Redskins Film Review: Defense

How the Washington Redskins' defense dominated the Oakland Raiders' passing attack and recorded seven sacks:

A couple quick thoughts first:

*Safety Brandon Meriweather played an excellent game, certainly his best of the season (which means it's the best of his Redskins' tenure since he never played a full game in 2012). He covered his area well -- he was not always deep middle. At times he was part of disguised coverage, showing a two-deep look that rotated into a cover-3. What I liked: his tackle on Rashad Jennings on the third-and-2 pass in the second quarter. For a guy who has been maligned for the way he tackles, it was a perfect hit. Meriweather ran through Jennings and prevented a first down. Just a nice hit. He tackled well all game.

*It's hard to imagine any nose tackles playing better than Barry Cofield the past two weeks (minus the club). The guy gets double teamed quite a bit, yet beats them and also turns and makes plays downfield. Like this one: He beat a double team only to have Matt Flynn pass to a back (still behind the line). Cofield immediately turned and ran and jumped in on the tackle seven yards downfield. Another time he was being driven to his right when another blocker tried to cut him. Without even looking, Cofield hopped over the cut attempt, then shed the block to get in on the stop.

*Flynn definitely held the ball a long time, but there was a reason: The Raiders, with a bad line and a pocket quarterback, opted for numerous long routes. On most of the Redskins' sacks, there typically was at most one receiver looking back at the quarterback. It wasn't just because the Raiders were suddenly throwing long; they did some of the same concepts earlier in the game. Also, only three sacks occurred when the Redskins led.

*Now, here's how the Redskins got their seven sacks:

  1. Third and 4, Washington 44 (first quarter). The Redskins rushed four and played zone coverage, showing a cover-3 look. Flynn did have a receiver open underneath, about a yard from the sticks with linebacker London Fletcher about five yards away. Flynn held the ball, perhaps because Cofield had shoved a double team back and was in his vision. That gave Brian Orakpo time to get the sack after 3.7 seconds.

  2. First and 10, Oakland 38 (second quarter). A true team sack, though Darryl Tapp received the credit for being near Flynn as he ran out of bounds. Once more, a four-man rush with a three-deep zone. Nobody was open, though he had a shot at Rod Streater on a dig on the right side; he was about seven yards behind Ryan Kerrigan and five yards in front of corner DeAngelo Hall. He left the pocket in 4.3 seconds.

  3. Third and 6, Washington 47 (second quarter). A four-man rush out of their nickel package, with Ryan Kerrigan in a four-point stance. Seven in coverage; four Raiders running routes. It allowed the Redskins to double players such as Streater, which they did with E.J. Biggers underneath and Hall over the top. When Flynn was sacked, only one receiver was looking back at him. Kerrigan and Cofield combined to make this play work. Right tackle Tony Pashos set wide against Kerrigan, who then shot inside. The right guard could not pick him up because Cofield engaged him. Kerrigan leveled Flynn in 2.3 seconds.

  4. Second and 12, Oakland 29 (third quarter). The only time where the Redskins used more than four rushers, showing man coverage with a single-high safety. Again, a combination effort here as no receiver was open (only one had turned around when Flynn was sacked). Orakpo and Kerrigan applied pressure on the edge, pinching Flynn. Cofield started to the center's right. When Stefan Wisniewski leaned that way off the snap, Cofield shot to the other side and shoved through the left guard to sack Flynn in 2.8 seconds.

  5. Third and 18, Oakland 23 (third quarter). One play later, this time off a three-man rush (Cofield dropped to cover a checkdown). Man coverage with safety help. Orakpo made this play, continuing a fantastic game. The left tackle, Khalif Barnes, over-extended his arms and had them too wide. Mistake. Orakpo drove into him, almost upending him. Barnes should have received credit for half a sack since he was in on the tackle after being driven into Flynn. Time: 3.1 seconds.

  6. Third and 8, Oakland 30 (fourth quarter). Four-man rush with a single high safety. The Redskins played press-man coverage; this time all the receivers were looking back at the quarterback. Nobody was open ... except, perhaps, Streater split wide right against Hall. Flynn started to throw to him -- if he was open it wasn't by much but others would definitely have thrown the ball -- but pulled it down. Meanwhile, Cofield and Kerrigan ran another game. Cofield took the right guard outside and ran into Pashos, freeing Kerrigan to slip back inside. Flynn ran up and to his right to evade Kerrigan when Cofield turned and pounced for the sack (3.6 seconds).

  7. Second and 6, Oakland 49 (fourth quarter). Another four-man rush with a man-zone combination in coverage. This was all Kerrigan as he beat Pashos to the outside (much like training camp). Kerrigan got low and Pashos could not get that low. It also helped that Kedric Golston had driven the guard back. Nobody was open, though he could have dumped it to running back Rashad Jennings (against linebacker Perry Riley). Time: 3.1 seconds.