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Greg Blache gets his revenge: Skins-Rams Defensive Review

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Old 09-23-2009, 09:21 AM   #1
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Greg Blache gets his revenge: Skins-Rams Defensive Review

Last year, the story of the Redskins-Giants game at FedEx Field was, in my opinion, the complete embarrassment of the Redskins' defensive coaching staff to adjust their gameplan for the field conditions, while the Giants defense took away the Redskins' running game and the Redskins ran right into it.

While certainly, revenge would have been more satisfying if it game against the Giants, the story of this game is the complete out-coaching of Steve Spagnuolo and Pat Shurmur by Greg Blache. In a game where both head coaches looked completely in over their heads, Blache brought some new tricks to the table that we had not yet seen from him as defensive coordinator of the Redskins. And trust me, no one was more surprised than yours truly when I reviewed the game tape.

That's right: on the fourth defensive play of the game, Greg Blache called a zone blitz. Sure, it looked really awkward to watch, but Brian Orakpo dropped to the area where Marc Bulger was trying to throw the ball. The pass was dropped and probably should have been completed for a first down, but the zone blitz is an easy way to generate pressure on the quarterback without actually costing the defense numbers in terms of coverage. What they got was a quick throw into zone coverage, and who knows if that caused a drop, but I think if you just blitz six guys, that pass is probably completed.

The Redskins ran a second zone blitz in the second quarter, and this one earned Marc Bulger a free expense paid trip to the grass at FedEx Field.



Notice the image above (which can be enlarged with a click). On 3rd and 16, the Rams came out in a 4 WR gun, and the Redskins responded with a pretty standard cover three scheme, at least on the surface. The Rams ran a bunch of vertical routes with their receivers.

See how London Fletcher (#59) lines up right in the A gap? While this isn't uncommon for the Redskins, his presence there in this play threw off the Rams blocking scheme. On the snap, both Fletcher at DT Kedric Golston dropped into zone coverage. The Redskins also run a stunt: Haynesworth (#92) and Orakpo (#98) both slant hard to the left, as the stunt causes the Rams to use three offensive lineman on these two players. Rocky McIntosh (#52) did not show his blitz before the snap, and in this zone dog scheme, he comes free to the quarterback and gets a hit on Marc Bulger. Bulger floats a weak shovel pass out in the direction of Stephen Jackson, Horton makes the play, and the Rams punt.

The play was an excellent encapsulation of how Greg Blache went away from the vanilla defensive schemes this week, in a week where the Redskins really needed their defense to step up.

It didn't hurt that the players won their one on one battles. Mark Bulger was under duress all day long. Everyone on the defensive line got into the action: Philip Daniels, Andre Carter, Albert Haynesworth, Kedric Golston, Cornelius Griffin, Brian Orakpo, Rocky McIntosh, and Chris Horton all had plays where they affected the offensive rhythm. Griffin chipped in with two tackles for loss as well.

The Rams never ran the ball on 3rd or 4th down, although it was certainly the down where they enjoyed the most success.

Rams Gameplan

The Rams tried to get London Fletcher blocked and take him out of the game when they ran the ball, and the strategy worked pretty well: when they tried, they had success running on the Redskins D. When the Redskins stopped the Rams, it was because the defensive line rose up and made a play in the backfield. The only exception to this rule was the play of the entire game (in my humble opinion): a 2nd and 4 run by Stephen Jackson from the Redskins' 9 yard line in the fourth quarter. The Rams OL beat the Redskins DL at the point of attack, but Jackson indefensibly cut back away from where the play was supposed to go, and Fletcher met him in the hole, forcing a third down. On the next play, Donnie Avery fumbled.

It shows how tight the margin for error for a team like the Rams is against the Redskins. If Jackson had been perfect on the day, the Rams probably win. Jackson was merely close to perfect, and the Redskins held on.

Pass Defense is an issue, Vol. II

When Carlos Rogers has a bad day, it stands out. So what was his deal on Sunday? Best I can tell, it was just "one of those days". A few times, Rogers was in good position, and the Rams just ran timing routes where the ball came out before the receiver made the break. Other times, Rogers just slipped in coverage on plays that could have been defended. Both those things happen in the course of a football game, but rarely are they so exclusive as to contribute to a disaster of the day. Rogers did, however, get his revenge with a jarring hit on Avery on the last drive.

Rogers allowed 5 completions on 8 attempts--all completions for first downs--for 42 yards. You know what? At the end of the day, that's only 5.25 YPA, a very good figure for a corner. The 5 first downs can and will be improved.

DeAngelo Hall allowed 4 completions on 5 attempts--2 first downs and a touchdown--for 24 yards. That's 4.8 YPA, a very good figure. But like Rogers, if you are allowing first downs or touchdowns on more than half the targets at you, yards against are only part of the story.

Justin Tryon held his own in two pass attempts: 1 completion for 13 yards and a first down. 6.5 YPA.

Right now, the biggest issue in coverage is the gaping holes in it's zone coverage scheme. This has to be a good zone coverage team because of the limited man coverage ability of Hall and Tryon, and between London Fletcher, Brian Orakpo, and Chris Horton, they have to get it figured out. 25 yard completions on 2nd and 20 are completely unacceptable for an NFL defense.

The Bottom Line

Here are the macro-level defensive numbers for the Redskins:

  • 4.66 yards per play
  • 46% success rate against
  • 3 negative plays created
There were a lot of zero yard plays for the Rams in this game, both incompletions and unsuccessful rushing attempts, and against a pretty darn good success rate, it probably made all the difference. I think the pass rush is a major factor, and the Skins were just one really stupid roughing the passer call from having four turnovers forced in two games.

While the coverage issues that surfaced at the end of last year still remain, the defense is making things happen when the opponent drops back to pass. If they are not going to be a complete shut-em-down defense, turnovers are the next best thing.
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Old 09-23-2009, 09:40 AM   #2
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Re: Greg Blache gets his revenge: Skins-Rams Defensive Review

Good job GTripp. Your tape review and number crunching are both illuminating.

I think the defense is improving, both in terms of scheme and in terms of do-your-job performance. I expect this improvement to continue. Perhaps when we get into the meat of the schedule, the defense will have gelled and will be truly fearsome.
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Old 09-23-2009, 09:42 AM   #3
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Re: Greg Blache gets his revenge: Skins-Rams Defensive Review

Nice write up. The d have a much better gameplan than we saw in the first game of the season. And yes they won the football game for us. The offense looked bad again. The D is going to have to carry us till we get this thing figured out ( IF we get it figured out ).
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Old 09-23-2009, 09:51 AM   #4
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Re: Greg Blache gets his revenge: Skins-Rams Defensive Review

I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks. Good for you Blache! Nice work GTripp.
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Old 09-23-2009, 09:57 AM   #5
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Re: Greg Blache gets his revenge: Skins-Rams Defensive Review

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Originally Posted by 53Fan View Post
I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks. Good for you Blache! Nice work GTripp.
but can you teach a zorny dog new tricks?
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Old 09-23-2009, 10:43 AM   #6
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Re: Greg Blache gets his revenge: Skins-Rams Defensive Review

D played great last sunday. 7 pts allowed is excellent.
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Old 09-23-2009, 11:17 AM   #7
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Re: Greg Blache gets his revenge: Skins-Rams Defensive Review

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but can you teach a zorny dog new tricks?
I've got a Zorny dog. He's a little Yorkie about 14 years old and he's hung like a horse. Wakes up with wood every morning and when he stands up he tips over from the weight. No lie.
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Old 09-23-2009, 12:58 PM   #8
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Re: Greg Blache gets his revenge: Skins-Rams Defensive Review

GTripp0012, you are invaluable.

Now get in touch with the Skins Offensive coaches and do a review of their next 5 opponents and show them how to win.
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Old 09-23-2009, 01:13 PM   #9
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Re: Greg Blache gets his revenge: Skins-Rams Defensive Review

Awesome, Tripp!

So why is it that we can't play zone pass d? That is a key worry, no doubt. Scheme? Players? Combo of both?
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Old 09-23-2009, 04:15 PM   #10
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Re: Greg Blache gets his revenge: Skins-Rams Defensive Review

i think we've just got to give credit to bulger and his wr's on some of the completions against rogers. bulger is a very accurate passer and he threw some real nice balls before the wr's came out of their breaks. i don't think i've seen campbell do that yet. also real nice jump ball against hall. put it where only the wr could get it. i'm just mad that our playcaller didn't so the same thing back to them when we had the ball in the red zone. oh yeah we ran a half back pass on 3rd down. lol.
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Old 09-23-2009, 04:42 PM   #11
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Re: Greg Blache gets his revenge: Skins-Rams Defensive Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by 53Fan View Post
I've got a Zorny dog. He's a little Yorkie about 14 years old and he's hung like a horse. Wakes up with wood every morning and when he stands up he tips over from the weight. No lie.
that is hilarious
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Old 09-23-2009, 05:01 PM   #12
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Re: Greg Blache gets his revenge: Skins-Rams Defensive Review

"The play was an excellent encapsulation of how Greg Blache went away from the vanilla defensive schemes this week, in a week where the Redskins really needed their defense to step up."

yeah it was nice to see blache do some different things out there. i did not know that golston dropped back in zone on that play, that all happened so fast with skins players doing all type of things, my mind couldnt break down what i was seeing .. . . but i liked it!

how often have we dropped a DL back in zone? i dont think that much but its hard to tell unless you record the game and break things down. i see the ravens do it a good bit and it seems disruptive to those shorter crossing routes by receivers.

go skins!!
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Old 09-23-2009, 10:45 PM   #13
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Re: Greg Blache gets his revenge: Skins-Rams Defensive Review

Nice break down you must watch alot of film.
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Old 09-23-2009, 11:08 PM   #14
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Re: Greg Blache gets his revenge: Skins-Rams Defensive Review

Numbers don't lie. Good insight.
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Old 09-23-2009, 11:32 PM   #15
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Re: Greg Blache gets his revenge: Skins-Rams Defensive Review

Damn Tripp, you just keep getting better and better.
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