a ball to Santana who is all the way down at the Panthers 45 without a defender within 5 yards of him. He’s hit from behind by a safety and the ball is jarred loose, but Cooley is there to recover it.

1-10-C43 – Another very strong play action bootleg, and Campbell gets to the outside just as Randle-El comes open at the first down line. At this point, even without Chris Samuels, it almost looked like the offense was on the verge of “clicking” again, as we’ve seen it do at isolated moments this season.

1-10-C22 – Portis runs right. Stephon Heyer initially double teams the DT with Mike Williams, and then sheds off him to get out to a LB. But Williams, who at that point has the DT directly in front of him, allows him to escape back to the outside. Meanwhile Fred Davis, who is supposed to take a DE to the outside, is literally tossed to the ground and his DE and Williams’ DT smother Portis after 2 yards.

2-8-W20 – Moss runs a deep corner to the end zone. Campbell is looking at him from the snap and knows he has one on one coverage, but the DB is tugging on Moss’ jersey in the end zone and slows him down enough for the ball to be overthrown. Moss is known for whining for a PI flag every time he misses a pass, but I think this one was totally legit and may have been a touchdown if not for the interference.

3-8-W20 – Batiste is beat one on one on the left side, and his guy would have gotten to Campbell if Batiste hadn’t collared him around the neck, for which he was subsequently flagged (declined). Meanwhile the rushers on the other side stunt. Heyer and Williams don’t get crossed up at all, but switch assignments and manage to each get beat individually even though they had an extra second or two to get set and the defenders had already sacrificed forward momentum. Campbell backpedals 10 more yards beyond where he set up in shotgun and pegs the ball at the ground for what should have been intentional grounding a loss of down all the way back outside of field goal range.

Suisham makes the kick to make it 10-2.

Panthers sixth possession

Panthers complete a few passes against soft coverage, but are forced to try Hail Mary from the 44 that is somehow thrown well to the right of the end zone.

Well, that really wasn't so bad. But God am I dreading reliving that second half. Speaking of which, I will get the second half review up soon - either Wednesday or Thursday.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Acceptance is the first step towards recovery

It's taken me over a day, but I am no longer in the fetal position gently rocking myself and I think I'm ready to talk about what happened yesterday. I had about 30 seconds of confidence as we recovered a fumble on the opening play and then immediately capitalized for a score. But of course Chris Samuels got hurt on that touchdown play, and the offense was all downhill from there. And despite the Redskins poor play, the loss was made all the more torturous because we may have eked out yet another ugly win if not for the flukiest of all fluke plays.

Only one game is left in the so-called "easy" part of the schedule, and the Redskins are 2-3. And as we all know, those two wins could have been easily been losses based on a couple of bounces of the ball.

The masthead of this blog says it is opposed to irrational despair following a loss. Note that rational despair is still fully bounds. I think we're there.

Yesterday it was at least reasonable to hope that the Redskins offense was underperforming its true level and there could be an outside chance it could turn it around. Instead, the Panthers loss had a feeling of conclusiveness. The receivers can't get open (whether through lack of ability or failed play calling is not clear), the line cannot protect the quarterback or open holes in the run game. These have been problems for some time now, but it finally is decided that this is who the Redskins are and there's no adjustment that can patch these flaws. Not only that, they are likely to get worse still.

The worst case scenario on the offensive line has come to pass - according to WaPo next week we're looking at this starting lineup:

LT Stephon Heyer
LG Derrick Dockery
C Casey Rabach
RG Will Montgomery/Chad Rinehart
RT Mike Williams

I would not blame Jason Campbell for calling in sick next week. And for the record, neither Jay Cutler nor Mark Sanchez would survive behind this line either. And even if they did the receivers wouldn't be open or Devin Thomas would drop their perfectly placed passes down the sideline.

Chris Samuels' injury, initially described as a stinger, now apparently has something to do with Stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spine, which sounds both chronic and really damn scary. I'm not a doctor and don't pretend to understand Stenosis. But any time I start hearing about tingling in a narrowed spine, I figure its pretty serious.

So the question cannot be avoided: if we're 2-2 against terrible teams (not counting the Giants, obviously), and the two wins were by the skin of our teeth, and the offense is likely to get worse instead of better, what's going to happen againg the NFC East, Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans, and San Diego? Is the hope now to eke out at least six wins so we can be merely a bad team, rather than laughable?

I still see nothing at all to be gained from a head coaching change mid-season, but clearly the chances of Zorn being brought back next year are exceedingly slim, barring some sort of miraculous comeback which at this stage just doesn't look like a reasonable hope.

I will be diving into the TiVo right after posting this, so maybe I will emerge from the game review more level-headed, as is often the case. There is an outside chance the first half review will go up tonight, but at the latest it should be up Tuesday.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Soap opera week at Redskins Park

Here' something of a grab-bag post for gameday, and unfortunately due to all the drama this week there's a lot of non-football items on it.

- First there's the Sellers-Portis tiff, which was quickly upgraded to a "feud" by the TMZ of football, Pro Football Talk. My own sense of this is that this sort of thing happens all the time on football teams, especially when things are going poorly, and the Redskins were just unlucky that this one made it into the media. And based on some of Portis' comments since the "incident," I doubt this is a long term problem. It looks to me like two guys got hot headed during a stressful time and it got out of hand. Until we see evidence that this is a simmering locker room problem, I am going to assume that these are two grown men (even if one of them is a little nuts) who can put it behind them. And of course a win today would do wonders to make this story look like ancient history.

- Potentially of greater concern is Greg Blache's state of mind. Secondary coach Jerry Gray (who just may be getting groomed for greater things - more on that in a later post) will now be taking all of Blaches meda questions. And with all the talk of Blache "needing a break," it seems like something is going on. One side effect - if Blache is feeling "burned out" as a defensive coordinator he's certainly not a candidate for interim head coach.

- Then, of course, the arrival of the dreaded "consultant." (Sherm Lewis to Stump Mitchell: "What would you say you do here?"). If you're Zorn there's no way not to assume that Lewis' role is to force you out of your job, or even take it for himself. Once again we're talking about professionals here, and while Zorn has the ego required of any head coach he badly wants to succeed, so just maybe the coaching staff and the new guy will be able to work together productively. But if not, there is every reason to worry that Zorn's credibility with the players can be undercut. This has to be managed carefully to keep the players from getting the perception that ownership is giving up on Jim Zorn and the rest of the season.

- Steinberg got a hold of Merril Hoge of NFL Matchup to get a professional opinion on the Redskins' offensive problems, and he sure makes it looks like Zorn's unwillingness to adjust teh scheme to suit his players' abilities is the problem:

"'I don't think they try to take advantage of their strengths. It's like they've got a philosophy and they want to run it regardless.... That, to me, is the biggest way to fail as a coach. Just watch the Tampa game. They did nothing to help their guys. The quarterback has nowhere to throw the ball, so then he gets sacked and looks like an idiot.'
Specifically, Hoge said the Bucs--once famous for the Tampa-2 zone--were running man concept stuff in their secondary for the majority of the game. He said the Redskins were countering with pass routes that would be most effective against zone schemes. He cited one 3rd-and-10 play in which the Skins ran three curl independent curl routes.
`Man, you're never gonna win a curl route against man, ever,' Hoge said. `Give 'em an option route. Stack your receivers. Run them across the field. You just can't run zone concept stuff and think you're gonna win [those battles]. You're not.'"

Enjoy the game today. The defense is going up against a turnover machine at quarterback, so no more messing around with generating pressure but not quite getting there. I wan't Delhomme on his back and the ball in the defense's hands.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Redskins vs. Buccaneers: Final thoughts

Such a nightmarish first half, and such a satisfying second half. The game review went up in several pieces:

Initial reactions

First half play breakdowns

Third quarter play breakdowns

Fourth quarter play breakdowns

Finally, here are the wrap up thoughts after going over what may have been an extremely critical game:

I cannot exaggerate the extent to which Jason Campbell looked utterly broken in the first half. I thought we were watching the end of Campbell as a viable quarterback and, as I wrote last Sunday night, I was even hoping to see him benched because it was just painful to watch him go through it.

I likewise can’t exaggerate how different he looked in the second half. He was the confident, in-command QB that we occasionally see for a quarter or so every two weeks or so.

I am utterly flabbergasted by Jim Zorn’s insistence on running behind Chris Cooley. He is simply incapable of run blocking effectively, and has been single handedly responsible for the failure of more running plays this year than I care to count.

Without Mike Sellers I don’t think we would have any running game at all. That’s an indictment of the offensive line, not Portis.

Fred Davis can pass protect well, but doesn’t run block much better than Cooley.

Even by the modest standards of a guard, I’m starting to think that Derrick Dockery is seriously lacking in agility.

Chris Samuels really is a shell of his former self.

If you happen to run into Shaun Suisham in a bar, buy him a drink for doing a credible job as fill-in punter after Hunter Smith strained his groin. A single shank could have lost this game, and the pressure on him must have been incredible.

In this game the Redskins finally got back to selling play action as effectively as they did when the offense was clicking in the beginning of last year.

I think Jeremy Jarmon was an absolute steal as a third round pick. This game was something of a coming out party for him. And for a guy who was supposed to be a non-factor as a rookie due to a lack of upper body strength, he sure looked overpowering at times.

So I'm not sure what this game means. Was the first half rock bottom, and the second half a better indicator of how the Redskins will play moving forward? Or was the second half performance the abberation, and the flaws that were on display in the first half a better indication of this team's true level?

Redskins vs. Buccaneers - 4th quarter review

Here's the last of the play breakdowns for you. First half was here, 3rd quarter was here. In just a few minutes I'm going to put up my final week 4 thoughts in a seperate post.

Redskins fourth possession (of the second half)

2-9-W48 – First the pass protection: A DT simply bounces off of Dockery due to Dockery’s clearly superior strength, but then the same defender is able to slip to his right. He is only prevented from threatening Campbell because of a chop block by Dockery and Casey Rabach. Meanwhile Campbell tries to go deep to Santana but Aqib Talib, who had been trailing behind him, makes a great leaping catch for his third interception. This looked pretty bad given all of Campbell’s first half turnovers, but taken in isolation I think it was a reasonable throw and an exceptional play by Talib.

Buccaneers fifth possession

2-5-W47 – Andre Carter blows past the LT with a pure speed rush, but Josh Johnson once again wheel out of the way. Carter gets up and pursues, and meanwhile Haynesworth has beaten his double team (surprise!), so both are closing in on him as Johnson tries to get the ball to the RB at the first down marker. I believe the errant throw was caused by the contact from Carter.

2-4-W36 – Cadillac Williams gains 7 on a pitch due to some good Bucs line play. The line crashes right. The LG cuts Golston and take him to the ground, while the LT gets straight to the second level and takes on Orakpo, sealing the alley opened up where Golston used to be. Meanwhile TE Kellen winslow, who had motioned inside just before the snap, manages to slow up RDE Lorenzo Alaxander just enough to prevent backside pursuit.

2-G-W5 – The Bucs line up three TEs to the left hoping to force the defense to commit to that side, but Landry reads the run to the right instantly and as soon as the ball is snapped he shoots into the backfield untouched to take down the RB for a loss.

3-G-W8 – The camera angle doesn’t show the receivers, but clearly nobody was open in the end zone as Johnson decides to scramble before the pass rush seriously threatens him. The entire defense is expecting a scramble, of course, and they stay in their zone just long enough to prevent him from throwing on the move and then close in and take him down at the 4 without him ever having a serious chance to score.

Bucs kick a FG to make it 16-14. Huge, huge, stop by the defense to preserve the lead, and to prevent Campbell’s latest turnover from cancelling out all of the progress we saw in the second half.

Redskins fifth possession

Clock killing time, which is my favorite part of any football game.

1-10-W30 – Counter. Line crashed left, Portis takes a step to the left then cuts it back right through a hole opened up by Cooley and Sellers who both lined up as TEs on the right. So yes, I’m not just picking on Cooley. When he blocks well I will gladly say so, and this was a great block. About 5 yards down field Portis put a nice move on a safety in the open field to leave him behind and make it to the first down marker.

1-10-W40 – I think this was supposed to be a zone play to the left, and I think Rabach missed the LB he was supposed to pick up, but can’t be sure from the replay. Stuffed after 1 yard.

3-5-W45 – Portis on a draw – he has a hole, but I think he barely trips on a lineman’s foot and although his momentum almost takes him to the first down marker, he ends up coming down about half a yard short, so the defense has one more stop to make.

This punt, by Shaun Suisham, is where disaster easily could of struck. This was a high pressure punt as a shank would give the Bucs field position and an easy opportunity to get into field goal range and steal a game that would have been crushing to the Redskins’ psyches (not to mention those of their fans). Instead he angles it nicely and it goes out at the 19, which wouldn’t be great for a real punter but given this isn’t actually Suisham’s job and it was a critical situation, I’m pretty pleased with it.

Buccaneers sixth possession

1-10-TB19 – Johnson is under serious pressure from both Carter and Jeremy Jarmon, who has been getting a lot of play at DT in pass rush situations. Johnson lacks the time to let something develop downfield, so he hits Antonio Bryant on a shallow cross but Chris Horton is all over the route and takes him down right after the catch and keeps him from getting to the sideline.

2-7-T22 – Carter, Jarmon (at DT again) and Orakpo collapse the pocket, but when Johnson tries to scramble Haynesworth is hanging back at the line of scrimmage waiting for him. Johnson is able to slip past Albert, but the fact that he was slowed up at the line is what prevents a bigger run. The extra second gives time for theDBs to close in and Doughty and Justin Tryon take him down short of the first down.

3-1-T29 – Jarmon is still at tackle, and pushes into the backfield against a double team. Bucs run a draw, and Jarmon spins around off of his blockers to swipe out the ball. Incredible play by the rookie. Redskins recover.

Redskins sixth possession

1-10-T29 – Victory formation.

2-11-T30 – Victory formation. Campbell remains up for several seconds to get the gameclock down to exactly :40, so even though the Bucs have one timeout left the next play is guaranteed to kill the game. Very nice.

3-14-T – Victory formation. Game.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Redskins vs. Buccaneers 3rd quarter review

This third quarter was so beautiful I wanted to get the review up for you as soon as possible. Fourth quarter and final thoughts will follow fairly early tomorrow.

Buccaneers first possession

3-7-T41 – Bucs line up in a trips bunch formation. DeAngelo Hall is covering a WR in the shallow flat while Carlos Rogers is trailing Antonio Bryant on a crossing route from the other side of the field. Hall sees that QB Josh Johnson is locked in on Bryant and drops back off his man to step in front of Johnson’s throw for the pick.

Redskins first possession

3-7-T38 – DT Chris Hovan drives to the outside and forces Derrick Dockery to commit, then DE Stylez White stunts inside. Dockery is left reaching back to his right trying to slow down white, then Hovan beats Samuels as well. Jason Campbell does a nice job of evasion, and continues looking downfield on the move before deciding to take off. He gains the first down after Chad Rinehart comically leaps out of his way.

1-10-T29 – Portis runs to the right but is stuffed for one yard because Stephon Heyer initially get his man to the outside to create the lane, but lacks the upper body strength to seal him there.

Redskins kick a field goal to make it 10-3

Buccaneers second possession

1-10-T13 – Bucs attempt a zone run to the left. Cornelius Griffin rides with his guard as the line slides to the offensive left, then comes off him to fill the hole, and Philip Daniels unblocked on the right gives the back no where to turn.

… 3 and out

Redskins second possession

2-2-W39 - Screen to Cooley. Cooley breaks three tackles for a 17 yard gain. I am always amazed by Cooley’s open field running ability. He’s not that fast, he’s not that strong, he just knows how to maintain balance and avoid solid blows.

1-10-W44 – Either Sellers (who had motioned to left TE) or Samuels blew their assignment, as they both dodged the DE and tried to get out to block the LB, so of course the DE easily got to Portis in the backfield, and only Portis’ momentum turned this into a 2 yard gain.

4-2-T36 – Bucs stack the line and bite on play action, which was sold very well by the Redskins offensive line. Campbell is pressured by Wilkerson, who had easily beaten Heyer to the inside, but he remains calm, rolls to his right, and finds Cooley sitting in a hole in the Bucs zone coverage. Twelve yards and a key first down.

2-10-W24 – Another well executed play action to get Fred Davis the ball on a screen play, but Stephon Heyer is once again unable to execute a block and a defender barrels in to trip up Davis for a loss.

1-15-T17 – Perfect touchdown throw. Campbell steps up in the pocket, goes through his reads with confidence, and rifles the ball over the head of a trailing linebacker to hit Cooley in the end zone. Beautiful, and so very badly needed.

Then just to be irritating, Ronde Barber blocks the extra point. Which NEVER happens. Almost, but no quite, enough to make me think enough would go wrong to cancel out the Redskins accomplishments since half time. Bucs 10, Redskins 9.

Buccaneers third possession

3-3-T27 – Intriguing pass rush. Three lineman – Haynesworth at RE, Jeremy Jarmon at NT, and Andre Carter at LE. Jarmon crashes to his right, while Haynesworth stunts to his left. Jarmon manages to keep the C and LG occupied, and Orakpo from LB ties up the tackle, and Haynesworth once again embarrasses an isolated RG. Carter forces Johnson to step up into where Haynesworth is four yards in the backfield, and a less mobile QB would have been buried. This bastard, of course, just slips away again and get chased by the entire defense for an additional 9 seconds (yes, I timed it) until London Fletcher finally takes him down a yard short of the line of scrimmage.

Redskins third possession

1-10-W41 – A simple yet beautiful touchdown. All the linemen hold their blocks, Santana destroys his DB with a double move, and Campbell delivers a ball right in his hands and so perfectly that he doesn’t have to break stride and has an easy run into the end zone. Redskins 16, Bucs 9.

Buccaneers fourth possession

Defense comes out fired up and forces a 3 and out as the quarter end.

This quarter of football was so refreshing I almost wanted to rewind it and watch it yet again.

Should be able to get up 4th quarter review and a lot of final thoughts fairly early tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mid-week links

Curly R expands on the idea that the Sherm Lewis hiring spells doom for Jim Zorn.

And Sherman Smith's reaction gives even more evidence that Zorn and his staff were not at all on board with this addition. The gist: “I don’t think he’ll tell us anything we don’t already know... We feel the scheme is good. I don’t think he’ll come in and say you need to run this route two yards deeper or you need to do more of this or that. We don’t think that’s the issue. Our players and we agree, we just need to do everything better. We don’t need to do anything different.”

On a slightly lighter note, Matt Terl introduces us to our new punter. Don't get too attached, he's clearly just a temp. This was the first I learned that left-footed punters find frequent one-week employment opportunities in the NFL.

Redskins vs. Buccaneers first half review

Redskins first possession

2-6-W24 – A very disturbing sack. Against a straight-forward four man rush, three different linemen are beaten in one on-one matchups. Campbell is trapped between Samuels, Heyer, and Rinehart and goes down for a four yard loss.

3-10-W20 – Heyer and Samuels are both beaten again, but this would have been survivable had Campbell been able to step up into the pocket. Unfortunately, Jimmy Wilkerson, rushing from the DT position, manages to get past Rinehart to Rinehart’s left. He bounces off of Casey Rabach, who is blocking no one but somehow manages to not to pick him up. Wilkerson penetrates to the exact point Campbell is trying to step up to, and forces the fumble.

Buccaneers first possession

2-G-W8 – The Bucs sell a play fake very effectively and all the LBs, who may well have been able to fill the passing lanes and break up this pass, get sucked into the line of scrimmage. It becomes simple at that point – two receivers are in the end zone, each with one-on-one man coverage, and Josh Johnson has clear throwing lanes and plenty of time behind max protect to choose which one is more open. Carlos Rogers does’t blow the coverange at all, but he is victimized for the touchdown due to his size disadvantage and a perfect throw.

Redskins second possession

1-10-W24 – Derrick Dockery opens up a hole, and Sellers takes out the LB who tries to fill it. Portis would have gotten more than four yards if Ronde Barber hadn’t come unblocked from the other side of the line and chased him down from behind. Dockery walled off his man on the earlier sacks, and at this point is the only lineman who has looked at all effective.

2-6-W28 – Handoff to Betts from shotgun. Rabach gets occupied helping Dockery on his man. Dockery does not in any way need the help. Rabach doesn’t notice that a LB is shooting through the enormous gap he has left open, and Betts gets taken down for a loss by an untouched defender.

Buccaneers second possession

1-10-T31 – I think Haynesworth loses gap discipline, which is not at all unheard of. He beats his lineman, but through the wrong gap, and while he gets penetration once on the other side of the line he isn’t quite able to get to the RB before he is through the gap Haynesworth was supposed to be filling. Fourteen yard gain.

2-6-50 – Orakpo is just too quick for the TE Jerramy Stevens. He beats him to the outside and would have gotten the sack had Stevens not pulled him to the ground in desperation. Orakpo is still able to get up and almost wrap up Johnson, but Johnson is able to just slither free and run for several yards, which are of course cancelled by the holding call on Stevens.

2-16-T40 – Handoff from shotgun. Kedric Golston uses his strength to hold his ground on the line of scrimmage, and maintains his gap responsibility to shed off his man and stuff the run.

3-13-T43 – This pass rush didn’t get there, but I liked it. Redskins lined up in a 3-2-6 with Golston at tackle, Andre Carter and Haynesworth at ends, and Orakpo as LB up close to the LOS (Fletcher is deeper in pass coverage). Golston almost penetrates and requires a double team to be slowed down, and Haynesworth at RDE rushes to the inside to try to open up a gap for Orakpo, who blitzes to the outside. It happens that Orakpo is slowed by a good chip from the RB who later caught the dumpoff pass (well short of the first down, and blanketed by Reed Doughty) but plays like this show how much fun we can have with our talented linemen.

The punt is short and wobbly. It appears from the camera angle that it will bounce straight into the endzone well before any Bucs can get there, but Antwaan Randle-El apparently thinks it’s in danger of going out of bounds and picks it up at the 4 yard line.

Redskins third possession

2-5-W9 – Cooley is lined up at FB and tries to be the lead blocker. The line does it’s job and opens up a big hole between LG and LT, but the LB who fills it unsurprisingly shoots right past Cooley and Portis is tripped up in the backfield, then stuffed at the line. I cannot imagine why it would ever even occur to Jim Zorn to use Cooley as a lead blocker on a power run.

Buccaneers third possession

2-9-T34 – Carlos Rogers makes a great play to bust up a quick hitch to the slot receiver. Rogers is covering the split end, who is clearly supposed to block him and give the slot guy room to run with nobody on him man to man. But Rogers reads the play from the beginning and reacts before the SE can get into his block. Rogers closes on the slot receiver as soon as the ball touches his hands and forces an incompletion.

3-14-T29 – Haynesworth is lined up at RDE and stunts to the left. On the way he reads the screen and makes it to the other side to break up the pass, and even nearly intercept it. He’s able to make it over because Kedric Golston occupies all of the interior blockers. Our defensive line makes me feel warm inside.

Redskins fourth possession

1-10-T43 – Portis runs to the right, and once again Cooley is unable to seal the corner. Sellers gets downfield and open up yards that Cooley never gives Portis the opportunity to gain.

3-4-T38 – Dockery is beaten by a stunt and the resulting pressure forces Campbell out of his desired passing lane. As a result, I think, he throws behind Malcolm Kelly and the ball bounces right off the hands of the trailing DB.

4-4-T38 – Campbell from shotgun. He has a nice pocket, but locks onto Kelly’s crossing route and forces the throw even though Kelly is thoroughly, utterly, unmistakably double covered. Intercepted by Aqib Talib. This looked like a desperation play by a quarterback who was afraid to hear more boos if he failed to convert on fourth down.

Buccaneers fourth possession

2-6-T40 – Haynesworth uses his agility to slip past the LG, who is left blocking air in a rather comical manner (he even maintains good leverage against the empty space). Haynesworth then bowls over the center to flush Johnson from the pocket, and the LG recovers from his shock and confusion to turn around push Haynesworth down from behind, which is totally illegal but nobody notices. Johnson shows more of his increasingly infuriating mobility to escape from the collapsing pocket and get within a yard of the first down, but the play is called back due to a hold (not on anyone who was attempting to block Haynesworth).

[Second Quarter]

3-11-T44 – Justin Tryon lines up as if to cover the slot receiver but blitzes instead. The RT is frozen by a stunt to the inside by Andre Carter so Tryon comes in untouched. Johnson tries to escape to the left side but Tryon chases him down from behind.

Redskins fifth possession

2-4-W30 – Campbell loses his pocket presence. Dockery has to drop way into the backfield to pick up a man who stunted to the outside. However the rest of the pocket was intact, and Campbell needed only make a step up or to the right to buy himself plenty of time. Instead he panics and throws a ball about six yard short to Cooley. Just to make it worse, Casey Rabach is called for holding.

2-14-W20 – Campbell is well protected off the play fake, and throws a very accurate 11 yard pass to Santana Moss on a crossing route. But there were two defenders closing in on Santana – if the pass had been off by a foot to either side it may have been picked.

1-10-W35 – Perfect zone play. Casey Rabach is able to slip to the second level and take on a LB (which he can still do very capably) and Portis gains 7 yards.

1-10-W46 – Play fake and seven step drop, but only two receivers go out and apparently neither gets open, as Campbell is forced up in the pocket. Cooley comes off his block and is right in front of Campbell for and easy dumpoff with absolutely no potential tacklers in front of him, but Campbell panics and somehow manages to overthrow him from about 5 feet away.

3-2-T46 – Campbell tries to hit Kelly who is covered one-on-one on a sideline go route, but he is perfectly covered by Aqib Talib and Campbell makes a bad throw and leaves the ball to the inside of the field. Kelly makes a spectacular leaping effort to try to get over Talib, but Talib is able to box him out and make the pick.

Buccaneers fifth possession

1-10-W43 – Josh Johnson hits a WR on a skinny post, and instead of just making the easy tackle LaRon Landry goes for the Sean Taylor highlight hit, but whiffs and allows 7 more yards. My friend Max, who I was watching the game with, pointed out that no one really expects LaRon Landry to be Sean Taylor except for Landry himself.

Redskins sixth possession

Redskins start piecing together a decent drive based on power running plays and dumpoffs to RBs with room to run. Then…

2-10-T34 – Campbell steps up in a collapsing pocket, then tries to shoot the ball to Cooley over the middle. Instead he pegs a referee in the side of the head (hard!) and the ball bounces straight up into the air, and it is nearly intercepted by three different Buccaneers. At this point I couldn’t help but laugh and shake my head.

Buccaneers sixth possession

1-10-W37 – The Bucs choose to double Golston, so Haynesworth is left with a mere guard to handle and of course beats him soundly, hitting Josh Johnson and forcing an errant throw. Now I have talked up Kedric Golston a lot on this blog, and in my opinion deservedly so. But how do you double-team him instead of Haynesworth?

2-10-W37 – Orakpo and Chris Wilson are the ends, and both collapse the pocket. But Josh Johnson irritatingly escapes up the middle. London Fletcher has a bead on him three yards short of the first down but is taken out by an uncalled block from behind, so Johnson makes it all the way to the 21. This is the kind of QB that makes you want to break his legs.

2-6-W18 – Josh Johnson throws a ball directly at Carlos Rogers and it bounces off of his chest. Rogers is an excellent cover corner and I often defend him against unappreciative Redskins fans, but I cannot minimize his utter inability to catch a football. But if he was going to improve on this it would have happened by now.

3-6-W18 – Orakpo forces the LT to the outside, then when the LT overcompensates he beats him to the inside and sacks Johnson. We drafted a fully developed pass rusher. Now if we could just keep him out of pass coverage…

Bucs kick a short field goal in the closing seconds to take a 10-0 lead.

Second half review and wrap up thoughts to follow.