Friday, November 11, 2011

Calling it quits

For now, at least. I could see myself getting the itch again after a hiatus, or doing an occasional post when there's something specific on my mind, but I think I need a break from the weekly analysis. It's hard enough to keep up with in the first place, and midway through my third season I'm honestly a little burned out on it. And the last thing I want to do is to disappoint you guys when I can't keep up with any sort of writing schedule.

I started this before training camp in 2009 thinking that I would probably experiment with it for a month or two, no one but my immediate circle of friends and family would read it, and then I would lose interest and move on. But then it sort of took on a life of its own. The fact that this thing actually got noticed, and that so many of you actually made it a point to read it regularly, is immensely gratifying. And of course it's been an enormous amount of fun.

I'll still be around. I'll certainly still be checking in on Twitter, as it has turned out a great way to keep engaged in the ongoing Redskins conversation. Like a sports bar but cheaper.

So... thanks for reading my ridiculous little football blog, folks.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Redskins underwhelming defensive line

The defensive line was a disaster in 2010 and improving it was a pretty clear offseason priority. The Redskins did not disappoint, signing two free agents (Stephen Bowen and Bary Cofield) and throwing in a second round pick (Jarvis Jenkins, who looked outstanding in preseason before tearing an ACL).

The line is better than last year, but unfortunately that's not saying much. I had some doubts about how the free agent additions would fit into this defense, and so far they are unfortunately looking rather accurate.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Redskins-49ers game review: Will Montgomery's tough day

After Kory Lichtensteiger went down for the year, Will Montgomery struggled so badly after sliding to left guard that he was moved right back to center. Unfortunately, his first day back in his old job was a rough one and he stood out on the screen as the most prominent weakness on the offensive line.

First quarter

1-10-WAS 36 (14:20) R.Helu left tackle to WAS 38 for 2 yards (I.Sopoaga, P.Haralson).

The DT keeps Montgomery from making solid contact and easily sheds him to fill the hole.

2-8-WAS 38 (13:43) R.Helu right guard to WAS 40 for 2 yards (D.Whitner; J.Smith).

Maurice Hurt at LG pulls and Montgomery does not compensate by picking up the RDT, who penetrates and redirects Helu in the backfield.

Redskins add Tyler Polumbus

So the Redskins signed fourth year offensive tackle Tyler Polumbus today. Unfortunately, this says more about the desperate state of the Redskins offensive line than it does about Polumbus.

What this move is: a signing of a warm body by a team whose offensive line has experienced mass casualties in recent weeks.

What this move is not: a meaningful part of some sort of long-term roster building program.

The good news:

- Observers seem to agree that his 2010 season with Seattle was somewhat less bad than his 2009 season with Denver. Granted, the Seahawks still cut him in the middle of this season after playing only three offensive snaps (in the opener) but these things are relative I guess.

- He has played both tackle spots and left guard in his career. Unfortunately he has played all three positions poorly, but there is something to be said for versatility in a backup.

- He was on the Broncos roster (as an undrafted free agent) under Mike Shanahan in 2008, so presumably Mike Shanahan has dug him up both times because he considers his skills to be a match to the offense.

The bad news:

- Bill Barnwell has repeatedly expressed an opinion that Polumbus was the worst starter in the NFL in 2009.

- Football Outsiders' offensive line analyst Ben Muth described Seattle QB's best chance for success this year to be Russell Okung's ability to stay healthy and keep Polumbus off the field.

- Pro Football Focus' grades (paywalled) also do not paint a pretty picture - he scored a -10.1 for 2010.

So the point is that this guy just isn't any good.

None of this means it was wrong for the Redskins to sign him. It's just that he's nothing more than the kind of guy who is unemployed in week 10 and available to a team who's line was weak to begin with and has suffered multiple injuries. 

With Jammal Brown still hurting, there is a good chance that Sean Locklear will have to start at right tackle this week. And there's not much behind him. Rookie Maurice Hurt took some snaps at tackle in the preseason, but even if he wasn't already needed at left guard (after Will Montgomery flamed out there) I wouldn't want to trust him on the outside. The only other option would be the ultra-green Willie Smith.

Trent Williams is already playing hurt, so there is an even greater chance than usual of having to put the third tackle on the field. Polumbus may be a poor player, but at least he has taken NFL snaps before.

There's some small chance that Polumbus could get into a game if Locklear performs poorly, but I doubt it. It is more likely he will make an appearance out of pure necessity. Let's hope we never see him.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I've seen enough of John Beck

After last week's total offensive failure I said that Beck deserves at least one more week. But he's had more than three games nowand he's not just struggling or making mistakes as the result of a learning curve; he's shown absolutely no ability to run a NFL offense. The argument before had been that we already knew Rex was a sub-par quarterback, and Beck at least offered hope as an unknown. He's not anymore.

After 3+ games, this is what we've learned about John Beck:

- He cannot progress through reads - if the first option isn't there he goes straight to the checkdown
- He's inaccurate
- He has a poor deep ball, on the rare occasions when he tries it
- His pocket presence is nonexistent, and this makes his "mobility" useless
- His decision making is painfully slow

The one thing Beck does well is that if his first read is open right as he hits the top of his drop (or as he comes out of his bootleg), he can hit the throw with good timing. That's it, and it's something that any professional quarterback should be able to do.

I am the sort who can be happy with a boring, game manager quarterback, especially given where this team is in it's development. If the offense was simply less than dynamic I could accept that to avoid Rex Grossman's turnovers. And if that means checking down a lot, I could certainly live with it. But this is out of hand.

We all know Rex's weaknesses, and I doubt anyone thinks he would set the world on fire. We can expect at least one or two dumb turnovers per game, and there will always be the possibility of a total meltdown like the one that got him benched against the Eagles. But he will at least give the offense a realistic chance of moving the ball downfield in a meaningful fashion. To resort to cliche, its pretty clear which quarterback gives the Redskins "the best chance to win."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Redskins-Bills game review: A failed running game

After studying how the offensive line and John Beck managed to completely tank in the passing game against Buffalo, it's now time to look at how the Redskins got held to a total of 26 rushing yards.

Yes, blockers did lose their share of battles at the point of attack. But a far bigger problem was guys simply not knowing their assignments on a given play and leaving Bills defenders unblocked. To a degree I suppose that is inevitable with a bunch of guys new to the field or (in the case of Will Montgomery) moving to new positions. But it was clear that Redskins blockers regularly had no idea who they were supposed to be blocking.

Let's look at some examples:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Redskins-Bills game review: Beck under pressure

Hi everyone. As discussed yesterday I'm experimenting with using the tape review to zero in on certain aspects of the game - in this case John Beck getting sacked like it's his job - rather than a straight chronological play by play breakdown.

My reaction while watching the game live was that most of the (now ten) sacks were on John Beck. Even when linemen get beat the quarterback is expected to have an ability to react to pressure and either make plays or at least avoid sacks.

Below are a selection of plays including not only the sacks but also a number of occasions where Beck was hit or pressured. As you will see the responsibility varies - Beck showed simply horrendous pocket presence, but when his blockers weren't busy losing physical matchups they were miscommunicating and blowing assignments. It was quite a mess so... enjoy.

First Quarter

3-3-WAS 27 (13:53) J.Beck pass incomplete deep right to T.Austin [A.Moats]. Thrown behind receiver along sideline at WAS 45.

Montgomery fails to adjust to a tackle-end stunt and allows the inside penetration. Beck takes a seven step drop and is already starting his throwing motion when the DE bursts free, so this one definitely goes on the O-line.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A new approach to game reviews (maybe)

If you're looking for the first quarter or two of the Bills game review, I'm trying a slightly different tack this week to see how it goes.  Basically instead of going through one quarter at a time, I'm considering picking a few themes each week and then highlighting a selection of plays that illustrate it.

Here's what I have in mind this week and we'll see how it goes:

- One post detailing all nine of John Beck's sacks and several more plays on which he was hit or hurried in order to discuss how both the line and Beck himself contributed to the problems.

- Another post on the failure of the run game, with a selection of, I don't know, eight to ten plays or so with which we can pick on linemen for blowing blocks.

- A third post focusing on the defense's failure to stop the run.

- There may or may not be yet another post with miscellaneous observations from the film that I think are worth mentioning but don't really fit into any of the above areas of focus.

Good old indicates that there is a hard core of a few dozen of you who regularly read all four quarters of each game review (which is greatly appreciated) while other readers drop in when something with a more straightforward "message" is available. So my intentions here are two-fold. First is to be able to post something that has a certain completeness earlier in the week, that will leave those without the patience for wading through all four quarter breakdowns with a "takeaway." The second is to have a better option for those weeks where I don't have time to do each quarter in full. Since each individual post will stand alone better, if I only have time for one or two it will still give people something coherent.

I certainly don't want to shortchange those of you who really like to dive into the weeds, so my intention is to still go into a lot of very detailed play breakdowns.  We'll try it this week - the first post won't be til Wednesday night since it took me awhile to think through how I wanted to approach things - and I absolutely want your feedback. If you hate it, by all means let me know. This could turn out to be a one week experiment before we go back old routine, or we could find a way to make the blog a little more readable without sacrificing the more detailed analysis. Let's see how it goes.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Well, that was ugly

Losing to the Eagles was manageable. They were a talented but under-performing team that matched up well with the Redskins weaknesses. It happens.

Losing to Carolina was a bit tougher as the Redskins played poorly in every phase of the game and were generally manhandled, but much of the damage was done Cam Newton and Steve Smith, and there's no shame in getting beat by those two guys. It was distressing that so many other phases of the team failed as well, but it's the kind of speed bump that mediocre teams like the Redskins experience during the course of a season.

But this shut out loss to Buffalo... well this is pretty hard to take. Buffalo is playing well this year so losing to them isn't a shocker. But I was absolutely not anticipating a total collapse like what we saw today. And as troubled as I am by the poor defensive showing, John Beck looked much worse than even the most Beck-skeptical could have expected.

There's simply no excuse for giving up nine sacks to a defense that Football Outsiders had ranked 20th in DVOA coming into the week. The offensive line did not play well.  However - and I reserve the right to change my mind on this after reviewing the tape - I think most of those sacks go on John Beck. In many of the cases where the protection broke down it did so slowly, and Beck showed absolutely no awareness of when it was necessary to either get the ball out or escape the pocket. Mobility doesn't help you if you lack the pocket presence to know when and how to use it.

It seems that Beck can be a good rhythm passer when his first read is open. When the scheme works just right Beck is coming out of his bootleg right as the receiver makes his break to get open, and Beck hits him. But when he has to move beyond that first read, everything about Beck's game seems to slow to a crawl. And today it's clear none of the receivers were getting open. Whether the blame for that lies with Kyle Shanahan or the receivers themselves is an open question.

I suppose a little perspective is in order. John Beck has now played only nine quarters of regular season football since 2007. He's almost like a rookie, and there's certainly a chance (though not a certainty) he could improve with time. For that reason, I disagree with the people who want to see Rex Grossman back in the starting job already. Beck at least deserves another week or two, if only so we can know for certain that he is not an option moving forward. But his performance today was indefensibly awful.

As for the nonexistent running game, it appeared that linemen were regularly just getting plain old beat at the point of attack and letting plays collapse. There were some times when I felt Torain was having his habitual failures of vision and creating losses, but the true post mortem on the run game will have to wait until I can dive into the Tivo.

Just as a reminder of what is in store, the Redskins face the 49ers - 3rd in DVOA - next week.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Redskins-Panthers 4th quarter game review

1st quarter review
2nd quarter
3rd quarter

Fourth Quarter

1-10-CAR 46 (15:00) C.Newton pass short right to J.Shockey to WAS 46 for 8 yards (L.Landry).

For all his rookie accomplishments we are sometimes reminded that Ryan Kerrigan is raw and still learning to be a linebacker. The bootleg is to his side and he’s way too slow to recognize the significance of the tight end releasing his block on him, and lets the guy get wide open in the flat.

2-2-WAS 46 (14:23) D.Williams right guard to WAS 43 for 3 yards (S.Bowen).           

Golston and Nield each get pushed back buy double teams; Bowen penetrates from the backside but not quickly enough to prevent a first down.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Redskins-Panthers 3rd quarter game review

It's funny to me how some quarters provide so much to talk about and analyze and some are total clunkers. That doesn't mean that what happens in those "bad" quarters isn't significant in terms of the outcome of the game, just that they leave me with little describe, analyze, or otherwise expound upon in these game review. The 2nd quarter was one of those dull reviews where I just couldn't find much interesting to add. Those are just as boring to work on as they are to read. Fortunately these things tend to even out, and the third quarter was much more engaging for me to write, and hopefully makes for more entertaining reading as well.

1st quarter review
2nd quarter

Third Quarter

O.Mare kicks 65 yards from CAR 35 to end zone, Touchback.

Washington Redskins at 15:00

1-10-WAS 20 (15:00) J.Beck pass deep middle to J.Gaffney to CAR 48 for 32 yards (C.Godfrey).           

Perfect play action. The LBs bite which means the Mike doesn’t get downfield to take the underneath coverage on Gaffney’s route into the seam.

1-10-CAR 48 (14:20) T.Hightower right tackle to CAR 42 for 6 yards (D.Connor).

Paulsen fights through play side safety (who is then taken out by Young) then drives the LB to the outside, allowing Hightower to cut upfield.

2-4-CAR 42 (13:43) R.Torain left guard to CAR 40 for 2 yards (D.Connor).

Montgomery gets to the second level but completely whiffs and the Mike backer is free to make the stop.

3-2-CAR 40 (13:00) (Shotgun) J.Beck pass incomplete short right to T.Austin (C.Gamble).

The slot corner pretty clearly pulled on Austin’s jersey to keep him from getting into the slant on time, but no flag.

4-2-CAR 40 (12:56) (Shotgun) J.Beck sacked at CAR 47 for -7 yards (J.Anderson).

Beat by the blitz. There are blitzers coming through both A gaps. Helu picks up one correctly but his cut block in ineffective and only slows the guy slightly. The other comes clean because Cook is frozen by the DT who is head up on him… but drops into coverage.

Carolina Panthers at 12:52

1-10-CAR 47 (12:52) (Shotgun) C.Newton pass deep left to B.LaFell pushed ob at WAS 16 for 37 yards (K.Barnes).           

Doughty and Rocky are blitzing from the defensive left, so on the right Orakpo starts out on the line but just before the snap slides over to the slot receiver.  Wilson is on the X receiver with Barnes deep as a safety. It’s unlikely that he play was designed such that Orakpo would be responsible for the slot receiver deep downfield. So Orakpo tracks him into the flat but then passes him off. But Barnes is momentarily frozen when the X receiver threatens the seam, even though Wilson follows that route.  It’s at least conveicable that Wilson should have stayed outside and passed off the post to Barnes, but it looks more likely that Barnes messed up by not going straight to the sideline.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Redskins-Panthers 2nd quarter review

First quarter review is here.

Second Quarter

2-2-CAR 24 (15:00) T.Hightower right end to CAR 24 for no gain (D.Connor; G.Hardy).

The LDT gets under Cook’s pads (not that hard to do) on the zone run and easily slides down the line to fill the hole.

3-2-CAR 24 (14:27) T.Hightower left tackle to CAR 21 for 3 yards (D.Connor, A.Applewhite).

1-10-CAR 21 (13:48) J.Beck scrambles right end to CAR 14 for 7 yards (S.Martin).

After running a route into the flat Darrel Young turns back and takes out not one but two defenders to allow Beck to turn the corner on his scramble.

2-3-CAR 14  (13:15) T.Hightower left guard to CAR 13 for 1 yard (D.Connor).

A hole opens between Chester and Cook, but no one is available to get a hat on the MLB.

3-2-CAR 13 (12:32) (Shotgun) J.Beck pass incomplete short left to J.Gaffney (T.Williams).

Beck stares down Gaffney so the LB reads his eyes and jumps underneath the slant.

4-2-CAR 13 (12:28) G.Gano 31 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-N.Sundberg, Holder-S.Rocca.

WAS 3 CAR 3, 12 plays, 74 yards, 2 penalties, 6:04 drive, 2:36 elapsed

G.Gano kicks 69 yards from WAS 35 to CAR -4. K.Pilares to CAR 11 for 15 yards (L.Alexander).
PENALTY on CAR-T.Williams, Offensive Holding, 5 yards, enforced at CAR 11.

Carolina Panthers at 12:24

1-10-CAR 6 (12:24) J.Stewart up the middle to CAR 13 for 7 yards (L.Fletcher).

Rocky redirects the play inside by blowing up the lead FB, but Nield gets pushed off the line by a double team and the RG is able to get a hat on Fletcher.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Redskins-Panthers 1st quarter game review

Hi kids. Time to re-live and thus internalize a rather dramatic loss. As always the play by play is taken from the NFL Gamebook.

First Quarter

G.Gano kicks 65 yards from WAS 35 to end zone, Touchback.

One – and only one – of the Panthers cover guys, while all his comrades are dropping back into blocking position, sprints straight forward and launches himself at a Redskins who I think is Niles Paul but can’t be sure. It’s not the last time we will see that, and I’m not sure what to make of it.

Carolina Panthers at 15:00

1-10-CAR 20 (15:00) D.Williams left guard to CAR 21 for 1 yard (B.Orakpo).

Bowen is successfully sealed inside, but Rocky stops the pulling guard cold to allow Fletcher to close for the stop, while Orakpo joins him after nicely shedding the FB’s block.

2-9-CAR 21 (14:22) (Shotgun) C.Newton pass incomplete short left to S.Smith.

Cam throws off his back foot with Bowen and Carriker (Maybe Golston? Not a great view but can see the “4”) pinching the pocket and he sails it high.

3-9-CAR 21 (14:18) (Shotgun) C.Newton scrambles right end to CAR 46 for 25 yards (R.Doughty).           

Bowen rushes to the inside through the offensive left B gap, and despite the fact that his rush is meant to be diversionary to open a path for Barnes off the edge (who is picked up by the RB) he is the only one to really penetrate. The scramble that follows leaves little to analyze because it is simply Cam Newton being an amazing athlete.  If you want to nitpick I suppose you could criticize Barnes, DeAngelo Hall, and Fletcher for badly missing open field tackles, but then it was Cam Newton they were trying to tackle so I’m not inclined to be that hard on them. Landry, by the way, got absolutely leveled by a blind side block.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Redskins suffer a bad loss to Carolina

This is a bad one. Not just because it was to a (generally) weaker opponent, but because I would be really surprised to see the Redskins beat either Buffalo or San Francisco, so even though we're only at .500 this feels like being in a hole already.

In the second half Beck at least showed he can move the team down the field a bit. I think he gets a pass on the first half since, other than a drive or two last week, it was his first regular season football since 2007. If you recall what I wrote before the season, this sort of chain-moving but unexciting offense was what I expected from the Redskins this year. That's simply the roster's current state of development, and it's better than last year. But it doesn't let you mount fourth quarter comebacks. When the defense gets blown away, this offense can't be expected to keep up.

And man, did the defense ever  get blown away. I know you're probably expecting one of my anti-Jim Haslett rants here, but at least on the first viewing it just looked like simple failure of execution. None of the front seven could get off blocks, and I hope to have some idea of why once I start the review.

And don't blame the corners for getting lit up by Steve Smith. Smith and Cam Newton were executing some excellent plays, and the rules of the game are such that if the quarterback is not pressured no corner can cover a good receiver for very long. As for why there was such little pressure... I wish I knew. Hopefully the trusty Tivo will provide me with more insight on that.

I'll leave you with this outstanding video, because it always cheers me up in this sort of situation.

A new look for the Redskins running game?

Something interesting is happening with the Redskins running game.

We all know that Mike and Kyle Shanahan are strong devotees of zone blocking and have worked to build the offensive line with the sort of athletic, though not necessarily overpowering, players that can excel in that system.

Pure zone blocking schemes have a pretty unique look, and part of the beauty of the system is that you see mostly the same runs (primarily inside zone and outside zone, well explained here) without all that much variation. That's why it really jumps off the screen when a supposedly pure zone team like the Redskins starts showing you characteristics of traditional power blocking.

But in the opening game, as the Redskins were trying to run out the clock to clinch a win against New York, the Redskins ran five consecutive plays that seemed to come out of a good old-fashioned power blocking playbook. The most conspicuous characteristic were repeated pull blocks from Chris Chester - the pulling guard just isn't really a characteristic of a zone run.

It happened again in St. Louis - some power runs were sprinkled throughout, and the final three plays before the Redskins went to victory formation were all power runs.

What puzzled me about this trend was that if the plays were considered effective, then they should be used more often. And if not, why use them at all?

I think the Eagles game solved that mystery. In the first half we got to see Chester pull a couple times, interspersed with the usual inside zone/outside zone fare. But in the third quarter, the zone runs disappeared for all but one play. The line was doing standard seal blocks, and blockers were trying to move guys off the point of attack and pulling guards were being sent through the holes. These power runs are excerpted below for your reading pleasure (due to time constraints I never got to review the fourth quarter).

The results were mixed, and yet I love this development on principle. The Shanahans have long been committed to the zone run system, so I'm sure it's not a permanent scheme change. But the fact is that teams with an athletic front seven and some good game planning can often blow up zone blocking. And you can usually see early in the game if the zone game will work. If it's struggling in the first quarter, that's not likely to change as the game goes on. So the Shanahans have taken the sensible precaution of having a backup plan in place. If it's clear a team knows how to beat the zone, the Redskins can switch gears and try a different approach. I am always in favor of coaches having enough flexibility to adjust their scheme based on what will work against a given opponent.

The Panthers are a weak run defense. Zone blocking usually dominates a weak front seven. I would expect that against Carolina and other poor defenses we should see mostly the zone runs, as zone blocking often lets even a mediocre line dominate weak competition. Against tougher competition that has been getting penetration and blowing up the zone, the Shanahans will will seal an end and send a guard pulling around the edge and see if they can't create a hole and then let Torain, Hightower, or Helu break some tackles.

I will admit I have a totally selfish reason for welcoming this development. Zone running is often successful football, but it is boring both to watch and to describe for you guys. In the zone you're not really trying to blow a guy off the line, but to control him enough so that the back has multiple cutback lanes. That's fine, but it doesn't give me much to talk about in the game reviews. With good old-fashioned power blocking, however, there are a number of discrete acts designed to create on particular hole. Collisions happen, and either the blocker or the defender wins each. There's a lot for even an amateur like myself to analyze and describe.

As promised, here's some power running highlights from the 3rd quarter:

1-10-PHI 15 (14:09) R.Torain left tackle to PHI 9 for 6 yards (B.Rolle).

Well, the run game is certainly evolving. Darrel Young is offset to the left, he rushes up and takes on the RDE, which allows Paulsen and Locklear to get straight to the second level and take out the MLB and WLB. Chris Chester then pulls again and puts a hat on the SLB.

2-4-PHI 9 (13:28) R.Torain left tackle to PHI 8 for 1 yard (M.Patterson).

Still more traditional blocking concepts. This is getting really interesting.  Locklear kicks out the RDE while Montgomery and Cook get push the RDT off the line and set up second level blocks, but Jammal Brown is unable to prevent the backside penetration from the LDT. 
2-10-WAS 32 (10:32) (Shotgun) R.Torain right tackle to WAS 35 for 3 yards (B.Rolle, D.Landri).

OK, are the Redskins even a zone running team any more? Very curious what is going on here. Brown seals the RDT inside, Davis kicks out the LDE, and Montgomery pulls through the hole. But the hole collapses after only a modest gain because neither Mongtomery nor Davis hold there blocks any more.
1-10-PHI 18 (7:15) R.Torain up the middle to PHI 20 for -2 yards (D.Tapp).

Even when it doesn’t work, the new approach to the running game is at least interesting to watch.  Paulsen and Mongtomery turn the RDE and RDT to the outside, while Chester jumps outside and tries to seal out the LDE. Meanwhile Young, offset to the left, crosses the backfield to take out the LDT who is initially unblocked because he is initially unblocked to let Cook and Brown, along with Locklear, go straight to the second level. Unfortunately Locklear never locks onto his LB and Montgomery can’t keep his man to the outside, so the hole collapses on Torain.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Redskins-Eagles 3rd quarter game review

And we're back. I'm wishing I hadn't gotten to the 3rd quarter so late in the week, as there's a lot here that's interesting - specifically a startlingly new look to the Redskins running game and some examples of aggressive blitzes from Jim Haslett that actually make some sense.

Here are links to the 1st quarter and 2nd quarter reviews.

Third Quarter

A.Henery kicks 72 yards from PHI 35 to WAS -7. B.Banks pushed ob at WAS 40 for 47 yards (A.Henery).

And here we get back to the good Brandon Banks. There’s no wasted motion, he presses the ball downfield while letting his blocks set up, then turns on the jets at just the right instant to evade a defender who had an angle on him. It was a key block from Kedric Golston that turned this from a good return into a great one.

Washington Redskins at 15:00, (1st play from scrimmage 14:55)

1-10-WAS 40 (14:55) R.Grossman pass deep middle to J.Gaffney to PHI 15 for 45 yards (A.Samuel). FLea flicker from #29 Helu           

I’m not a big fan of the flea flicker in general, though of course it worked here. The corner is playing outside leverage against Gaffney’s post and has no inside help since the safety is frozen by the initial fake. But when you see how close the DT was to Helu as he pitched it back to Rex you are reminded how dangerous this play can be. It relies on a bunch of guys holding their blocks for a long, long time.

1-10-PHI 15 (14:09) R.Torain left tackle to PHI 9 for 6 yards (B.Rolle).

Well, the run game is certainly evolving. Darrel Young is offset to the left, he rushes up and takes on the RDE, which allows Paulsen and Locklear to get straight to the second level and take out the MLB and WLB. Chris Chester then pulls again and puts a hat on the SLB.

2-4-PHI 9 (13:28) R.Torain left tackle to PHI 8 for 1 yard (M.Patterson).

Still more traditional blocking concepts. This is getting really interesting.  Locklear kicks out the RDE while Montgomery and Cook get push the RDT off the line and set up second level blocks, but Jammal Brown is unable to prevent the backside penetration from the LDT.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Redskins-Eagles 2nd quarter game review

First quarter review is here.

Second Quarter

2-1-WAS 1 (15:00) M.Vick up the middle to WAS 1 for no gain (L.Fletcher; C.Neild). QB sneak

As enjoyable as Fletcher’s leap over the line was, it’s the interior defensive linemen dominating the middle that really win this play. Unfortunately we don’t get a good camera angle to pick out individual efforts.

3-1-WAS 1 (14:19) T.Herremans reported in as eligible. L.McCoy left end for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN.           

Carriker drives the LG into the backfield, but with Atogwe losing a backfield collision with the fullback and  Landry getting driven off the corner by the TE McCoy never needs to cut back.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Redskins-Eagles 1st quarter game review

[Ed. - sorry for the slow pace this week. I have the 2nd quarter mostly done but will have to finish it up tomorrow.]

First Quarter

G.Gano kicks 73 yards from WAS 35 to PHI -8. D.Lewis, Touchback.

Philadelphia Eagles at 15:00

1-10-PHI 20 (15:00) M.Vick pass incomplete deep left to D.Jackson.

The Eagles try to start a second consecutive game with a deep touchdown to Jackson, but Atogwe is kept very, very deep – probably in anticipation of this. Wilson is manned up on Jackson and blankets him, but its unnecessary because there is clearly a route miscommunication and Vick sails the ball straight downfield while Jackson runs a corner route.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Reacting to the loss to the Eagles

[Update: Just FYI looks like it will be tomorrow night before I can finish the 1st quarter review.]

Losses hurt, and divisional losses hurt more. But given that most of us expected the Redskins to lose between eight and ten games this year, I am befuddled why many among the fanbase are reacting as if this one loss to a tough opponent is particularly disastrous or disappointing.
We already knew Rex tends to throw dumb interceptions. This is the sort of game we were all expecting when he was named as the starter. It was an absolute train wreck of a game, but when you have a QB who throws dumb interceptions you’ll have the occasional week where he throws four of them.  And I think most of us assumed that we would be seeing John Beck at some point. This is what we signed on for.
We already knew that the Eagles have very good cornerbacks who can neutralize most wide receivers.
We already knew that the Eagles’ receivers are capable of beating the Redskins cornerbacks in man coverage. This is because the Eagles’ receivers are really good and can beat pretty much any corners one on one.
We already knew that the Redskins line is improved enough that it can create cutback lanes against bad defenses, but still sufficiently mediocre that it can be shut down by talented opponents with a good game plan. Hopefully the game review (which I will begin right after I post this) will provide more insight on the run game’s failure.
Nothing about this loss should be remotely surprising. Everyone agrees the Redskins are a flawed team, and they played an opponent who had struggled to this point but is stocked with talent that matches up well against the Redskins.
Here are the valid real reasons to be concerned about this loss.
- I am legitimately distraught over having to rebuild the left side of the offensive line.
-   As I wrote yesterday the Redskins next three games will be challenging, and we should expect a couple of losses. I badly wanted a win against Philadelphia to build some cushion in the standings.
-          Jim Haslett, once again, called a terrible game that set up his secondary for failure against very talented wide receivers. But at least he got to further add to his Aggressive All-Out Blitzer persona which is evidently more important than crafting a sensible approach to beating the opposition.
End result – the Redskins are 3-2 and both losses came against opponents that match up well against the Redskins’ weaknesses. Sorry, but I can’t get too worked up over this one. It’s football and sometimes the other team just beats you. It's just another loss, and there will be more this year.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Redskins enter a dangerous stretch

This upcoming game worries me. The Eagles' season has been a disaster to date and it may continue to be one, but the matchups are worrisome.

 The much-maligned wide-9 obviously gives you opportunities to run up the middle, all the more so when it is played poorly. If the Redskins can get to the second level the Eagles’ mediocre blockers should be neutralized. What worries me is that the Eagles have been struggling primarily due to failures in scheme. The talent is still there (although Trent Cole not playing is a huge bonus for the Redskins). The beauty of football is that talent doesn't trump game planning and team work. But talent still gets the benefit of the doubt. The Eagles know they are in desperate circumstances and are probably inclined to start tinkering with play calling and game planning. Let's hope they don't get it right this week and suddenly all those good players start producing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Redskins-Rams 4th quarter game review

And here is your very late 4th quarter game review. Thanks, bye week, for bailing me out.

Here's the previous quarters:

Fourth Quarter        

3-8-SL 33 (15:00) (Shotgun) R.Grossman pass short left to J.Gaffney to SL 25 for 8 yards (A.Harris; Q.Mikell).           

Gaffney sells the go route hard so that when it turns into a hitch just short of sticks the CB on him hits the ground trying to adjust and Gaff gets an easy first down.

1-10-SL 25 (14:18) R.Torain right tackle to SL 25 for no gain (R.Quinn). FUMBLES (R.Quinn), and recovers at SL 23. R.Torain to SL 23 for no gain (J.Bannan).

Torain is late and slow on his cut, which allows the DT on Lichtensteiger to play him in the gap and knock the ball out.

2-8-SL 23 (13:35) R.Torain up the middle to SL 26 for -3 yards (Q.Mikell).

The LDE gets under Jammal Brown’s pads and drives into the backfield like he isn’t there.

3-11-SL 26 (12:45) (Shotgun) R.Grossman pass short left INTERCEPTED by J.King at SL 18. J.King pushed ob at WAS 31 for 51 yards (T.Hightower).

The protection works. Two DBs come through the right B gap. Hightower does what he’s supposed to do and blockes the inside guy, leaving Rex responsible for adjusting to the fact that the outside blitzer cannot be blocked. He does so. He knows he has to get out immediately, so he looks straight to Santana. The route combo works. The slot corner is playing 9 yards off the line and Davis runs the LB out of the short zone, so Santana comes wide open on the short crossing route. He seems to slip a bit coming out of the break, but regardless the pass hits him right in the hands and bounces to aDB. Rex recognized the blitz, made the appropriate adjustment, and threw an accurate ball to the right receiver – none of this is remotely his fault. Serious hustle from Hightower to save a touchdown.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Redskins-Rams 3rd quarter game review

Click here for the 1st quarter review, and here for the 2nd quarter.

Third Quarter

Josh.Brown kicks 67 yards from SL 35 to WAS -2. B.Banks to WAS 18 for 20 yards (E.Sims).

Washington Redskins at 15:00, (1st play from scrimmage 14:56)

1-10-WAS 18 (14:56) R.Torain left tackle pushed ob at WAS 20 for 2 yards (J.Hall).

Lichtensteiger is pushed into the backfield and knocks into Torain.

2-8-WAS 20 (14:23) R.Torain right tackle to WAS 27 for 7 yards (D.Stewart).

I have no idea what happened on this play because Fox is simply terrible at telecasting football games.

3-1-WAS 27 (13:48) R.Helu left end to WAS 34 for 7 yards (J.Hall).           

The line blocks hard to the right and takes the front seven with them, Helu then takes a pitch to the left and easily gains the first down due to Niles Paul’s excellent block from the slot position.

1-10-WAS 34 (13:12) R.Torain right tackle to SL 27 for 39 yards (Q.Mikell).

Not to take anything way from Torain, who did a fine job running here, but this is textbook zone blocking.  Davis and Brown attack the LDE and Chester and Montgomery the LDT. Then Montgomery and Brown each shed off the combo blocks and go straight to linebackers, while Davis and Chester control the defenders enough that they can’t fill the gaps. Torain times his cut just right and bursts through the hole fast enough that the closing safety takes a terrible angle and misses the tackle, releasing Torain deep into the secondary. Beautiful all around.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Redskins-Rams 2nd quarter review

First quarter review is here.

Second Quarter        

3-7-WAS 40 (15:00) (Shotgun) S.Bradford pass incomplete deep left to M.Sims-Walker.

Redskins get a little lucky here. Barnes assumes responsibility for the deep coverage on the go route but is slightly late getting over and Bradford places the ball well.
4-7-WAS 40 (14:55) D.Jones punts 30 yards to WAS 10, Center-J.McQuaide, downed by SL.

Washington Redskins at 14:46

1-10-WAS 10 (14:46) R.Grossman pass incomplete short middle to F.Davis (J.Bannan).

This is one of those terrifying Rex throws. Lichtensteiger goes to the ground but leaves his DT standing. For reason unknown Rex, while sliding to the right with the moving pocket, tries to force it over the middle to Davis on the slant, and the DT is in the passing lane and easily knocks it in the air.

2-10-WAS 10 (14:42) R.Helu right tackle to WAS 15 for 5 yards (D.Stewart).

This run really showcases Roy Helu’s outstanding vision. This being an inside zone to the right, Helu initially aims at Chris Chester’s right hip. Williams and Montgomery both go straight to the second level, but both block the LB. That leaves an unblocked safety in the right B gap. Helu cuts hard and slips through the gap to Chester’s left.

3-5-WAS 15 (14:00) (Shotgun) R.Grossman pass incomplete short left to F.Davis (D.Stewart).

Helu picks up the (obviously) blitzing MLB, but Jammal Brown is easily beaten around the edge by the LDE. But Rex is staring down Davis from the beginning because his route is aimed at the sticks, so he has time to get it out but is denied by blanket coverage.

4-5-WAS 15 (13:55) S.Rocca punts 56 yards to SL 29, Center-N.Sundberg, downed by WAS.

One of the few weak punts we’ve seen from Rocca this year, and it still worked out. It carries for 3.9 seconds and 37 yards, but the returner is playing very, very deep and lets it drop, whereup on rolls for an additional 19 yards. That’s a benefit of a strong punter I hadn’t thought of – because returners have to respect his leg they are not in a position to take advantage of the few short punts that do occur.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Redskins-Rams 1st quarter game review

Here we go getting started on win number 3. As I mentioned yesterday I only got to catch the last quarter of this game on Sunday, so I really am seeing most of this fresh. As usual they play by play is taken from the NFL Gamebook.

First Quarter

G.Gano kicks 72 yards from WAS 35 to SL -7. Q.Porter, Touchback.

St. Louis Rams at 15:00

1-10-SL 20 (15:00) S.Jackson left guard to SL 20 for no gain (R.Kerrigan).

Kerrigan engages the TE, then gets his left arm to the inside and powers through the line to stuff the runner.

2-10-SL 20  (14:31) (Shotgun) S.Jackson left tackle to SL 33 for 13 yards (L.Landry).           

Well blocked by the Rams against the Redskins four man nickel front. Orakpo is initially unblocked, but a TE crosses the backfield and takes him out. Bowen reacts to Jackson’s initial step to the offensive right and pursues, allowing the LT to keep him inside. The LT gets a free release on Rocky and Landry is line up in the box on the backside, so he can’t make it across the field on time and instead has to chase the guy down from behind.

1-10-SL 33 (13:53) S.Jackson left tackle to SL 33 for no gain (B.Orakpo).

The LT and LG take Bowen way, way off the line. Fortunately Orakpo eneages the TE, wins the fight, and plays the inside gap to stuff the run.

2-10-SL 33 (13:18) S.Jackson left guard to SL 36 for 3 yards (D.Hall).

The center engages Cofield, then the TE joins in and blows him off the line. DeAngelo Hall appears to have been lined up in the slot (the telecast cuts off the formations and the start of the play) and he reads run quickly and reacts, which means that when the RG gets to the second level he is faced with two defenders. He chooses Fletcher, but blocks him ineffectually, so Fletcher and Hall first deny the RB his cutback and then pull him down.

Monday, October 3, 2011

An update

Don't worry, I'm still here. Due to special circumstances the free time simply did not exist last week to review any more than two quarters of the Dallas game.  The Rams game will be fully broken down, but I just got back from a trip and am pretty wiped out so I will probably finish up the first quarter tomorrow and then we will be back on a regular schedule.

I was unable to watch the first three quarters of Sunday's game (long story) so I really will be seeing this for the first time, but I gather it was a pretty ugly win. I'm looking forward to seeing what exactly went on as the mood seems to be decidedly sour about this 3-1, first place team.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Redskins-Dallas 3rd quarter game review

Hi there. As mentioned the schedule this week severely interferes with timely game review completion, so I after doing the 1st quarter on Tuesday I have skipped the 2nd quarter altogether and we're going straight to the 3rd. 

Third Quarter

G.Gano kicks 72 yards from WAS 35 to DAL -7. D.Harris, Touchback.

Dallas Cowboys at 15:00

1-10-DAL 20 (15:00) T.Romo sacked at DAL 12 for -8 yards (R.Kerrigan). FUMBLES (R.Kerrigan), and recovers at DAL 15. T.Romo to DAL 15 for no gain (A.Carriker).

Kerrigan is only blocked by the FB and is taken far enough upfield that Romo can step up, but with impressive alertness he manages to swipe with his right arm – which is hooked under the FB’s arm – and knock the ball out of Romo’s hands.

2-15-DAL 15 (14:13) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short middle to F.Jones to DAL 22 for 7 yards (L.Fletcher; R.Doughty). Pass complete slant.

3-8-DAL 22 (13:28) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short left to D.Bryant pushed ob at DAL 42 for 20 yards (D.Hall). Pass complete on a sideline "curl."

Barnes (over the slot receiver) and Fletcher blitz from the offensive right. Kerrigan tries to rush inside to open the B gap for Fletcher. But he doesn’t drive the center hard enough, so as the RG doubles him – as the blitz was designed to make him do – Fletcher runs into his back.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Redskins-Dallas 1st quarter game review

First, a service announcement. We're getting a late start because of a Monday night game, and I happen to know my schedule this week will not allow me to complete all four quarters in a timely fashion. A shortcut will need to be taken somewhere; I haven't decided yet whether to skip a quarter entirely, or do abbreviated versions of two quarters, or something. I'll figure it out later.

Also, this is only the first quarter but if you wondering what I thought of Jim Haslett's double safety blitz there will of course be more on it when I break down the fourth quarter. Until then, I wrote about it last night in case you haven't seen it yet (hint: I consider it so indefensibly irresponsible that it should put Haslett's job security at risk).

Anyway, let's dive into the first quarter. As always, the raw play by play info is taken from the NFL Game Book. You may notice that this play by play contains more detail than most, that is because Dallas seems to have an overly enthusiastic scorer - the unique game books jump out at me every year with the Dallas game.

Have at it:

First Quarter

D.Bailey kicks 58 yards from DAL 35 to WAS 7. B.Banks to WAS 30 for 23 yards (D.Bailey). Return left side of the field.

Washington Redskins at 15:00, (1st play from scrimmage 14:55)

1-10-WAS 30 (14:55) T.Hightower up the middle to WAS 30 for no gain (J.Hatcher).

If Hightower hadn’t slipped here (first of many) there could have been a good gain. He had a wide cut back lane to the left as a result of strong blocks by Trent Williams and Kory Lichtensteiger, and Santana was positioned to seal out the playside CB.

2-10-WAS 30 (14:19) R.Grossman pass deep middle to S.Moss to WAS 46 for 16 yards (M.Jenkins). Pass complete on crossing pattern.

Trent would go on to have a very good day against DeMarcus Ware, but he got embarrassed here. Ware gave an initial outside move before cutting in, and Trent lost his balance while trying to react and basically spun in a rather ridiculous looking circle. He was bailed out by Cooley who gave a very solid block from the fullback position before leaking into the flat. This was an inaccurate throw from Rex and outstanding leaping catch by Santana.

1-10-WAS 46 (13:44) T.Hightower left end to DAL 49 for 5 yards (M.Jenkins).

Lichtensteiger gets overpowered by the RDE and Chester is unable to get outside the NT to slow his pursuit, causing the cutback lane inside Trent’s block to close off. Hightower manages to bounce outside and would have had good yards, but Santana wasn’t expecting to be needed on the play and slacked on his block on the CB.

Blame Jim Haslett, not DeAngelo Hall, for 3rd & 21

Obviously Rex Grossman's unimpressive play, Sav Rocca's botched hold, and many other factors contributed to this loss. But the 3rd and 21 completion to Dez Bryant that saved Dallas' game-winning drive is the most painful failure because it was self inflicted. A reckless, show-off play call in the worst possible situation quite likely cost the Redskins a win.

Monday, September 26, 2011

How to beat Dallas

I, of course, am not a football coach. The Shanahans and Jim Haslett are, and there’s a good chance that what they choose to do will have little resemblance to what I suggest here. But looking at the strengths and weakness of each team, this is how I would go about trying to beat Dallas:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wrapping up Redskins-Cardinals

Just finished the game review this morning. Here's the link for each individual quarter if you're a detail person:

1st quarter
2nd quarter
3rd quarter
4th quarter

If not, here's a not-at-all exhaustive list of some things that jumped out at me. Feel free to add your own.

 - In the 4th quarter, at 7:27 and 3:56, you get two good examples of why the Redskins often motion running backs out to receiver positions but rarely throw to them Click the game review above for the details.

- I'm not sure I've ever seen as many unsuccessful cut blocks as the Redskins committed in this game.

- Kevin Barnes gets overeager before blitzes and tips them off, and on two occasion the Redskins got burned for it. One of was Larry Fitzgerald's 73 yard touchdown.

Redskins-Cardinals 4th quarter game review

OK, finishing up the Cardinals win this morning. Here are the links to the 1st quarter, 2nd quarter, and 3rd quarter. A little later today there will be a summary post with some highlights from the full review.

[You may be wondering about the large blank space at the top of this post. As am I. It cannot be deleted in my editing screen - in fact it doesn't exist there. Well, that's Blogger for you.]

Fourth Quarter

Washington Redskins at 15:00

1-10-ARZ 44 (15:00) R.Grossman pass short right to A.Armstrong to ARZ 36 for 8 yards (K.Rhodes).

2-2-ARZ 36 (14:33) R.Helu right tackle to ARZ 29 for 7 yards (R.Walker).           

Helu  creates yards despite less than perfect blocking. Chester gets beat and has to cut inside early, but a hard cut gets him throught the hole. There may have been more yards to be had, but Lichtensteiger missed a second level cut block on an ILB. Seems like I’ve been writing that a lot this week.

1-10-ARZ 29 (13:58) R.Helu left end to ARZ 11 for 18 yards (K.Rhodes).

Niles Paul motions to behind Fred Davis on the left, then after the snap crosses the backfield to cut block the backside pursuit. I don’t think this was intended to be a fake, and yet the strong safety and one of the ILBs reach strongly to Paul’s move as if they think an end around is coming. That takes them out of position and Trent knocks the other ILB backwards.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Redskins-Cardinals 3rd quarter review

Third Quarter

G.Gano kicks 60 yards from WAS 35 to ARZ 5, out of bounds.

Given the depth I don’t think this was a directional kick. If not, kicking it out of bounds is rather inexcusable.

Arizona Cardinals at 15:00

1-10-ARZ 40 (15:00) C.Wells right guard to ARZ 49 for 9 yards (R.Doughty, R.McIntosh).

A LG-C double team drives Cofield off the line, then the C gets in Rocky’s face to spring the RB to the secondary.

2-1-ARZ 49  (14:27) K.Kolb pass short left to L.Fitzgerald to WAS 48 for 3 yards (D.Hall; R.McIntosh).           

And another fine open field tackle by DeAngelo Hall.

1-10-WAS 48 (13:54) C.Wells right end to WAS 38 for 10 yards (O.Atogwe, R.McIntosh). WAS-J.Wilson was injured during the play. His return is Questionable. injured back

Kerrigan is easily sealed inside by the TE and Fletcher’s attempting to set the edge by taking down the FB is unproductive since the RB was intending to cut inside anyway behind both pulling guards, who neutralize Rocky and a pursuing Cofield.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

DeAngelo Hall, physical football player

Remember when DeAngelo Hall was afraid to hit?

In 2009 (when I first started this blog), I found him to be a confusing player. I was well aware of his reputation, of course, and most of the time he truly did seem to shy away from contact. The notorious game-conceding non-tackle on Jake Delhomme - who is not exactly Mike Vick, I might add - cemented his image with Redskins fans as a soft player. And yet, about once per game, he would stick his nose into traffic and make a physical play. Just as I would start to get impressed, he would go back to dodging ball carriers.

As late as the 2010 preseason, Jets coach Rex Ryan was incorporating Hall's history of poor (or lack of) tackling into sideline trash talk.

But something odd happened during the 2010 regular season.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Redskins-Cardinals 2nd quarter game review

Click here for the first quarter. As always play by play is taken from the NFL Game Book.

Let's dive in:

Second Quarter

Washington Redskins continued. 2-5-WAS 47 (15:00) PENALTY on ARZ-P.Lenon, Neutral Zone Infraction, 5 yards, enforced at WAS 47 - No Play.           

1-10-ARZ 48 (15:00) R.Grossman pass short middle to S.Moss to ARZ 41 for 7 yards (P.Peterson).

The safety lined up over Santana in the slot bites hard on the play action, so after the bootleg Rex has him easily in the flat.

2-3-ARZ 41 (14:20) T.Hightower left end to ARZ 37 for 4 yards (P.Lenon).           

Lichtensteiger locks onto an ILB at the second level and drives him back, opening up first down yardage for Hightower.

1-10-ARZ 37 (13:41) T.Hightower left end to ARZ 20 for 17 yards (K.Rhodes).

Trent Williams does a good job of sealing the OLB to the inside. Cooley and Montgomery each miss second level blocks meaning a ILB and a safety both have angles on the play, but Gaffney does a good job keeping the playside CB to the outside so Hightower is not forced back into the pursuit.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Redskins-Cardinals first quarter game review

OK, we're back for week 2. As always, the play by play is taken from the NFL game book. Do you have any idea how much more fun it is to do this for a win?

Let's get to it: 
First Quarter

J.Feely kicks 66 yards from ARZ 35 to WAS -1. B.Banks pushed ob at WAS 24 for 25 yards (O.Schofield).

Washington Redskins at 15:00, (1st play from scrimmage 14:54)

1-10-WAS 24 (14:54) T.Hightower right tackle to WAS 32 for 8 yards (C.Campbell).

Montgomery controls the DT just enough for Hightower to cut inside behind the solid block from Brown and Chester gets to the second level.

2-2-WAS 32 (14:19) T.Hightower left tackle to WAS 26 for -6 yards (A.Wilson).

This run goes straight into an unblocked safety blitz. Cooley would have been in position to block it but he didn’t see the blitz coming and crossed the backfield to cut off the backside pursuit.

3-8-WAS 26 (13:44) (Shotgun) R.Grossman pass deep left to S.Moss to WAS 45 for 19 yards (R.Marshall) [D.Dockett].           

Nice protection against the 7 man rush. With two blockers kept in the backfield (Cooley and Hightower) the linemen can focus on the Cardinals’ front four, so Chester and Montgomery neutralize the DTs and Lichtensteiger is available to take on a blitzing safety. When a linebacker and the other safety (after a delay) blitz through the right A gap Hightower and then Cooley work inside out and take them both out. There were a lot of opportunities for protection breakdowns here – maybe Chester panics on seeing the two blitzers and neglects his DT assignment, maybe Hightower reacts to the safety Lichtensteiger picks up and doesn’t cross the backfield to take out the linebacker, and so on… but they got everything right.