Redskins film review: Defense

September, 25, 2013
9/25/13
10:15
AM ET
I'll get into some other things I saw on film throughout the week. Suffice to say that corner DeAngelo Hall competed well and, yes, there were a couple plays he gave up but he did a good job against Calvin Johnson when paired against him. Also, nose tackle Barry Cofield was terrific. He looked like the guy we saw this summer, thanks to the removal of the club. The Detroit Lions threw a lot of short passes and focused on blocking the interior on those plays, allowing Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo free rushes at times -- knowing it would be tough to get home.

But last Sunday's game was mostly about breakdowns leading to big plays. Of Detroit's 441 yards of offense, 270 occurred on 10 plays. In the second half, 114 of their 183 yards came on four plays. For the game, 201 yards occurred on these six plays:

[+] EnlargeCalvin Johnson
AP Photo/Richard LipskiCalvin Johnson was one of several Lions to gash the Redskins secondary for big plays last Sunday.
1. The 23-yard pass to Johnson (third-and-8, first quarter). This one was too easy as the Redskins dropped into a Cover 2 zone. The Redskins rushed three so quarterback Matthew Stafford had plenty of time to find Johnson, running a deep in, about 3 yards in front of safety Brandon Meriweather (he got him to lean outside with a plant). There was too much room in front of Johnson to stop this play -- Kerrigan was about 14 yards in front of him. That's too much wide-open space for Stafford and Johnson.

How drive ended: Punt.

2. The 37-yard pass play to running back Joique Bell (third-and-10, quarter). The Redskins rushed six on the play, including linebacker Perry Riley. Often times he'll rush if the back stays in to block, but on this play his job was to do exactly as he did: blitz. That's a fact. I'm not positive on this, but I think Bell read the blitz and left on his own -- leaving the line with five blockers against six rushers. The left tackle set as if he had outside help from Bell, positioned on that side. When Bell left, Orakpo had a free rush but Stafford unloaded the ball fast so it didn't matter. There was no one within 15 yards of Bell when he caught the ball. Missed tackles tacked on another 27 yards. Tack on a 15-yard penalty on Riley for roughing the passer and this was a killer.

How drive ended: Touchdown.

3. The 20-yard pass play to Johnson (third-and-6, first quarter). The Lions used a stack formation on the left with Johnson set a yard back. Hall still tried to jam him and failed, then stumbled off the line. Johnson rubbed off the other receiver on that side for a deep-in as Hall tried to recover.

How drive ended: Touchdown.

4. The 41-yard gain to receiver Nate Burleson (second-and-14, second quarter). Once again, press coverage. The Redskins did well at times in this look but it was not always successful and when it isn't, teams get burned. David Amerson lost the inside off the line and Burleson gained another yard of separation on the cut inside after about 15 yards. Still, Amerson dove for the ball and turned a good gain into a great one. Burleson ran another 24 yards.

How drive ended: Field goal.

5. The 47-yarder to Burleson (first-and-10, fourth quarter). This was an odd one and was clearly a breakdown. I can't say with 100 percent certainty what should have happened but I know what did happen. So here goes: The Redskins were in zone coverage based on the movements of almost every player. There was no receiver split to the right so Amerson was near the line and about 5 yards off. At the snap, others drop into what looks like a Cover 3. But Amerson sees the tight end on his side start running across the middle and starts to go with him. Meanwhile, Burleson, who started on the left side, runs a deep cross and catches a ball in an uncovered area. If it was indeed a Cover 3, then Amerson would have been back on that side. But I still need to find out for sure. It might have been a good pick up anyway but it became a great one.

How drive ended: Field goal.

6. The 33-yarder to receiver Kris Durham (second-and-9, fourth quarter). Yet another one involving Amerson. The kid made some plays on slants, where his long arms really help. Even if he doesn't get a good jam he's able to reach around and deflect. But he was in press coverage on this one. He did not get a jam on Durham and played him to run what everyone else had all day: a deep-in route. So Amerson cut hard to the inside when Durham planted his foot that way. But this was a great example of saving a play until the fourth, especially against a rookie corner. Durham cut back to the outside to pick up another long gain.

How drive ended: Touchdown.

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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