NFC East: play action

Upon Further Review: Redskins Week 4

September, 30, 2013
9/30/13
2:10
PM ET
A review of four hot issues from the Washington Redskins' 24-14 win against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

[+] EnlargeRoy Helu
AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezRoy Helu showed he could be a solid replacement for injured starting running back Alfred Morris.
Sudden change: After three weeks of Michael Vick and Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford, the Redskins weren't about to complain. Oakland's Matt Flynn was not going to threaten them downfield as much as those quarterbacks, nor did he have the mobility to give them fits as Terrelle Pryor would have. So the Redskins caught a break. However, the defense deserves credit for how it played, holding the Raiders’ offense to one touchdown. Also, the defense handled the sudden-change situations well. The Redskins allowed a fake punt to be converted, giving the Raiders a first down at their own 47-yard line. The defense forced a punt three plays later. In the third quarter, the Redskins turned it over at their own 42. But the defense again held, forcing a missed 52-yard field goal attempt. How big was that? Washington’s offense then drove for the go-ahead touchdown.

Healthy Helu: During the summer, it was clear that running back Roy Helu, finally healthy, could become a weapon on offense. But, because of the lopsided nature of games -- and the inability to keep defenses guessing -- it has been tough to showcase Helu at all. But the Redskins saw what he could do Sunday, particularly in the open field. If running back Alfred Morris (ribs) has to miss any time -- the bye week comes at a good time for him -- the Redskins can still be effective running the ball with Helu. He’s not as patient as Morris and doesn't set up blocks as well, which leads to a lot more 1- and 2-yard gains, but he’ll hit some big ones because of his quick feet and speed. He’s more dangerous in the passing game and his pass protection was solid Sunday, too.

Turnaround game: The big question will be whether or not Sunday’s win signaled the start of something or was a fluke. Both sides of the ball continued to have some issues: third-down passing for the offense and consistency on defense (can they handle a good offense?) They’re fortunate the NFC East is struggling, which buys them some time. Still, they were tested Sunday and passed. Now they just need to win in Dallas after the bye.

Play-action success: Because the Redskins stuck with the ground game and eventually gained control of the game, they were able to use more play-action passes. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Redskins used play-action on 24 percent of their throws in the first three games compared to 42 percent Sunday. Quarterback Robert Griffin III completed 10-of-13 play-action passes for 119 yards. Their offense works best this way.

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