Quick takes: Redskins' offense

November, 12, 2013
11/12/13
6:45
PM ET
Didn’t want to do a full film review because the game is a bit old (though I did a Robert Griffin III one because, well, he’s the quarterback). So this is a mix of observations and overall impressions from the Washington Redskins' 34-27 loss to the Minnesota Vikings
  • Pierre Garcon scares a defense after the catch, something no other receiver on this team really does. He cuts well and plays with suddenness. Leonard Hankerson has a good skill set and can help, but there’s not much suddenness to his game. I’m not sure I’ve seen a Redskins receiver in any recent year have a better run after the catch than Garcon did against the Vikings on his 32-yarder. He made a linebacker miss with a cut, broke two more tackles, ran over a safety and ran through a linebacker. Good thing he’s stayed healthy this season.
  • I loved the play design on the screen to Garcon for a touchdown. They faked a zone read to the right and threw back to the left for Garcon; seven Vikings were moving to the side of the fake quite hard and a couple others were caught leaning. Garcon, with his burst, cut back inside for a touchdown.
  • Hankerson is definitely an improved route runner, but he lacks that burst or quickness. It’s why he can get open, but it’s why defenses don’t fear him.
  • This is hindsight and not a second guess (is there a difference?) but Garcon’s ability to make defenders miss or break a tackle is why I’d go to him on a fourth down play inside the 5. But I still get why Robert Griffin III went to Santana Moss.
  • The interior of the line needs to hold up much better, specifically center Will Montgomery and right guard Chris Chester. There were times when it appeared that the Vikings caught the Redskins in a situation with the center turned to one side and the pressure coming in behind him and through Chester. Kevin Williams won up front quite a bit. This has to get fixed. If the Redskins ever want to develop as a pocket passing team they will need better results from these positions.
  • Chester and Montgomery did have good blocks on Morris’ 26-yard run in the first quarter. But they still need to play better overall. And the Redskins need to do a good job getting their young backups ready, even if it’s for next season. Money can’t buy everything, folks. Sometimes – oftentimes – you must develop your own. Or did everyone forget 1999-2011?
  • It’s not all on them as there were a couple times Griffin failed to throw the ball with open receivers. But three of the sacks were in less than 2.8 seconds and two were under 2.6. That’s the time it took for a defender to start tackling Griffin; in each case he had to tuck the ball first to prepare for the hit. There were times he stood in and delivered a pass while being hit; he does not watch the rush.
  • There was one time in which right tackle Tyler Polumbus was beat inside. However, he set wide which suggests inside help. Chester was doubling inside. Someone was off here.
  • I love watching Jordan Reed work, but he’s still an inconsistent blocker. Sometimes it’s little things, like failing to adequately cut Jared Allen on the backside. Had he done so one time, then Alfred Morris would have turned a five-yard run into perhaps 15. Blocking matters to Reed so in time he’ll get there.
  • Reed did have one block in which he actually failed to get his man on an outside zone to the left. But he turned back and drilled the guy and kept the path clear for Morris. An athletic play.
  • Reed gets open quite a bit.
  • I don’t think the linebacker’s hands ever left Reed on the second and goal pass from the 4-yard line in the fourth quarter.
  • Running back Alfred Morris played one of his best games and some of his best runs didn’t go far. Like his two-yard run in the first quarter in which he should have been dropped for a five yard loss. Jared Allen forced a deep cutback by shooting behind left tackle Trent Williams (other teams have done this; designed to do what Allen did: get penetration. But it can lead to gaps). Allen missed and the safety came up aggressively and missed.
  • I like watching the subtle effects of player alignment and motion. Like on this second quarter nine-yard run by Morris in which Garcon motioned to behind Morris, as if setting up a triple option to the left. That forced the right outside linebacker to widen and focus on Garcon. That enabled Morris to run through the middle and have the linebacker make an arm tackle attempt rather than step in the hole.
  • Morris does an excellent job getting linebackers and others to drift out of position.
  • The Redskins also showed a triple option look in which the option man was Reed, who initially lined up just off right tackle. But at the snap he backpedaled and scooted to his right. Nobody went with him; but Griffin handed off to Morris for two yards. Just something to watch in future games.
  • The Redskins blew this game offensively in the red zone (two times failing to score touchdowns) and on third down in the second half. It wasn’t just because of coverage or pressure as a couple throws didn’t connect; the plays were there. Washington did not do a good job blunting Minnesota’s momentum in the second half.

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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