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Redskins v Eagles Defensive GT Review: How strong play in the trenches almost killed the Eagles

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Old 01-16-2009, 03:33 PM   #1
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Redskins v Eagles Defensive GT Review: How strong play in the trenches almost killed the Eagles

You've gotta give Andy Reid credit: he knew right from the first drive that he wasn't going to be moving the Redskins DL off the ball.

This was Jason Taylor's only multi-sack game of the entire season, but the MVPs of this game were the defensive tackles: Anthony Montgomery, Corneilius Griffin, and Lorenzo Alexander (who even got to try to cover Brian Westbrook on a wheel route!) There were zero holes in between the tackles for Brian Westbrook to run, and whenever he tried to bounce the play wide, the fact that London Fletcher wasn't ever blocked was in fact a means to the end: ineffective running.

Knowing this, Reid was smart enough to try to beat the Skins where you have to beat them: through the air. Unfortunately, Donovan McNabb again struggled to throw the ball accurately in FedEx field, and when he did make some good throws, his recievers were either unable to beat the Redskins coverage, or simply couldn't catch the darn thing.

I will stop short of saying that the Redskins developed a blueprint to stop the Eagles offense, because the Eagles were missing their two most dependable receiving targets: Hank Baskett and Kevin Curtis. The only matchup in the secondary that favored them in this one was Reggie Brown vs. Fred Smoot. The Eagles receivers, particually Baskett and Curtis, do not get enough credit for what they do for the Eagles offense. This is a totally different unit without them, and more importantly, it's not the same as having James Thrash and Todd Pinkston as your starting receivers. Remember, just because those guys were/are terrible/Redskins does not mean that every receiver to come through Philly is equally as useless.

But what the Redskins did to stop Brian Westbrook was all about not letting him get started. Literally. In his routes, the Redskins would man cover him in the backfield before he released out, and grab and hold him there, which is legal. Jason Taylor may have come up with two sacks and two more pressures in this one, but his biggest contribution (aside from forcing the fumble on McNabb) was how he defended Brian Westbrook man to man for most of the game. So well, in fact, that McNabb left him out of the progression on a lot of plays, opting instead to look at his tight ends, LJ Smith and Brent Celek.

Anthony Montgomery even sniffed out a screen! I was so happy. Now about those draw plays...later.

Pass Offense

Vital Statistics
Total adj yards = 220
Yards per play = 4.58
Success rate = 41.7% (20/48)

The Redskins did two things out of character in this game defensively: they got off the field on third down, especially well in the second half, and they forced a major, game-changing play. Greg Blache called a very good game. He blitzed the Eagles more than he did the Ravens, but mostly, he played it smart on third downs and let his full 7-8 man coverage unit get off the field.

I think he's got an inherent respect for Donovan McNabb's abilities to beat the blitz. We know he respects Westbrook as a weapon in the open field. It's just amazing to me how strong this entire unit looks when we come out with a gameplan that respects our opponents strenghts and works to eliminate them rather then assuming that all of our opponents are garbage and treated them with generic calls accordingly.

Ultimately though, it's better to be lucky than good. And the Redskins were very lucky in this game. They did not get a considerable amount of pressure on Donovan McNabb (2 sacks, 2 hits, 7 pressures), but he still struggled to beat them with his arm. If not for the drops, he probably would have overcame it anyway. It's not like the offense was doing anything in this one.

Coverage
(Targets, Completions against, Success rate against, YPA)

DeAngelo Hall - 10
, 5, 40%, 3.5
Shawn Springs - 7, 5, 43%, 4.1
LaRon Landry - 6, 2, 33%, 4.7
London Fletcher - 5, 4, 60%, 4.8
Fred Smoot - 4, 3, 75%, 9.5
Carlos Rogers - 3, 2, 67%, 4.0
Chris Horton - 3, 2, 33%, 6.0
HB Blades - 2, 1, 0%, 1.0
Jason Taylor - 1, 1, 100%, 5.0

DeAngelo Hall is night and day from the first half of the season. So is Chris Horton. Not exactly in the same direction (rookie wall? does it exist?). Carlos Rogers has the exact same level of play as he did in the first half of the year, but apparently, he's not a likeable guy. Fred Smoot's 3 game respectablility march in the middle of the year was clearly an abberration, as he has gone back to sucking on a weekly basis. I like how our best corner and worst corner split time on a rotational basis for third corner. That seems...like a gross misuse of resources, although Shawn Springs and DeAngelo Hall have done just fine as the starting corners this December. I still feel that HB Blades will be a dominant player on this team for a long time as his numbers this year have been beyond unbelievable. He's had a fantastic year off the bench, in relief.

The only thing I want you to take from this chart is that all the corners and our cover safety have nearly identical YPA numbers, they are all good, sometimes great players. And then there is Fred Smoot, who is a matchup dream for an offensive coordinator, and is quite terrible.

Be careful with the chart, because even though Hall had the best day in coverage, if DeSean Jackson even catches one of those long tosses from McNabb, he's probably around 6.0 YPA, which is pretty mediocre, and not at the same level of Springs/Rogers. Still a totally different level of performance than the Oakland debacle.

Fun small sample fact: teams that target Lorenzo Alexander with a pass this year average 24 yards a play. I'm guessing he's not adding safety to the list of positions he can play anytime soon.

Pass Rush

Sacks (2)
Jason Taylor x2

QB Hits (2)
Andre Carter
Demetric Evans

QB Flushes (3)
Lorenzo Alexander
Corneilius Griffin
Chris Wilson

Pressures (7)
Jason Taylor x2
Corneilius Griffin x2
Anthony Montgomery
Demetric Evans
Andre Carter

Deflections
None

Run Defense

Vital Statistics
Total adj yards = 42
Yards per play = 3.0
Success rate = 35.7% (5/14)

There's not a ton to say here that will not be apparent in the tackle chart. I'm not even going to do yards against per tackle, because only two players were in double digits against and no player was charted with more than three tackles.

If you missed it, this was Eagles week.

Tackles
(Tackles, Successful runs against, total yards against)

Anthony Montgomery - 3, 0, 6
Corneilius Griffin - 2, 0, 1
Rocky McIntosh - 2, 1, 2
London Fletcher - 2, 0, 3
Marcus Washington - 2, 0, 4
DeAngelo Hall - 2, 2, 14
Andre Carter - 1, 1, 3
Chris Horton - 1, 1, 4
LaRon Landry - 1, 1, 12

Overall Defense

Vital Statistics
Total adj yards = 262
Yards per play = 4.23
Success rate = 40.3% (25/62)

The defensive season reviews will be coming shortly as well as a comprehensive release of all of our total individual player statistics. There will be some surprising things there.

In the immediate, the Redskins can look at this season two ways on the defensive side of the ball. They can look at the run defense, which was our rock the entire season, through thick and thin, and try to rest on our laurals and hope we develop a top offense that can win championships with this defense. Or they can look at the pass defense, which declined as the year went on, and try to improve some things via the draft or free agency that will help us win next year.

I hope they do whatever they can to get this team back in the playoffs in 2009. And that may very well mean some tough choices about Fred Smoot, DeAngelo Hall, Rocky McIntosh, and Jason Taylor. Plus, who will start at free safety next year. Should we change around our schemes to eliminate the "Angel" position? Can we had that dynamic pass rushing LB that will allow us to be successful at what we tried to be this year? Or should we go a simpler route, and look to add more depth at corner. Do we really know if any of our corners will be back for sure?

I plan to examine all of these issues in the offseason. I hope you find these write up interesting, and have imput for how they can be condensed for next year.

As always, Hail to the Redskins, through the draft, minicamp, training camp, and into the preseason next year.
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Old 01-16-2009, 03:56 PM   #2
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Re: Redskins v Eagles Defensive GT Review: How strong play in the trenches almost killed the Eagles

Dude your a genius. I mean your stats are unbelivable.!!
Nice work.
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