Redskins film review: Defense

September, 18, 2013
9/18/13
10:15
AM ET
1. For whatever reason, linebacker London Fletcher is getting blocked more than it seemed he did a year ago. Is that a function of him (finally) showing his age and not being able to get off blocks? Anything that goes wrong with Fletcher will be painted that way. Is it the line not holding double teams as long? Is he having to read the play longer? This could be a byproduct of having to play so much nickel defense in the first two games. Regardless, it was an issue Sunday.

[+] EnlargeRandall Cobb
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY SportsMiscommunication and blown assignments in the secondary led to a long day for the Redskins defense Sunday.
2. The problems are many: missed tackles, missed assignments, miscommunication. David Amerson didn’t hear that one coverage had been changed in which he would have been responsible for the deep outside. Instead, he played as if in a Cover 2 and released the receiver to an uncovered area for 57 yards. On Randall Cobb's touchdown, it appears Brandon Meriweather misplayed it, going over to double Jordy Nelson -- which left linebacker Perry Riley chasing the speedy Cobb. And on the last series, the Redskins somehow had three defenders covering two receivers while Cobb, the Packers best receiver, again ran free off that same side. Was safety Reed Doughty out of position running over to help with two guys already covered? Don’t know. I do know that this happened too often and if not for Bacarri Rambo's shoestring tackle the Packers would have scored again.

3. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers took plenty of five-step drops after the first quarter. Rodgers took a five-step drop on his 14-yard touchdown pass to Nelson. By the way, that’s another sloppy play. Either DeAngelo Hall, who appeared to have that half of the field, played too soft or the linebacker on that side, Riley, did not drop far enough. All three linebackers dropped to the same depth, incidentally. That put them about two yards from tight end Jermichael Finley, but it was third-and-goal from the 14 and Finley was around the 10. It left a big window for Rodgers.

4. Rookie linebacker Brandon Jenkins played 13 snaps. On his first snap, Jenkins, in a four-point stance, jumped offside on a third-and-6 thanks to a hard count. That’s what drew him off; he was looking at the ball -- as taught -- but Rodgers got him with his cadence. Veteran quarterbacks will test him every time.

5. Amerson was beaten in man coverage on one play in which he could have been called for a hold on receiver James Jones. When Jones gave him a stutter step, Amerson looked back at the quarterback -- and that gave Jones the opening to speed past him. Coaches always say: Keep your eyes on your work. Amerson admitted peeking back at the quarterback in college last season. This time the pass fell incomplete. No doubt he’ll be tested again. I like talking to Amerson because he understands that he’s still learning. Growing pains.

6. I like the way corner Josh Wilson disguises his blitzes from the slot. Wilson rushed free on his sack because he didn’t tip his intention, eyeing the receiver until the snap (Hall usually peeked inside), and then having a lane created by Brian Orakpo rushing upfield and Fletcher rushing at the guard.

7. A year ago the Redskins tackled well and caused turnovers, helping them eventually overshadow their sins. This year? They’re not creating turnovers (one) and they’re giving up too many extra yards from missed tackles. The secondary has been bad at this and Doughty struggled here Sunday as much as anyone. But he was far from the lone culprit and it was an issue before he even entered the game.

8. Here’s an example of the impact on the misses: Amerson missed a tackle on Jones that would have left Green Bay with a third-and-7. Instead, Jones gained 17 extra yards and it became first-and-10 at the Redskins’ 15. Another one: Three players missed Finley after a short catch -- Doughty grabbed at one leg and missed, Wilson missed him five yards later along the sideline, and Rambo missed him six yards later. Finley is big so factor that in, but a good first tackle and it’s second-and-7. Instead it was first-and-10 from the Redskins’ 33.

9. Ryan Kerrigan had a good first quarter, obviously, with two sacks -- showing excellent strength on the first in pushing back the tackle with his right hand. The second was an example of how they hoped things would go. Orakpo drove the left tackle back and Jenkins did the same on the right side, even getting doubled. Kerrigan was aligned just off the ball between Barry Cofield and Orakpo. Right before the snap, Cofield shifted from between the center and left guard to over the center. So when he shot inside to his right, the center stayed with him, freeing a lane on a twist for Kerrigan through the middle. Everyone else collapsed the pocket and Kerrigan eventually corralled Rodgers.

10. Why didn’t Rambo get over to Nelson in time on a third-quarter touchdown? I have not talked to Rambo since Sunday and he initially felt he played that one well. He was in deep middle and took a couple steps to that side before the snap. But Nelson had earlier scored on a post and Rambo had to hesitate a little bit as he ran to his left off the snap to see Nelson’s intentions. Rodgers then made an excellent throw.

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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