Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Redskins Film Review: The run game
By John Keim
1. I know the Giants were trying to take Alfred Morris away; it was evident watching Sunday night and even more so when watching the game again. On the read-option, for example, most eyes usually were on Morris. The ends would crash hard at him and the linebackers would sit in the hole. They forced Robert Griffin III to keep the ball every time. They usually positioned eight defenders in the box, though they were creative with the safeties. At times Antrel Rolle would be up, then backpedal at the snap while Will Allen raced up on the other side. Or Rolle would be aligned in the slot on the left only to drop to deep middle while Allen rotated.
The Giants' defensive focus this past Sunday night was clear -- stop Washington RB Alfred Morris.
2. Having said that, it’s not the first time a team focused hard on Morris. Sometimes you just need to impose your will (if you don’t think you can, then is that a problem?). I understand that they weren’t converting third downs and I don’t always subscribe to the got-away-from-the-run-too-early mantra. You always have to look at why the game unfolded a certain way. They still ran the ball Sunday night until the final drive. This was about one of the NFL’s best rushers only touching the ball for two official carries in the second half of a close game. The Redskins' five runs after Morris’ final carry gained 17 yards – and 10 came on a triple-option toss to Santana Moss.
3. Still, there were issues in the run game so it’s easy to see why the coaches weren’t confident in certain calls (though Morris’ two runs in the second half gained 15 yards and a third, called back for holding, managed six).
4. One play in particular showed how much they missed Darrel Young. It’s tough to knock Evan Royster, who was out of position as a fullback. But he whiffed on a block on an outside zone to Alfred Morris. Had Royster blocked or even obstructed the safety, then the outside was set up for a strong gain, thanks to blocks by tight end Logan Paulsen, left tackle Trent Williams and receiver Pierre Garcon. Instead, it turned into a two-yard loss.
5. I saw one time that Morris really had an issue with the turf, slipping on a cut. But he still gained four yards on the third-quarter play.
6. The Redskins did not do a good job of getting to the second level in this game, sometimes because of how the front played them and other times because they just failed to get there in time. There was one time when left tackle Trent Williams failed to block linebacker Jon Beason because the end shoved him as he stepped off the line. A potential solid run by Griffin was then lost because Beason slid over to force him outside into a one-yard gain. Paulsen and Garcon had their men blocked. Another time guard Kory Lichtensteiger was held by the lineman that he and Williams were doubling. But overall the Giants’ linebackers were too clean.
7. The problem in the stretch-zone scheme is that you need everyone to block well. When they do, big plays result. But if guys on the outside aren’t holding blocks or if linemen can’t get off their double teams then it won’t go well. The Redskins had too much of the negative scenario – and it was far from just the line’s fault.
8. There were missed blocks all over the place. You have to keep in mind that the Giants defense isn’t bad so they’re going to get off blocks. Tight end Fred Davis missed a couple blocks, including on the second play of the game when, had he sealed Beason, a two-yard run would have probably gone for 10. Davis missed a handful of blocks; I know, he hasn’t played a lot and perhaps there was some rust. That’s fine. He still missed the blocks. If you want to prove a point, then go out and play that way. Logan Paulsen has missed some too in recent weeks. But he still helped on multiple plays in this area.
9. I heard former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley talk about center Will Montgomery’s line calls. One thing that’s been easy to notice is how often the line seems to be confused by a blitz or stunt this season. That didn’t happen as often last year, but the Redskins did not see as many “exotic” calls as they have this season. Somehow Justin Tuck ended up free Sunday to get one of his four sacks. On a zone-read play-action fake in the fourth quarter, the corner blitzed from the left side and was picked up by right tackle Tyler Polumbus. Right guard Chris Chester had pulled to the left and Montgomery and Lichtensteiger were doubling another lineman. And Tuck, amazingly, had a free run to Robert Griffin III. Tuck dominated the right side, shooting inside Chester for a sack. Another time he knocked Polumbus to the ground with a hard jab off the snap. He played the zone-read well. Just a fantastic game.
10. Royster was not able to create much push for himself at the line in short yardage situations; again, he’s out of place at fullback. On his first third-and-short, Giants tackle Mike Patterson knocked Lichtensteiger into Royster, which didn’t help.
11. Pierre Garcon had a shot at an excellent gain on the bubble screen during the last drive Sunday night. But Moss lost his block and Garcon was tackled after five yards. Had Moss maintained his block, there was a little alley for Garcon.