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Skins-Lions GT Review, Defensive Version

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Old 10-30-2008, 01:36 AM   #1
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Skins-Lions GT Review, Defensive Version

As easy as it is to document the offense's relative dominance, yet continual struggles, into words, it's hard to do the same for the Redskins' defense. Yet another opponent abandoned the run against the Redskins rather than run into Greg Blache's 8-in-the-box schemes. It's the ultimate football conundrum. The X's and O's theory says you have to throw to beat the Redskins. Just too many white jerseys in the box. But that flies directly in the face of what the scouting report says about the Redskins: run right at Jason Taylor and Anthony Montgomery.

The scouts realize that you can't have sustained success while throwing on the Redskins. Carlos Rogers and LaRon Landry are just too good. Chris Horton has been great as a rookie. Shawn Springs is having a great year, when he is healthy (he has appeared in 4 games). The Redskins don't get to the quarterback often, but they are good at collapsing the pocket and making the QB throw with pressure in his face. Donovan McNabb, Marc Bulger, Derek Anderson (especially Derek Anderson), and Dan Orlovsky are all QBs who struggle to throw with pressure in the face. You combine that with aggressive man coverage schemes, and you lose to the Redskins when you try to throw.

But Offensive Coordinators have learned from day one that you don't run into an 8 man front. And the Redskins play an 8 man front more often than any other team in the NFL. You can only run on the Redskins if you have big physical receivers who can make devastating blocks on the aggressive Redskins' DBs. The Giants and Cardinals have these receivers. The Browns, Rams, Cowboys, Eagles, and Lions most certainly do not.

And this is how Greg Blache has created the perfect puzzle for NFL offenses. Do they trust the scouting report more than their coaching backgrounds? Will they operate outside of their comfort zones? Can you handle the Washington Redskins' defense?

Greg Blache's Gameplan

One place where coordinators are beating Blache right now is that they are winning with misdirection type plays. End arounds, boots, reverses, play action off of zone action, anything that can get the Redskins going one way and the ball going another has been successful. The biggest culprit is Jason Taylor. Now, I get he has the injury and all, but this is a case of tape study, and play recognition, and no foot injury excuses the lack of discipline he has displayed as a Redskin thus far. Rocky McIntosh is also a culprit on the plays where he has the outside contain responsibility. Andre Carter has struggled with misdirection in the past, but he's doing a good job against it this season. Anthony Montgomery isn't recognizing these plays well either, but it's less of an issue with him because he's at least getting blocked on the play.

After blitzing virtually every play the last two weeks, Blache was far more judicious with the blitz this week, opting only to blitz on six plays. However, when he did blitz, Blache would absolutely send the house. Three times, the Redskins sent 7 rushers at Dan Orlovsky. Surprisingly, the Lions actually picked these blitzes up pretty well as the Redskins didn't even get a hit on Orlovsky on any of the three house blitzes. Orlovsky did not complete any of his passes against these blitzes, though once he was victimized by a clear drop.

The Redskins remain a better defense when they rush four, but the blitzes are a necessary evil to keep teams guessing. Blache does sometime tip his blitzes by leaving his base 4-3 package in against 3+ WR sets, because the LBs are the best blitzers.

Here is the blitz count and results:

Blitzes (39 passes)

6 blitzes
3 times 6+ rushers
3 times 7 rushers

For the first time this season, Blache called multiple corner blitzes.

London Fletcher x3
Rocky McIntosh x3
Mike Green x2
LaRon Landry x1 (1 pressure)
Marcus Washington x1
Fred Smoot x1
Leigh Torrence x1


Pass Defense

Vital Statistics:
Total Adj Yds = 205
Adj Yds per Play = 5.26
Success Rate = 36% (14/39)

Despite the incredibly pedestrian production that most opponents score against the Redskins' defense, and this game is certainly no exception, Dan Orlovsky had a pretty good game against the Redskins. The Lions were able to generate some big plays through the air, and against Carlos Rogers none the less. The Lions got two 15+ yard plays in which Rogers was targeted, and another 25 yarder when they got Mike Green out of position (bring back Horton!). The rest of their success was simply picking on Fred Smoot, who honestly has now put together 2 decent weeks in a row thanks to the man coverage he's getting on players such as Donte Stallworth and Shaun McDonald. McDonald was the leading WR for the Lions, but outside of the one play he got in Mike Green's zone, Calvin Johnson was the downfield threat.

Passing numbers like this are fine as long as the run defense is stingy, but it's got to be a tradeoff. The Redskins can't allow big pass plays through the air AND allow the opponent to grind them out on the ground. Luckily, teams are abandoning the run, and the success rate of the pass is taking a hit.

Pass Coverage
(Targets, Completions, Successes, Yards/Target)

Carlos Rogers -- 5, 3, 2, 11.0 (!)
Fred Smoot -- 10, 6, 5, 5.6
LaRon Landry -- 3, 0, 0, 0
Leigh Torrence -- 5, 3, 1, 3.8
Mike Green -- 2, 2, 2, 15.0
London Fletcher -- 3, 2, 1, 3.3
Rocky McIntosh -- 3, 2, 2, 5.0
HB Blades -- 1, 1, 0, 3.0

Leigh Torrence had a lot of playing time and probably played his best game of the season. Landry had a nice day after two back to back poor (by his standards) performances. Rogers wasn't bad like the numbers' suggest, but he's been a bit hobbled the last two weeks and has gone from total shutdown corner over the first five, to pretty good man cover guy over the last two. His loss is Smoot's gain, because Smoot is doing better against inferior competition. London Fletcher continues to be every bit as stingy against the pass as he is against the run. Mike Green is a poor pass coverage safety, but Blache is familiar with him...he knows his limitations.

This is the one area where being at the game really helps these breakdowns, seeing the secondary alignment. In the first half, the Redskins were content bringing pressure and playing a lot of man to man coverage. The Lions were able to generate big plays (and a lot of near big plays), so the Redskins got away from it and started to give Rogers safety help. This created some tough plays for Smoot, so the Redskins broke out some cover two. Orlovsky responded by throwing to Kevin Smith on every pass play and taking what the defense gave him. This would have worked, had the Lions not penalized themselves to death in the second half. Eventually, the Redskins started to get some pressure on Orlovsky, and force some incomplete passes, and were able to control the game.

Pass Rush

The pressure in this game had a big effect on the lack of consistency in the Lions' passing attack. Getting pressure on the QB has never been a problem for the Redskins. Getting to the QB and hitting/sacking him has been the issue. Jason Taylor's deflections have been hidden yardage against, and he's got 6 of em this year, so that's made a real difference on the quality of the Redskins' pass defense. Remember, Taylor has NOT been a bad pass rusher for the Redskins this season. He's just not always in on every down because of injury, but also because Demetric Evans is flat outplaying him. Taylor is good for a pressure and a deflection a game. It makes a difference, yes, but he's absolutely not been worth what the Redskins gave up for him thus far.

Meanwhile, big #94 has become quite the disruptive force in the interior. I said earlier that he was undisciplined to an extent against running plays, and he doesn't read the plays quite as well as a third year DT should, which means he can be exploited by screens and certain running schemes. But with dropback passing, you can't do anything to stop the big guy. He's coming for your QB. I'm not saying he should be in on third and long situations, but overall, the Redskins are a better pass rushing team when Monty is in the game than when he is on the sideline.

Here's the pass rush stats for the Lions game:

Sacks (1)
Demetric Evans

Passes Deflected (1)
Jason Taylor

QB Pressures (14)
Andre Carter x5
Anthony Montgomery x4
Demetric Evans x2
Kedric Golston
LaRon Landry
Jason Taylor

QB Hits (2)
Anthony Montgomery
Kedric Golston

Andre Carter probably needs to start sacking the QB more. He leads the Redskins with 20 pressures, but only has two sacks (which also leads the team). Carter might be taking too long to beat the tackle, and it may be costing the Redskins some game changing plays. Right now a majority of the Skins' sacks are coming from up the middle...which is great if the team is averaging 3 sacks a game. This team isn't and needs more sacks from the outside.

Notice that there were no LBs anywhere on the chart. Not a lot of chances in this one, but it's probably not too much to ask of Rocky or Fletch to do something when they try to get after the QB.

Run Defense

Vital Statistics:
Total Adj Yds = 52
Adj Yds per Play = 3.47
Success Rate = 27% (4/15)

These figures are a direct result of Mike Green's stellar play in the box, but more because of the fact that he was frequently in the box. Kedric Golston was a monster vs. the run in this game (simply outstanding), and Monty won all of his 1 v 1 matchups. Those three are the MVPs of the run defense in this one. Made the LBs job easy. Look:

Tackle Chart
(Tackles, Successful Runs [for the offense], Yds/tackle)

Mike Green -- 5, 0, 3.6
London Fletcher -- 4, 1, 3.5
Kedric Golston -- 3, 0, -0.3
Rocky McIntosh -- 3, 1, 4.7
Anthony Montgomery -- 2, 0, 1.0
LaRon Landry -- 1, 1, 2.0
Carlos Rogers -- 1, 1, 7.0
Fred Smoot -- 1, 1, 11.0

Maybe the most surprising thing is what the Lions never did, which is attack Carter and Jason Taylor. They ran outside and sealed Taylor down inside a few times, but the plays took too long to develop and the LBs just ran those plays down. The Lions didn't come in planning to attack the Skins on the ground, proving that they saw the 8-in-the-box stuff, and simply looked to throw for their yards.

Overall Defense

Vital Statistics:
Total Adj Yds = 257
Yds per Play = 4.76
Success Rate = 33% (18/54)

Overall, the defensive performance ranks somewhere in between the near shutouts of the last two games, and the moderate successes of the Cowboys and Eagles. Clearly, the Redskins won the war, but the Lions won some battles. Always something to improve on here.

The Steelers come to town next week, and the key will be to SACK Ben Roethlisberger. He doesn't fall into the category of the last few guys they faced, he's more in the Brees/Warner/Romo mold -- if he's not on the ground, the DL hasn't done enough to stop him. I am worried about this one, because the Redskins should probably stay with man coverage, however, that's going to create a mismatch on Smoot and/or Torrence. The only way to prevent this is for Andre Carter/Cornelius Griffin/Demetric Evans to put down Roethlisberger. Then, and only then, can the Redskins expect to move to 7-2 on the season.
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Old 10-30-2008, 02:07 AM   #2
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Re: Skins-Lions GT Review, Defensive Version

Defensive Breakdown: Skins vs Lions | postgameheroes.com
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Old 10-30-2008, 02:23 AM   #3
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Re: Skins-Lions GT Review, Defensive Version

One storyline of the second half: 2005 17th overall pick Erasmus' James' ownage of 2008 17th overall pick Gosder Cherilus. Two holding penalties on Cherilus because he couldn't block James legally. Good use of a 7th round pick!
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Old 10-30-2008, 06:44 AM   #4
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Re: Skins-Lions GT Review, Defensive Version

good read, as usual. thanks for the post
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Old 10-31-2008, 11:44 AM   #5
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Re: Skins-Lions GT Review, Defensive Version

Game valuation:

1) Golston
2) Montgomery
3) Fletcher
4) Carter
5) Landry
6) Rogers
7) McIntosh
8) Evans
9) M. Green
10) Smoot
11) Torrence
12) Washington
13) Erasmus James
14) L. Alexander
15) Blades
16) Jason Taylor
17) Tryon
18) Kareem Moore
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Old 10-31-2008, 11:49 AM   #6
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Re: Skins-Lions GT Review, Defensive Version

I know you touched on it a little, but how do you think Mike Green did for his first time with only about a week to relearn the system? From what I can tell he was a great pickup for the short term and may provide some nice depth in the future.
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Old 10-31-2008, 04:46 PM   #7
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Re: Skins-Lions GT Review, Defensive Version

Green's not going to be tested very much at SS. He was basically playing as a 4th LB this game on most plays, with some work as a deep safety. I can tell you from his time in Chicago that he sucks in coverage. He will provide exactly what we need for him when Horton is out, and you can't exactly beat the price.
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Old 10-31-2008, 10:30 PM   #8
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Re: Skins-Lions GT Review, Defensive Version

dude great post, gives a really good insight to our deffensive schemes. Clearly shows what could be a weakness and would our strengths, e.t.c. keep up these posts, i love reading them!! makes me feel more knowledgeable for when im talking to friends =]
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Old 11-01-2008, 10:45 AM   #9
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Re: Skins-Lions GT Review, Defensive Version

yeah i too love gtripps write ups and postgameheroes is a great website.

question: what is a "play action off of zone action"? is that where the O reads zone coverage and audibles play action to try and get a receiver behind coverage?

golston has been playing great in the trenches, havent seen AC do alot of his wide speed sweeps around the tackle this year. i always criticized him for doing that move way too much to the point teams would actually call their run based on his love to go outside. it seems he needs to use his speed to get sacks thoo. idk just ramblin.

go skins!!
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Old 11-01-2008, 11:43 AM   #10
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Re: Skins-Lions GT Review, Defensive Version

Quote:
Originally Posted by over the mountain View Post
question: what is a "play action off of zone action"? is that where the O reads zone coverage and audibles play action to try and get a receiver behind coverage?
Zone action refers to the lineman selling the zone running play. Play action was referring to the run fake by the QB.

On further review, that was horribly worded by me.
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