Tuesday, January 26, 2010

2009 Fullbacks Review

Mike Sellers started taking a lot of heat after his locker room confrontation with Clinton Portis made its way into the press. Suddenly, people started to come out of the woodwork to argue that Sellers was a terrible run blocker. My own opinion is that Sellers has been a very good blocker throughout his tenure with the Redskins, but has naturally declined with age (he’s 34 years old). Nonetheless, he has probably been somewhat overrated by Redskins fans. That made the viciousness with which the fans turned on him pretty startling.

I wrote a post defending him at one point, although you may note that a commenter took strong exception.

I will admit that as the year went on I started to come around and see more and more missed assignments and failed blocks. I honestly can’t tell you if his performance declined or if I started to notice his flaws more readily.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

2009 Running Backs Review

First a few thoughts on Clinton Portis. I don’t know at this point if he will be back next year, but I am not a part of the crowd trying to run him out of town. There is no doubt that he has a ton of miles on him and is in the decline phase of his career. But he is far from done, and can run very effectively when his offensive line isn’t collapsing in front of him. Whatever you may think about his attitude towards practice, on gamedays I don’t think there’s anyone out there who fights harder. If there’s a yard to be had, he will get it. He will not break a big play, but he won’t leave any yards on the field. You combine that tenacity with being probably the best (and hardest-hitting) pass blocking running back in football, and you have a guy who is an asset to the team.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Redskins offseason needs

These are just sort of off the top of my head, and are jotted down without an eye to who may be available in free agency or the draft. So all things being equal, this is how I'm thinking the Redskins should prioritize each position when it comes to allocating resources:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

If you're watching the Cardinals-Saints game...

You see that guy playing left tackle for Arizona? The guy who took over for an injured starter late in the regular season and is now in the playoffs performing creditably? At least looking like a competent enough guy that his presence on the football field does not doom your offense?

That would be Jeremy Bridges. The same Jeremy Bridges who the Redskins cut out of training camp so they could keep Mike Williams instead.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2009 Redskins Review: The Offensive Line

The performance of Redskins offensive tackles in 2009 was not only disappointing but simply unacceptable. Things were at their worst when Stephon Heyers had the left tackle job and Mike Williams was starting on the right.

Heyer simply lacks the physical strength to play at the NFL level. In my mind the defining play of Heyer’s season was in Week 7, when Eagles defensive tackle Broderick Bunkley was able to turn Heyer into a weapon and hurl him across the formation to wreck the right side of our line, leading directly to a deflected pass and an interception taken in for a touchdown. No amount of seasoning or technique can correct for a simple lack of physical ability. Heyer was consistently shoved off the corner on running plays, and lacked both the strength and nimbleness to protect against edge rushers.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Staying Medium's offseason plans

Here are my plans for the offseason, in no particular order:

- Obviously the 3rd and 4th quarters of the Chargers game still need to be review; they will be up in short order. First and 2nd quarters are already up.

- 2009 Position Reviews. First up will be offensive line. We'll do a fairly detailed evaluation of the unit's performance based primarily on the game reviews and speculate about who might be back next year and in what role. This will be done for every position group - so by my count that nine posts that will probably be spread out over some time (but they will definitely be up before free agency, in whatever form it takes, opens up).

- Offseason blueprints. I'll speculate on plans of action for the draft and free agency. The plans would vary dramatically based on whether or not the CBA and salary cap are maintained - that dictates who is available as a free agent (and who can leave the Redskins as a free agent) so we'll look at both scenarios. What actually happens will probably bear no resemblance to what I imagine, but it will be fun anyway.

- Getting to know Mike Shanahan. There's a fair amount written about the man and I intend to be doing some research and sharing whatever I can find out.

So I imagine posts would be rather long and extensive but spaced out a bit; probably an average of one a week or so. But this is my first offseason and I'm making this up as I go along, so there is room for trial and error here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Redskins @ Chargers, 2nd quarter review

1st quarter review is here.

2nd Quarter

San Diego Chargers continued.

1-10-WAS 19 (15:00) M.Bennett left tackle to WAS 15 for 4 yards (C.Griffin).

2-6-WAS 15 (14:29) M.Bennett right tackle to WAS 12 for 3 yards (A.Montgomery, R.McIntosh).

3-3-WAS 12 (13:43) (Shotgun) B.Volek pass short right to C.Davis to WAS 4 for 8 yards (K.Moore).

1-4-WAS 4 (13:04) M.Bennett up the middle to WAS 8 for -4 yards (R.McIntosh, H.Blades).

Kedric Golston stands up the LG, and the LT zeroes in on Fletcher so Rocky is able to shoot the gap. The TE is responsible for Carter and the FB has to deal with Orakpo so Blades also has a clear path to the backfield.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Redskins @ Chargers, 1st quarter review

Last game review of the year. Play by play is taken from the NFL Game Book, then I added my commentary in its own font.

1st Quarter

G.Gano kicks 72 yards from WAS 30 to SD -2. D.Sproles to SD 25 for 27 yards (H.Blades).

San Diego Chargers at 15:00, (1st play from scrimmage 14:56)

1-10-SD 25 (14:56) PENALTY on SD-B.Dombrowski, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at SD 25 - No Play.

1-15-SD 20 (14:56) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass short right to C.Davis to SD 29 for 9 yards (H.Blades).

The first of many screens. A wide receiver does a good job of boxing out DeAngelo Hall, and two linemen get outside and while they don’t land crushing blocks they create enough interference to mess up the defenders’ pursuit angles.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Shanahan is here

A few preliminary thoughts:

- Mike Shanahan is famously authoritarian. There will be no question who is in charge of this team, and I doubt anyone would dare trying to go over his head.

- Presumably Shanahan will implement a full-time zone blocking scheme, and that will obviously have implications for how the offensive line is rebuilt. I have been very critical of Casey Rabach in the game reviews because he simply lacks the strength and bulk to handle linemen. But now, mobility will be at a premium. Rabach is still very good and coming off initial blocks to slip to the second level and take out linebackers. In other words, the new scheme could hide his weakness and maximize his skills.

- The big question now, of course, is about the defense. The names Mike Zimmer, Jim Haslett, and our friend Jerry Gray have all popped up in the media. The good news is that poorly-regarded Bob Slowik, who some feared would be given the DC job, is apparently being looked at for a more junior role. It would appear we may not get an answer on this until Cincinnatti is out of the playoffs, so that Zimmer can have a chance to interview.

Some good links:

- Tandler affirms that the job titles given to Shanahan and Bruce Allen are not merely window dressing, and Dan Snyders really is out of the football decision-making business.

- Hogs Haven is thrilled to have Shanahan's son Kyle as offensive coordinator, and has some solid reasons to back it up.

- Curly R is cautiously optimisitic about the new management set-up. But he also remembers that Dan Snyder has supposedly made the decision to step aside before.

- Read this full article from the Washington Post. It is called, tellingly, "The Rise and Fall of Jim Zorn." I figure Zorn knew he was doomed as soon as he was disinvited from the weekly football discussion lunches with Snyder.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Well, that's that then

Well, that was a suitably painful way to end a nightmare season, but honestly 5-11 wouldn't have felt all that much better than 4-12.

I'm sure we will all wake up in the morning and check the news, and then keep hitting refresh on Redskins Insider until we see the announcement that Jim Zorn has officially been fired.

So do I have to change the name of my blog? Does Mike Shanahan have a comparable catch phrase I can co-opt?

And on the subject of Shanahan, there are more and more rumors that he has other options than the Redskins (namely Dallas, Houston, and Buffalo), so I can still cling to a faint but real hope that he will stiff us and Jerry Gray will be the new boss. But the smart money's still on Shanahan.

And yes, I will be doing a full game review for this one.

UPDATE: Looks like it's already done.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Redskins vs. Dallas, 4th quarter review

1st quarter review

2nd quarter review

3rd quarter review

4th Quarter

Washington Redskins continued.

2-8-WAS 49 (15:00) J.Campbell pass incomplete short right to F.Davis (B.James).

DeMarcus Ware comes untouched and blindsides Jason as he throws. The Cowboys blitzed both OLBs and the line fanned to the right to compensate, so it appears Levi was correct to ignore Ware and block the RDE. If so, that means he was Rock's responsibility, but Rock ignored him and went straight into a flat route.

Kafka-esque football

I rarely watch college football, but I found myself watching the Outback Bowl earlier today and was delighted to learn that Northwestern's quarterback was a guy named Kafka.

As such, I was hoping that the game would turn out to be some sort of metaphor for the futility of the human struggle in modernity.