Up-tempo Bills a good test for Redskins' D

August, 23, 2013
8/23/13
10:30
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It’s not the same offense; it is a similar pace. When the Redskins play host to Buffalo on Saturday, they won’t receive a carbon copy look of their first opponent. But they will learn how to defend a fast-break offense.

Both the Bills and Washington’s first opponent, Philadelphia, want to run as many plays as possible.

Buffalo ran 85 plays in its preseason opener and 78 in the second game. By comparison, Washington’s first two opponents, Tennessee and Pittsburgh, ran 55 and 68 plays, respectively.

“It’ll be a good test to see our conditioning and see where we’re at with everything,” Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said.

The Bills will run the no-huddle out of every personnel grouping, Haslett said. They also run a lot of packaged plays in which only the quarterback knows whether he’ll hand off or throw. On those plays, the offensive line will run-block, and the running back will hit the hole expecting to get the ball. But if the quarterback receives a certain look by the defense, he will instead throw the ball.

The trick, though, is to learn how to substitute and get lined up within 13 or 14 seconds after the last play ends.

“Referees are barely getting the ball down for them to reset,” Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “I’m glad we have them on the preseason schedule.”

The Redskins’ coaches have been looking at film of Oregon to see what Eagles coach Chip Kelly ran. They’ve also broken down film of the Eagles’ preseason games. The players, though, have not spent time on Philadelphia, at least not as a group.

But the Redskins have worked defending a faster paced offense this week.

“We’re working up-tempo in practice, but to get live game reps against it is crucial,” Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. “It will be good for us from a conditioning and a mental standpoint to know what to expect come Week 1.”

But Kerrigan already knows the challenges. He faced Oregon twice while at Purdue. The Boilermakers lost 32-26 in two overtimes in 2008, and 38-36 a year later.

He remembers the issues.

“In some cases you want to get the nickel defense out there, and in some cases you want the base defense out there,” he said. “It’s tough to make substitutions when you’re going full throttle, full speed ... It doesn’t allow the defense to get the personnel you want.”

And Kerrigan remembers the lessons learned.

“The biggest thing to do is communicate, because if you can get lined up right and have everyone on the same page from a scheme standpoint, that’s most of the battle right there,” he said. “You have to get lined up quick. That’s when they make their big plays, with guys standing up, looking around saying 'what’s the call?' Then boom, they run the play.”

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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