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One Night Only: Offensive Packers-Redskins Game Review, Mythbusters Edition

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Old 09-16-2013, 07:28 PM   #1
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One Night Only: Offensive Packers-Redskins Game Review, Mythbusters Edition

Felt like this was necessary today. Not so much based on the Warpath's reaction to yesterday's lost, but the media scrutiny on the team is reaching an unproductive level, and the rosy narratives from the preseason that weren't based on anything of substance have turned sour -- though they remain without substance.

I have a relatively small platform that I am going to use to set the record straight for those who are interested in deeper analysis. I'm not going to fight a war against the crazies: the narrative is still going to win the day. I'm just trying to save a few people some trouble by writing this.

Coaches Tape isn't yet available, so I've done pretty much all this off the broadcast feed. I'm not going to be telling you what percentage cover two the Redskins played. Sorry.

Redskins Myth #1: RG3 isn't 100% healthy and he's hurting the team by playing

This is probably the largest, most aggressive myth about the start to the Redskins season, because you neither need to be a Redskins fan or have watched either of their games this year to hold this opinion. But if you did watch the first half of the Eagles game, and know the Redskins started 0-2, you probably feel very strongly about this.

Futhermore, there are no shortage of people who will go on TV and basically vouch for this conclusion. These are the worst kind of people: analysts who get money to go on TV and be poor analysts. I'd be a hypocrite if I told you don't listen to anything you hear, but at least consider the source.

I can't tell you whether Griffin is 100%. I suspect that from an explosive, sprinter/athlete type of perspective, Griffin isn't going to be like that all year, if ever again. But we don't pay him to be an olympic sprinter, we pay him to be a quarterback. And from the perspective of quarterback, who dealt with injuries and quarterbacked -- he's good. He's healthy. The ball comes out with excellent velocity from a clean pocket. But if you have a Twitter account and follow Redskins beat reporters like John Keim et al, you already knew that, and aren't going to change your mind because of some mouthbreather on television (or four).

Which leads us to the seemingly more glaring issue:

Redskins Myth #2: RG3 has really struggled with throwing from the pocket in both games this season

I mean, if you slipped into a coma at halftime of the Eagles game and awoke from that coma specifically to read this article, 1) thank you and feel better soon, 2) you'd pretty much have nothing to throw you off that conclusion.

For the rest of us, it just depends if you know what you are looking at. Griffin has forced a lot more balls into tight coverage (sometimes foolishly) the first two games, and has shown a general lack of patience. He's also left very, very few plays on the field in that time.

Griffin's biggest issues are consistent with last season, well before the injury. He's struggling at times to move though his progressions with the pocket collapsing around him. His timing from the shotgun short passing game isn't good, and this can affect his accuracy. He's relatively short for a quarterback, and sometimes doesn't get a clear picture of the defense on half field reads. All of these issues are consistent with last year when he won offfensive rookie of the year. In a lot of ways, he's actually more advanced as a pocket passer now than he was last year, against all odds (you do have to throw out the first half of both games to see statistical evidence of this, which is not something I suggest you do).

The single, and possibly only, biggest difference in RG3 2013 and 2012 has nothing to do with throwing from the pocket. It's as a runner, and more generally, extending plays. Griffin has simply not been effective through two games when forced to extend a play. He hasn't risen beyond all reasonable expectation to save a crumbling team. He's mixed it up between throwing the ball away and forcing a pass to a covered receiver. And it's led to underwhelming results, which should not be a surprise.

Overall, Griffin was 26 of 40 for 320 yards, 2 TDs and a pick against Green Bay. If he has that game in a losing effort in October of last season, before the seven game winning streak raised expectations, we're talking about how advanced he is for his age. Dude is 23 years old.

Redskins Myth #3: RG3 is afraid to keep on the Read Option and Kyle Shanahan is not calling it because he is afraid Griffin will get hurt

Kyle Shanahan didn't call the read option as much as you probably remember last year. It was devastatingly effective when he did call it, but he used it carefully last year. He's doing the same this year. I don't think he's sequencing as well this year, and the defenses aren't playing nearly as scared against us this year as they were last year, and Kyle deserves real blame for this. But this isn't a read option issue.

In the handful of read options Griffin has been given this year, somewhere between 4-6 depending on how you define the play, Griffin has handed off every time.

He's made the right read every time. Alfred Morris is averaging better than 5.0 YPC this year on the read option, again, depending on how you define the play.

This is how disciplined teams defend the read option. You force the quarterback to give the football to the back, and you try to make up the numbers in the running game with safeties filling the hole.

I wish Kyle Shanahan would call the RO a lot more than he does, because it's one less defender Morris has to worry about. But Griffin is not going to get to keep very often against disciplined defenses. That's because the quickest way to get gashed on the read option is to let the quarterback outside contain. Making Griffin give to Morris on the option is choosing death by a thousand papercuts as opposed to having Griffin keep on the option, which is quick and painless.

Redskins "Myth" #4: Forget the Read Option. Kyle Shanahan hasn't called any designed runs for RG3. You mean to tell me he's not using his mobility as a weapon at ALL?

Well, pretty much, yeah. This is not a myth. Kyle and Mike have been a bit protective of RG3 -- and by extension themselves -- at the expensive of the team. But this is a minor reason, not a major reason, the Redskins are 0-2.

So wait, if the Redskins offense talent is capable of attacking and constraining defenses the way Philadelphia and Green Bay have done to ours...why have we struggled so poorly in back to back first halves?

So happy you asked, straw man Redskins fan!

The Redskins have done a number of silly things over the last (insert timeframe you are comfortable with here, not exceeding four years) with their personnel and it's lead to some real, undeniable offensive issues.

The pass protection has been a bit of an issue through two games, although the five starters on the OL are all playing better than they did last year. The Redskins have faced a high pct of blitzes from Green Bay and Philadelphia. Last year, teams hardly ever blitzed RG3, because they were terrified he would break contain and beat them down the field with his legs and arm. Combine that with a run heavy offense out of the pistol, and we never really found out how Griffin handled the blitz last year.

Early returns on that this year aren't good. But the real issue is not about Griffin, or the offensive line (our TEs and backs have done a crappy job picking up blitzes, and that's accounted for more than half of the hits on RG3 this season). It's about a total difference in how teams are defending the Redskins. Specifically, man to man coverage with a high safety.

Last year, teams preferred to zone cover the Redskins, because it allowed their defense to keep 11 sets of eyes on RG3. This year, the Eagles went with a lot more man coverage against the Redskins than they had done last season, and enjoyed some success. Cary Williams picking off RG3 in the second half was a great example of a route you expect a Redskins receiver to win on vs. a mediocre corner, combined with a noodle-armed throw, turning a Redskins first down into an Eagles INT and short field.

The Packers though are a zone coverage team, and so when they are playing man coverage on your receivers, they simply don't respect them. With Casey Heyward out, I didn't think GB could or should try to man cover the Redskins.

They did. And they won decisively. Josh Morgan can't separate from anyone. Garcon can and did, but he's inconsistent in doing so. But the guy the lack of zone coverage really hurts is Santana Moss, whose one remaining NFL skill is finding the void in zone coverage before it closes. That was the Redskins go-to on third down last year, now that teams are man covering Washington on third downs, Moss just gets engulfed by whoever is covering him. He's erased from the pattern. Garcon's routes are inconsistent. And too often, the coached leave Hankerson and Fred Davis (!) on the bench on third down with Paulsen and Morgan on the field instead. Bad moves.

Griffin is going to have to pick up some first downs with his feet before the Redskins start seeing a stead diet of zone coverage again, and the offensive line has allowed him to be pinned inside the pocket a bit. The real issue on third down has been the blitz: we're not picking it up, and our receivers aren't freeing up. In the event that one or both of those things happen, there's a good chance the Redskins lined up illegally or held or something that will bring it back.

It's kinda like the 2010 season all over again, from a talent, usage perspective. The Redskins issues are correctable to an extent, but it's not going to be enough to just throw Jordan Reed out there and hope for the best. Reed, Hankerson, Robinson, Helu, and Garcon can all beat man to man coverage quickly on third down, and so the Redskins need to get players who can't or won't (like Josh Morgan) off the field to give themselves enough options to move the chains.

That is what is ailing the offense right now.
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Old 09-16-2013, 07:33 PM   #2
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Re: One Night Only: Offensive Packers-Redskins Game Review, Mythbusters Edition

TLDR version: Griffin is throwing the ball pretty well from the pocket and is getting the Redskins lots of yards and points because that's what good QBs do.

He's turning the ball over at an increased rate and struggling to convert first downs because his teammates suck. Also the coaching has been less than stellar, but you knew that already.
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Old 09-16-2013, 07:50 PM   #3
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Re: One Night Only: Offensive Packers-Redskins Game Review, Mythbusters Edition

doesn't debasing myths require facts? i see a lot of opinions, besides the uncouched, garbage time stats for griffin in an out of reach game.
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Old 09-16-2013, 08:06 PM   #4
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Re: One Night Only: Offensive Packers-Redskins Game Review, Mythbusters Edition

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doesn't debasing myths require facts? i see a lot of opinions, besides the uncouched, garbage time stats for griffin in an out of reach game.
Generally speaking, yeah, there'd be a lot more stats in a piece like this.

But everybody's dealing in small sample size theatre, and the main takeaways are that we can make observable conclusions using last year as a guide. But if we don't use any guide, then it amounts to throwing crap against a wall and hoping it sticks.

More generally, this isn't about facts vs opinions, its about observation vs absence of observation.
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Old 09-16-2013, 08:09 PM   #5
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Re: One Night Only: Offensive Packers-Redskins Game Review, Mythbusters Edition

Love the write up.

Positivity is needed at a time like this with the real possibility of being a 1 or zero win team at the bye week.
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Old 09-16-2013, 08:09 PM   #6
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Re: One Night Only: Offensive Packers-Redskins Game Review, Mythbusters Edition

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doesn't debasing myths require facts? i see a lot of opinions, besides the uncouched, garbage time stats for griffin in an out of reach game.
I was reading the first paragraph and started thinking the same thing. I was hoping for some sort of quick film or pictures.. When I watch the games, I see a totally different thing. I see Griffin throwing sidearm while running out of the pocket, not planting his back foot when releasing, struggling to reach corners when scrambling out so easily like last year, faking the handoff to the wrong side and forgetting the play, bobbling several snaps, and staring down receivers on 3rd down.

All these are fixable, and i'm 100% positive RG3 will be back to dynamic soon enough.

Although, he doesn't have a grove right now, and it's obvious.. You can add his "stats" and try to argue, but ANYONE who's watching the game can tell our offense is not meshing very well at the moment and it starts at QB.

This just looks like a bunch of opinionated responses followed by saying "I watched the film, so it's true"

Basically........ Typical Gtripp stuff here.

I was really hoping to read something useful here too.

EDIT : "A" for effort though, because this may the most positive thing you've said about the Redskins in over a decade.
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Old 09-16-2013, 08:17 PM   #7
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Re: One Night Only: Offensive Packers-Redskins Game Review, Mythbusters Edition

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Originally Posted by Bucket View Post
I was reading the first paragraph and started thinking the same thing. I was hoping for some sort of quick film or pictures.. When I watch the games, I see a totally different thing. I see Griffin throwing sidearm while running out of the pocket, not planting his back foot when releasing, struggling to reach corners when scrambling out so easily like last year, faking the handoff to the wrong side and forgetting the play, bobbling several snaps, and staring down receivers on 3rd down.

All these are fixable, and i'm 100% positive RG3 will be back to dynamic soon enough.

Although, he doesn't have a grove right now, and it's obvious.. You can add his "stats" and try to argue, but ANYONE who's watching the game can tell our offense is not meshing very well at the moment and it starts at QB.

This just looks like a bunch of opinionated responses followed by saying "I watched the film, so it's true"

Basically........ Typical Gtripp stuff here.

I was really hoping to read something useful here too.

EDIT : "A" for effort though, because this may the most positive thing you've said about the Redskins in over a decade.
I don't think asking for pictures or short vids is an unreasonable request. I might work on that on a blog (not that the story wouldn't be the same), but in general, anything on the WP is going to be write-up only, because of the format.

Like, I could grab a GIF of the Cary Williams INT, but we've all seen the play, so the description is adequate.
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Old 09-16-2013, 09:20 PM   #8
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Re: One Night Only: Offensive Packers-Redskins Game Review, Mythbusters Edition

I think it's a myth that Aikman is unbiased - especially with the Redskins.

Aikman concluded quickly after Meriweather went down that his season was over. Doesn't actually debunk the myth, but makes you wonder. Wishful thinking maybe?

Aikman was probably visualizing Lavar Arrington in Meriweather's place.
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Old 09-16-2013, 09:41 PM   #9
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Re: One Night Only: Offensive Packers-Redskins Game Review, Mythbusters Edition

I know this is off topic but the one buzzword/phrase that everyone uses that gets on my nerves is - sample size. That buzzword always reminds me of food servers at a mall food court giving away little bite sized food samples with toothpicks.

An entire game, by definition, cannot be a sample. A sample is supposed to be a portion of something that is meant to represent the whole. I can see a series being a sample of a game, but what does a "sample size" really consist of?
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Old 09-16-2013, 09:45 PM   #10
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Re: One Night Only: Offensive Packers-Redskins Game Review, Mythbusters Edition

I have a feeling "not much of a sample size" really means: "I'm holding off on what I think because I may be wrong" or "disclaimer: I may be wrong so don't hold me to this".
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Old 09-16-2013, 09:50 PM   #11
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Re: One Night Only: Offensive Packers-Redskins Game Review, Mythbusters Edition

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I know this is off topic but the one buzzword/phrase that everyone uses that gets on my nerves is - sample size. That buzzword always reminds me of food servers at a mall food court giving away little bite sized food samples with toothpicks.

An entire game, by definition, cannot be a sample. A sample is supposed to be a portion of something that is meant to represent the whole. I can see a series being a sample of a game, but what does a "sample size" really consist of?
"Sample size" is a statistical term which describes how small or large a data set is. If you ask one mall food server what they think of the Redskins, the sample size is one. If you ask the same question of three mall food servers, the sample size is three.

If someone says, "The sample size is small," that means that there weren't enough instances to draw a strong conclusion.
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Old 09-16-2013, 09:56 PM   #12
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Re: One Night Only: Offensive Packers-Redskins Game Review, Mythbusters Edition

So is RG3 now as healthy as he's ever going to get, or not?

And why haven't we run the read option as much as we used to? I don't mean the times where Griff keeps it, I mean running the RO period.
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Old 09-16-2013, 10:00 PM   #13
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Maybe others have asked i dont know. Why does it seem like our offense has to be either the read option, designed run stuff or making Griff a pocket passer ? Why cant we roll him out several times a game and let him either throw or run based on what he sees? I mean even if he isnt 100% he is still more mobile than most qb's. Rolling him out also would not subject him to the punishment of the ro. Sort of a conventional run/pass happy medium is what im looking for. Why is it all or nothing?
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Old 09-16-2013, 10:00 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warriorzpath View Post
I know this is off topic but the one buzzword/phrase that everyone uses that gets on my nerves is - sample size. That buzzword always reminds me of food servers at a mall food court giving away little bite sized food samples with toothpicks.

An entire game, by definition, cannot be a sample. A sample is supposed to be a portion of something that is meant to represent the whole. I can see a series being a sample of a game, but what does a "sample size" really consist of?
One game represents a part of the whole season.
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Old 09-16-2013, 10:03 PM   #15
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Re: One Night Only: Offensive Packers-Redskins Game Review, Mythbusters Edition

... I don't think football or NFL experts are using that term correctly but whatever- it will continue to get on my nerves.

Another pet peeve is attaching "gate" to an nfl incident to represent a scandal like Bounty-gate or Spy-gate. "Gate" comes from the political scandal known as Watergate. Watergate was a facility where the scandal took place and not a scandal involving water. But Bountygate was a bounty scandal and Spygate was a spying scandal.
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