- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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Thoughts and observations on the offense after rewatching the Redskins-Cowboys game:
The line had way too many issues against Dallas’ front. But the problem is that the interior’s struggles come against the sort of players Dallas has in its line: bigger, physical players. It’s not that they outweighed the Redskins’ front by a lot, but Jason Hatcher, for example, is 6-foot-6, 299 pounds. He’s a strong man, too. That’s why the Redskins’ game plan was to get them running side to side and tire them out. It didn’t work. Once again: This group is best on the move and using play-action. But the receivers need to help by winning more battles against man coverage.
I wrote Sunday that Kory Lichtensteiger was off to a good start. Dallas was not his best game. Both he and right guard Chris Chester had tough nights. They both tried to attack the tackles at times and saw it backfire. But mostly it was about physics. In general, the line did not hold its second-level blocks well either.
On one play in the red zone, it took four Redskins blockers to handle the Cowboys' tackles. End DeMarcus Ware moved inside against tight end Jordan Reed to make the tackle. Alfred Morris would not have gained a lot on this play, but the ability of Dallas’ front to hold the double-team was impressive.
Center Will Montgomery needs to finish his block on linebacker Sean Lee in the first quarter; it would have a led to a Robert Griffin III touchdown. But you also have to give Lee a ton of credit for the play he made. That guy is underrated. Anyway, he slid to avoid the cut block, started to the ground, balanced himself with his left hand, bounced up and wrapped up Griffin.
Josh Morgan is turning into a poor man’s James Thrash with his expanded special-teams duties (he’s not nearly as good as Thrash on special teams, of course). And when he’s in the game it seems like he’s mostly asked to block. Just like Thrash.
I wish I had an answer for why there seems to be so many times when Griffin will turn one way and the running back will go the other. It happened again Sunday. A draw play was delayed, too. Griffin turned to hand it off but Morris was not yet coming forward. I don’t care whose fault it is; it’s just sloppy.
This is not a matchup I would want again. The Redskins ran a failed screen pass to Roy Helu in the fourth quarter, in which receiver Leonard Hankerson motioned to the backfield and had to block the defensive end. Guess the result: Hankerson got moved back a couple yards and bumped into Helu. Because of that, the screen was delayed and resulted in an incompletion.
I love watching Reed get open off the line in man coverage; it’s probably the thing that jumped out at me the most in training camp. I do want one question answered about him in zone coverage. There was one pass that eventually was batted away by Lee in zone. He did not find the soft spot.
The Redskins showed their full-house pistol look (or diamond formation) with Reed and Fred Davis both in the backfield. They ran out of this set, with both players pulling; eventually they will pass out of it. They need to find a way to get Davis more involved in the passing game. If they could find throws for Niles Paul last season, they can find some for Davis this year.
Reed and Davis helped clear the outside on one Morris run; he helped by pressing the outside, but both Reed and Davis controlled their blocks, with Davis on the end. Reed works really hard when he blocks. He’s not perfect, but he seems to concentrate hard on this role. Liked how he used his feet to get an edge on Lee on one screen to Santana Moss. And I liked how Reed stayed low and balanced as he ran to block the safety.
Morris didn’t have a great night, but he did an excellent job selling the play-side run on his touchdown. It’s still something Helu does not do as well; too bad you couldn’t combine Morris’ patience with Helu’s burst. Anyway, Morris got the linebackers to flow hard to that side, allowing Montgomery to block Lee and left tackle Trent Williams to cut another linebacker and then Lichtensteiger to seal the inside. You can also see an example of Morris looking past his next cut. After he makes his first cut and is into the second level, he’s eyeing the green grass ahead and not the closing defensive backs, both of whom missed.
Pierre Garcon showed his frustration a bit too often, with hands on hips after several misses or with gestures. But I’d never extinguish that fire. On one play, cornerback Brandon Carr was about 15 yards from the ball. As he jogged to contain the backside Garcon engaged him hard and blocked him that way until the whistle.
On the dropped interception by safety Barry Church, a reason why Lee was in Griffin’s face on the throw: Helu’s inability to pick him up. Helu did not square him up in the hole, giving Lee a chance to run through him. Garcon was open, too.
Didn’t like the separation the receivers got against man coverage. Against some corners Garcon is able to box them out for the ball, but that was harder to do with Carr (6-foot, 206 pounds). I wrote about this play in my RG III report, but I left out one part: On the failed out route to Garcon in the fourth quarter (just before the missed field goal), the ball was delivered late. But Garcon did not get Carr to bite on an inside stem and therefore was covered.
1dJohn Keim and Adam Caplan