Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Redskin position review: Running backs

And we continue to slowly but surely make our way through the positions. Wrapped up the defense last week; below are the links to those posts…

Defensive line
Defensive backs

… and now running back seems like as good a place as any to start looking at the offense.

Let’s start with the obvious point that Clinton Portis has in all likelihood taken his last snap as a Redskin. Although he was one of my favorite players to watch during the Gibbs/Zorn era, he simply has little speed or power left to offer, and there seems little chance he could stay healthy through a full season. Fortunately this is one of the few positions where the Redskins actually have some young talent to feel good about.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Redskins position review: Defensive backs

Wrapping up the defensive as I continue to go position by position through the Redskins roster. Here are the links to the previous posts...

Defensive line review

Linebackers review

... and now we'll get into the cornerbacks.

We’ll start with DeAngelo Hall, because let’s face it he’s the kind of guy you start with.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My interview with former Redskin linebacker Ken Harvey

Anyone who was a Redskins fan in the '90s is sure to remember our former outside linebacker Ken Harvey. As part of his work with Diageo promoting responsible drinking, he was kind enough to answer some of my questions via email. Below you can read Ken's answers to my questions on the state of the Redskins defense.

Staying Medium: As a pass rusher, how important was strong defensive line play to your success? On a related note, do you think Brian Orakpo would have been more successful this year had the Redskins been able to squeeze the pocket more from the nose tackle and right defensive end positions, so quarterbacks would not have had as much room to step up and escape Orakpo’s edge pressure? Or is it the rusher’s responsibility to get to the quarterback regardless?

Ken Harvey: I think you have answered the question yourself. The D line is of the utmost importance because a 3 -4 is designed for the backers to make most of the tackles. As far as Orakpo, pass rushing, it is about timing and you try to hit the corner as a certain spot knowing that the quarterback is going to be there. He also has outside containment and so you can’t just make inside moves whenever you like. When the QB is allowed to step up, it disrupts timing and throws things off. With that said and done, your job is to get to the QB so you make adjustment to your game.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Redskins season review: Linebackers

I talked about the troubles of the defensive line a few days ago, so here is part 2 of evaluating where we stand after one season of the 3-4 defense.

The Redskins need to find two new starters in the linebacker corps. But since there are multiple other positions where we need to concentrate limited draft picks and free agent dollars (defensive line, offensive line, wide receiver, and apparently quarterback) there would seem to be an imperative to make do with what we already have at linebacker. If we add better linebackers without significantly upgrading the defensive line it won’t do any good. Fortunately, I think we can focus our resources on the line and improve the linebackers by re-signing a couple of guys already on the roster and letting them compete for jobs.

Let’s start on the inside:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Redskins vs. Giants 2nd quarter game review


2-10-NYG 25 (15:00) (Shotgun) R.Grossman pass short middle to S.Moss to NYG 20 for 5 yards (J.Goff).

3-5-NYG 20 (14:25) (Shotgun) R.Grossman sacked at NYG 30 for -10 yards (O.Umenyiora). FUMBLES (O.Umenyiora), RECOVERED by NYG-J.Pierre-Paul at NYG 25. J.Pierre-Paul to NYG 25 for no gain (K.Lichtensteiger).

Cooley gets beat badly, but it’s Trent who causes this sack. The RDE (Umenyiora) is beating Cooley around the outside. Keiland sees this and sets himself up to help, but Trent has turned inside to double team the DT. A safety had lined up on the LOS in a rather obvious blitz, and of course Cooley was responsible for the DE, so presumably Trent should have taken this blitzer. Instead Keiland has to react at the last second to pick him up and no one is there to bail out Cooley.

New York Giants at 14:17

1-10-NYG 25 (14:17) B.Jacobs left guard to NYG 25 for no gain (V.Holliday).

Nice job by Vonnie doing exactly what a 3-4 DE is supposed to do. He uses his strength to halt the LT on the line and keeps him in front of him so he can control the gap to either side, then once the runner commits he sheds off to stuff him.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Redskins vs. Giants 1st quarter game review

Bet you thought I wasn't going to bother rewatching the last game, but here's a start at least. I'm also working on a series of year-end assessments of each position group - I put up a post on the defensive line on Sunday night. Additional quarters of this game and a similar linebackers review will be showing up over the next few days.

As always, the play by play is in bold and taken directly from the official NFL gamebook, with my commentary added underneath most plays.


G.Gano kicks 65 yards from WAS 30 to NYG 5. D.Ware to NYG 29 for 24 yards (D.Young, T.Austin).

New York Giants at 15:00, (1st play from scrimmage 14:51)

1-10-NYG 29 (14:51) A.Bradshaw left guard to NYG 33 for 4 yards (A.Bryant; A.Carriker).

Holliday drives back the LG and maintains his 2 gap discipline but the LG grabs ahold of his jersey and keeps him from shedding off to make the stop in the backfield. Bryant is driven off the line a bit by the C and RG – not a Ma’ake Kemoeatu sent-reeling-back-five-yards kind of play, but he lets the hole open up. Carriker stands up the RT and fights his way down the line to take down the RB before he can get a major gain.

2-6-NYG 33 (14:10) E.Manning pass incomplete deep right to T.Beckum (K.Barnes).

Manning has a short rollout to the right. Despite the fact that Holliday beats the LG and Fletcher eventually blitzes once he realizes he has no one to cover, he is not particularly rushed on his throw. But for unknown reasons he floats one towards the sideline into double coverage and Barnes very nearly has a pick.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Redskins season review: Defensive line

The switch to a 3-4 defense was, for 2010 at least, a catastrophic failure. It’s not hard to see the reason – the Redskins had a solid defensive line and chose to do away with it by imposing a scheme that completely neutralized it’s best player (Albert Haynesworth), moved its other star (Brian Orakpo) to linebacker, and shifted everyone else to roles for which they were unsuited – all while being unable to bring in new players who could adequately compensate for these newly created weaknesses.

As anyone who has ever watched football knows, everything that is done with a 3-4 defense starts with the nose tackle. The job of a nose tackle is to be hard enough to move that he occupies multiple blockers, so that offenses can’t take advantage of the big gaps provided by a three man front and give blockers clean shots at the inside linebackers. And it is not really possible to compensate for poor nose tackle play – everyone else is utterly dependent on that one guy to allow them to do their jobs. Unfortunately, the chosen nose tackle (after it became clear that Haynesworth could not/would not be converted to a role that was such an obvious misapplication of his skills) was Ma’ake Kemoeatu.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Redskins @ Jaguars, 4th quarter and overtime review

1st quarter review
2nd quarter
3rd quarter


2-5-JAX 14 (15:00) R.Torain up the middle to JAX 10 for 4 yards (K.Morrison).

There was a big hole here, but Trent is unable to intercept the MLB downfield.

3-1-JAX 10 (14:21) M.Sellers up the middle to JAX 9 for 1 yard (Da.Smith).

Lichtensteiger blows a DT off the line, but Trent and Cooley fail to keep the right side of the jaguars line from crashing inside. Still looks to me like Sellers got stopped short, but the spot worked out in our favor.

1-9-JAX 9 (13:53) R.Grossman pass short middle to C.Cooley to JAX 1 for 8 yards (D.Carey; C.Greene).

Cooley sells his block hard on the play fake, so the LBs forget about him and he is wide open for Rex on the bootleg.

2-1-JAX 1 (13:02) R.Torain right end to JAX 1 for no gain (R.Allen; J.Mincey).

Rabach is immediately knocked to the ground and the penetration causes Torain to be making cuts in the backfield.

3-1-JAX 1 (12:20) R.Grossman pass incomplete short right to M.Sellers (J.Mincey).

The play action works and Davis springs open on a drag to the left, but Rex is focused on Paulsen or Cooley and doesn’t notice Davis until the pressure gets to him, whereupon he goes through the standard “Rex under pressure” routine of backpedaling desperately, pump faking, and finally awkwardly throwing it away in such a manner that it quite possibly could have been picked.

4-1-JAX 1 (12:10) R.Torain up the middle for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN.

Lichtensteiger pulls, goes low, and takes down the defenders closing on the hole, allowing Torain to dive over him.