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GTripp's non-tape related thoughts on Eagles v Redskins

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Old 12-23-2008, 04:09 PM   #1
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GTripp's non-tape related thoughts on Eagles v Redskins

As mentioned in last weeks game tape review, there would be no review of this game, win or lose this week. It will be an offseason project to look through that game and find out exactly how the Redskins won. For now, I'm stuck doing most of this game review off plain old observation and memory. How eighteenth century of me.

Thought #1
It remains to be seen whether or not the Redskins will be a better defense in the post-Blache era. But if Blache's poor gameplanning is to blame for defeats to the Cowboys and Giants, then it's only fair to credit Blache for a job well done leading up to the game this week. The same man who ran a poor gameplan in the rain against the Giants that gave Eli Manning a nice pocket and man coverage on his receivers, managed to call a game that -- in the wind this time -- gave Donovan McNabb no where to put the football while he got considerable pressure from the Redskins front four, or oftentimes, three man rush. McNabb was totally stymied when the Redskins defensive line simply held Brian Westbrook coming out of the backfield, which is legal behind the line of scrimmage.

It's a very simple strategy to prevent Westbrook from being a receiving threat. There's a reason a lot of teams opt to play zone against the Eagles instead: it's because you cost yourselves a pass rusher doing this, and teams feel like if they can get pressure on McNabb, they can force him into mistakes. Problem is, if you aren't covering his outlet receiver, how the heck are you going to get any pressure on him? The Redskins were able to collapse the pocket with just a three man rush most of the day, and their corners in man coverage on the Eagles WRs, with safety help usually available, is going to be a matchup that heavily favors the Redskins. Except Fred Smoot, who was responsible for pretty much all 10+ yard passes in this one.

While DeAngelo Hall has shown questionable fundamentals in tackling, a short fuse causing him to hit people after the play, and you generally don't want him on an island with any receiver, when you give the guy safety help and tell him to play what's in front of him, you can see that he's pretty darn good. I do think Hall can be a good second corner if his secondary mates are Carlos Rogers, LaRon Landry, and Chris Horton next year.

Thought #2
Jason Campbell made too many mistakes in this game, which caused Jim Zorn to pull the ball out of his hands in the fourth quarter. I counted three bad plays from Campbell, which will generally cost his team the game, but luckily, none of the three became Redskins turnovers.

  • Campbell's first mistake came on the first drive of the game, the second third down conversion attempt. The Eagles did not blitz, and played a zone coverage. Campbell kept his eyes downfield like he's taught, but for some reason, did not feel all the pressure behind him. Campbell knows he is supposed to step up in the pocket in this situation, and he'll see his mistake in the film room. By not sliding up in the pocket, Campbell's big windup allowed an Eagles rusher to get his hand on the ball and force a fumble, which was recovered by Casey Rabach.
  • Campbell's second mistake came on a third down play in which they scored a touchdown against the Bengals the week before with the same call. It's a max protect scheme where Randle El runs across the formation trying to draw the coverage, and the Redskins try to slip Santana Moss in between the coverage in the back of the end zone. The Eagles came with a 5 man rush, not the seven man rush the Bengals came with. Moss was very well defended in the end zone, and Campbell threw the ball anyway. Moss made a great defensive play to keep the ball from being intercepted, and the Redskins got three points out of the drive.
  • Campbell's final mistake was the most obvious: The Eagles brought an overload blitz from the blind side that should have been picked up, but Campbell realized quite early that it wasn't going to be, and scrambled out to his right. That's an early win for the Redskins offense, since the Eagles had dropped coverage on the side Campbell was rolling to. However, the Eagles were bringing a corner and a safety, and there was no way Campbell was going to out run them, so he tried to throw off his back foot out of bounds. Only he threw way too far down the field, and the ball came down in Asante Samuel's arms, only to see him drop it. Would have been a tough pick for Samuel in a full on sprint, but a throw away pass can't be left on the field of play unless the QB's arm is hit as he throws. Campbell knows he's got to get the ball onto the sideline. The Redskins would not get a first down the rest of the game on offense, because the Eagles shut down the run, and the Redskins dropped all of Campbell's short, safe passes in the 4th quarter.
Thought #3
The special teams had a really good game. I don't think I've ever been able to say that this year, but if the Redskins are going to win any games with two replacement-level offensive tackles preventing the offense from moving, someone is going to have to pick up the slack. Ryan Plackemeier has now had TWO good games as the punter of the Redskins. How about that?

And even Antwaan Randle El had a return of over 30 yards. Which is longer than 16, his previous season long. Which is pathetic. Er, was pathetic.

And even though Shaun Suisham missed short again, he was punching the ball into the end zone with regularity on kickoffs, so we know the problem on the FG team isn't a lack of leg power. It's got to be something with the hold, or where Suisham is striking the ball on his longer FGs. Either way, it's can't hurt to change the holder, especially since Todd Collins at holder allows the Redskins to have a fake FG package. I don't see the problem with Suisham on those shorter kicks that others do, as he's usually right down the middle with those kicks, not hugging the goal post on either side.

Thought #4
Troy Aikman mentioned this during the broadcast: the Redskins offense has declined at the same rate it's running game has. The Redskins are now clearly a pass first team. And while that was the plan all along, this change didn't come by design, it was dictated by neccessity. Portis had a good game against the Eagles, but you just can't get Jason Fabini and Stephon Heyer to make their blocks in the running game with any regularity. So instead of the 4.5-5.0 yards per carry that Portis got in the first game, he's now between 3.0 and 4.0 yards per carry. I don't think that's Portis doing any worse, although he certainly had his chances one on one vs. DBs, I just think the OL isn't the run blocking force it was in the first seven games of the season. Ever since Samuels got hurt the first time (against St. Louis), the Redskins have been not-so-great at protecting the passer. Now, they just aren't good run blocking line either. They've re-passed the receviers as the main trouble unit on the offensive side, in my opinion.

Thought #5
Greg Blache says that he wants Jason Taylor to return. While he's not an everydown end at this point in his career, there's two main reasons I want him back next year. The first one is this: there's no chance I see that any of our picks in the 2009 draft go to the defensive line. Offensive Line and Linebacker are both greater need areas. Any cuts we make on the defensive front will simply downgrade our production next season when I fully expect a much-improved offense to help us have a great team. The other reason is that I think Greg Blache, or whoever the defensive coordinator is next year, will easily find a niche in the defense for a player like Jason Taylor. You know who leads the Redskins in sacks this year? Yep, it's No. 55, following his two sack performance against the Eagles.

Jason Taylor is not good against the run at all, but every other player on the Redskins defense is (save maybe LaRon Landry), so there is absoultely a spot on the team for him next year. Now, if the Redskins can save his 8 million cap number next year, and re-invest that money into the team, more power to them, but I like our defensive line in the short term just the way it is right now, and would like to bring back Jason Taylor for one more season. We saw how improved Andre Carter got from year one to year two on the Redskins, I would give Jason Taylor the same chance.

Final Thought
We could play the what if game this week. Had we beaten the Bengals, we would control our own destiny in the NFC playoffs right now. But I'm not worried about that. Had we beaten the Bengals, Blache might not have altered his gameplan to defend the Eagles as well as he did. And going forward, this divisional win, a much needed quality victory, is way more important to the Redskins' future than any win in the AFC. Given the hatred that Eagles fans deserve, this is really the best Christmas gift the Redskins could have given us, much better in my opinion than a 6th seed playoff birth that saw us losing to these guys. If we can go to the west coast and beat the 49ers, the Redskins are guarenteed a 3rd place finish in the NFC East. A loss by the Cowboys, and we finish ahead of them in the standings.

Given, a last place schedule gets the Rams and Lions next year, and a third place schedule gets the Seahawks and Packers. So there's that benefit to losing the game this week. However, any finish ahead of the Cowboys or the Eagles, and you HAVE to consider this a successful season. 9-7 in this division IS something to write home about.

Happy Holidays everyone!
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Old 12-23-2008, 04:44 PM   #2
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Re: GTripp's non-tape related thoughts on Eagles v Redskins

great writing and observation, on JCs second mistake that was right in front of me and it looked like JC wanted to get the ball out and (i thought) did a good job of not short arming that ball but making sure to keep it alil long so either moss caught it or it wouldnt be as easy to int. also kinda felt JC wanted to take a shot alil bit down field since the few plays where he had a lil time before this one he checked down.

i def think JC forced that throw to moss but atleast to me it seemed he knew he was forcing the ball to try and make a play and took some precaution by giving it alil more air and zip.

and yeah i was scared and moss did a great job helping prevent the int

thanks for another kick ass post.

go skins!
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Old 12-23-2008, 04:46 PM   #3
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Re: GTripp's non-tape related thoughts on Eagles v Redskins

GTripp are you serious about being unsure whether Blache returns? Is it that he wants to retire or you think the FO/Zorn might want to replace him? I'm confused.
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Old 12-23-2008, 04:49 PM   #4
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Re: GTripp's non-tape related thoughts on Eagles v Redskins

I agree with your take on Jason Taylor. A healthy JT could go a long way in helping our pass rush problems. Hopefully we can get his cap number down a bit and hold him to that self analysis that he's not worth $8M.

And I definitely agree that the offensive line and linebacker spots need more attention. A LB that can get after the passer would be a nice bonus too.
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Old 12-23-2008, 05:28 PM   #5
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Re: GTripp's non-tape related thoughts on Eagles v Redskins

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GTripp are you serious about being unsure whether Blache returns? Is it that he wants to retire or you think the FO/Zorn might want to replace him? I'm confused.
I agree with SmootSmack that Zorn's best chance to be successful is with his own hand pick assistants. I have no idea if Blache will be back or not. I'm willing to entertain either school of thought regarding his retirement.
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Old 12-23-2008, 05:46 PM   #6
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Re: GTripp's non-tape related thoughts on Eagles v Redskins

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[*]Campbell's first mistake came on the first drive of the game, the second third down conversion attempt. The Eagles did not blitz, and played a zone coverage. Campbell kept his eyes downfield like he's taught, but for some reason, did not feel all the pressure behind him. Campbell knows he is supposed to step up in the pocket in this situation, and he'll see his mistake in the film room. By not sliding up in the pocket, Campbell's big windup allowed an Eagles rusher to get his hand on the ball and force a fumble, which was recovered by Casey Rabach.
[*]Campbell's second mistake came on a third down play in which they scored a touchdown against the Bengals the week before with the same call. It's a max protect scheme where Randle El runs across the formation trying to draw the coverage, and the Redskins try to slip Santana Moss in between the coverage in the back of the end zone. The Eagles came with a 5 man rush, not the seven man rush the Bengals came with. Moss was very well defended in the end zone, and Campbell threw the ball anyway. Moss made a great defensive play to keep the ball from being intercepted, and the Redskins got three points out of the drive.

Happy Holidays everyone!
I gotta disagree with you about the 1st mistake. The it was 3rd & 8 the Redskins were in Pro-form splitback 3 wide. Eagles did blitz they blitzed 7, Fabini and Thomas get beat, (so does Cooley) Jason actually steps up in the pocket then the bam the blitzing DB knocks the ball out. But, you're right JC has to hold onto that ball.

JZ said on the sports reporters that he didn't fault Jason on that play but also said that Jason can't fumble the ball.

I agree about that redzone pass. Dude i re-watched that play a bunch. And every time i can't help but think that if JC would have put the ball right on Moss coming out of his break TOUCHDOWN! I thought JC was late and high with that pass.

He missed on a couple of other passes. A corner route to Davis from the I-From double TE set off of PA. And a pass to Cooley in the flat from motion out of the I-Form Dbl TE set.

There also were 3 drops also Moss, Davis, ARE, (Thomas had a drop but he made a good play just getting to the pass)

Again i thought JC looked sharp in the 4 wide and shotgun sets and did a good job scrambling (he's gotta learn how to slide).

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Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!
HTTR!
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Old 12-23-2008, 05:53 PM   #7
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Re: GTripp's non-tape related thoughts on Eagles v Redskins

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I gotta disagree with you about the 1st mistake. The it was 3rd & 8 the Redskins were in Pro-form splitback 3 wide. Eagles did blitz they blitzed 7, Fabini and Thomas get beat, (so does Cooley) Jason actually steps up in the pocket then the bam the blitzing DB knocks the ball out. But, you're right JC has to hold onto that ball.

JZ said on the sports reporters that he didn't fault Jason on that play but also said that Jason can't fumble the ball.

I agree about that redzone pass. Dude i re-watched that play a bunch. And every time i can't help but think that if JC would have put the ball right on Moss coming out of his break TOUCHDOWN! I thought JC was late and high with that pass.

He missed on a couple of other passes. A corner route to Davis from the I-From double TE set off of PA. And a pass to Cooley in the flat from motion out of the I-Form Dbl TE set.

There also were 3 drops also Moss, Davis, ARE, (Thomas had a drop but he made a good play just getting to the pass)

Again i thought JC looked sharp in the 4 wide and shotgun sets and did a good job scrambling (he's gotta learn how to slide).

-If you want to download the game you can get an HD copy @:
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Thanks for the link. I should have the game though back up in Grand Rapids, as the last thing I did before I left for the holidays was record the game. You probably have the right call if you say the Eagles blitzed on the play, as I'm doing this off of memory.

I thought a lot of people got beat, but I know that the fundamentally correct move is for Campbell to step up before making the throw. He's usually very good at this, as it seemed to be an isolated mistake.

There's no doubt that he's our franchise QB, but he might have cost us this one if the Eagles defense capitalized on our mistakes. Hopefully he has a great game to end the year this week. He's made so many more plays with his legs then he gets credit for this season, extending drives when no one is open. He did it again, for what was our best play in the second half.

Campbell, I thought, played a pretty good game, but you can't afford to make as many critical mistakes as he did in this one. Luckily, he got away with all of them.
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Old 12-23-2008, 09:51 PM   #8
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Re: GTripp's non-tape related thoughts on Eagles v Redskins

cant agree with you about SS,from what I remember there was a strong wind at his back on the kickoffs he sailed into the endzone,the Eagles kicker sailed his first kickoff out of the back of the endzone if i remember correctly,it was the wind,not SS
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Old 12-23-2008, 09:56 PM   #9
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Re: GTripp's non-tape related thoughts on Eagles v Redskins

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cant agree with you about SS,from what I remember there was a strong wind at his back on the kickoffs he sailed into the endzone,the Eagles kicker sailed his first kickoff out of the back of the endzone if i remember correctly,it was the wind,not SS
Good point. He was kicking with the wind as well on the FG, so it still should have gotten there, at the very least. He's clearly able, he just hasn't been doing it.
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:20 PM   #10
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Re: GTripp's non-tape related thoughts on Eagles v Redskins

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I agree with SmootSmack that Zorn's best chance to be successful is with his own hand pick assistants. I have no idea if Blache will be back or not. I'm willing to entertain either school of thought regarding his retirement.
Really? I mean who could/would Zorn bring in that might get more out of the defensive group we've got? It seems to me (and i'm far from an expert) that our defensive system/strategy is sort of unique for the league. We don't attain success through pressure like other top defenses do (we are 4th overall d right?). We stop the run very well and typically play phenomenal coverage... unless the offense picks on Smoot.
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Old 12-24-2008, 12:49 AM   #11
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Re: GTripp's non-tape related thoughts on Eagles v Redskins

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Really? I mean who could/would Zorn bring in that might get more out of the defensive group we've got? It seems to me (and i'm far from an expert) that our defensive system/strategy is sort of unique for the league. We don't attain success through pressure like other top defenses do (we are 4th overall d right?). We stop the run very well and typically play phenomenal coverage... unless the offense picks on Smoot.
Well, we certainly do, when we're not blitzing the heck out of the defense and giving up third and long plays.

We're very deep in the secondary, but it's tough to match up in man with today's WRs. We match up very well in man coverage with the Eagles' WRs though. That's twice now this year they've been able to get pressure on McNabb without any predictable blitzes, and he's got no where to go with the ball.
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Old 12-24-2008, 03:42 AM   #12
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Re: GTripp's non-tape related thoughts on Eagles v Redskins

I think the defense has been better than under Williams . I think our strength is in the back 7 and at times we have not been playing to our strengths sending rather basic and predictable blitzes .

I also agree any improvements coming on the DL is going to come via FA, despite what Vinny says about no more band aid FA...I am assuming by that any FA is going to be 25-28 with a future with the Skins .
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Old 12-24-2008, 07:58 AM   #13
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Re: GTripp's non-tape related thoughts on Eagles v Redskins

i like your read on the game gtripp. but what is bothering me is, even when Campbell understands what the defense is trying to do( as in mistake #3) he doesn't make the right read. in a blitz, there is always a hot receiver. if he is covered, you either get rid of the ball, or take off. you have to understand there is limited time in the pocket. on the fumble, he definitely screwed up
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Old 12-24-2008, 09:38 AM   #14
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Re: GTripp's non-tape related thoughts on Eagles v Redskins

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GTripp are you serious about being unsure whether Blache returns? Is it that he wants to retire or you think the FO/Zorn might want to replace him? I'm confused.
He wanted to retire last offseason but DS talked him into coming back. So who knows?
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Old 12-24-2008, 05:00 PM   #15
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Re: GTripp's non-tape related thoughts on Eagles v Redskins

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i like your read on the game gtripp. but what is bothering me is, even when Campbell understands what the defense is trying to do( as in mistake #3) he doesn't make the right read. in a blitz, there is always a hot receiver. if he is covered, you either get rid of the ball, or take off. you have to understand there is limited time in the pocket. on the fumble, he definitely screwed up
Well, the third mistake is a great learning oppertunity for the offense.

Understand that the blitz in that situation put 5 rushers on 6 blockers. From the perspective of the quarterback and the receivers, that's a blitz that the protection should be able to handle. So the receivers don't need to change their routes, as if the blitz can be picked up, we have a good chance at a big play.

The fundamentally correct thing to do would be for Campbell to stay in the pocket and deliver the football. However, Campbell saw the overload blitz, and he also saw that the line wasn't going to sort it out. Our Center never, ever picks up on these kind of things. It's very obvious on film (on many overload blitzes) that Kendall wants to pass off his guy to Rabach and help pick up the overload blitz, but he can't do it because Rabach is never on the same page as anyone else.

So Campbell does the only thing he can do, and runs from the pressure. Once he realizes that he isn't going to be able to outrun them, he throws it away. All of that is just really good quarterbacking from Campbell.

Then he doesn't get it to the sideline, and narrowly avoids a game changing mistake. Which, is obviously not excusable. But it starting with a pass protection breakdown first, then became a physical/mental error by the QB.

There's not always a hot receiver in a blitz. There's a hot call if the offense expects to get more pressure than they can handle, but, without rewatching the play, I believe the receivers made the correct call here to stay with their routes.
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