Redskins film review: Defense

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Redskins Confidential,Sports,John Keim

Real life keeps intruding on film study. Studs and Duds takes a lot longer and it’s too late in the week already, so this will suffice. One Stud for sure: Kerrigan. A would-have-been Dud: Madieu Williams. What about DeAngelo Hall? Well, read on. 

Ryan Kerrigan: This was one of his best games in a while. Kerrigan was active in both the run and pass games. Kerrigan’s best success since early in the season as a rusher has come when he’s moved around or when he simply doesn’t try to rush to the outside all the time. I will say, his one pressure of Joe Flacco in the red zone in the second quarter occurred not as much because of his rush but because of a quarterback decision. The Ravens’ offensive line, including tackle Michael Oher, were set to run block. The left guard pulled and was a few yards downfield when the pass was thrown. Oher set as if he wanted to cut Kerrigan off from pursuing backside. But when Flacco didn’t hand the ball off, Kerrigan had a free lane. Kerrigan had another good rush vs. Oher (yes, he rushed a number of times from the right side) in the first half, driving him into the backfield.

There were a few impressive plays: Kerrigan was double-teamed on a run in which his right shoulder was upfield and he was facing the sidelines. Yet he managed to move the tackle back and cause him to bump into Rice. Kerrigan stood up tight end Billy Bajema and helped Perry Riley make a tackle for a two-yard gain. Kerrigan’s leverage was terrific and he got off the block quickly. Finally, and what made him Stud-worthy, was another rush in overtime. On third and 6, Kerrigan rushed from the right side. But he timed the snap perfectly and had momentum going forward. He drove the guard back into Flacco. With a blitz coming from the outside, Flacco had no choice but to try and run left. He was stopped short of the first down.

Madieu Williams: Safeties must read the quarterback to try and determine their intentions, but Williams was burned a couple times by keeping his eyes too long on Joe Flacco. Both times resulted in a touchdown and both times DeAngelo Hall was involved as well. The first time was harder to understand. There was one receiver to the side Williams was cheating and, in fact, was supposed to be helping on (Hall said they had a double team). But Williams let himself be influenced, albeit briefly, by a pump fake on an Anquan Boldin double move. On Boldin’s TD catch in the second quarter Williams was deep middle and Flacco moved him to the right by looking that way off the snap. By the time he threw back to Boldin, the inside receiver on the right, Williams was too out of position to help. Hall was beaten, but there was no help. Williams also missed too many tackles (unofficially four, with another one on a penalty). Sometimes it was an improper angle, sometimes just a miss – on a Torrey Smith catch and run it was both; he came too far inside then tried to launch into him with a shoulder tackle. It didn’t work.

Williams needs to be more disciplined when deep. It’s one thing if you’re not  fast, but it’s another when you’re not fast and get yourself out of position. I don’t care who the coordinator is, it’s tough to overcome that sort of combination. The Redskins’ D once fared well with Vernon Fox at safety

Here’s what defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said about reading the QB’s eyes:

“No. 1, if you’re playing straight zone defense, you shouldn’t leave until the ball leaves the quarterback’s hands – whether he pumps, whether he looking over there, it doesn’t really make a difference. You have to make sure you do your assignment first and then you don’t execute what you’re doing until that ball is in the air. That’s No. 1. If you’re playing a man concept, obviously you have to have your eyes on the man and then when he calls for you look up for the ball, then you look up. You have two different ways to approach it.”

DeAngelo Hall: I know he played with a sore ankle and I’ll assume that it made a difference in his performance.  It was not a good one as he fell for a double move (thinking his man was double-teamed however; in his defense, that’s why he likely thought he could play it aggressively) and he was beaten off the line for a second touchdown. Hall also failed to tackle Boldin on a 28-yard route late in the game in which he tried to punch the ball free from him at least six times. Meanwhile, Boldin gained another 13 yards after Hall grabbed onto his jersey. By the way, this was one player where Flacco showed some awareness as Williams blitzed from the left side and Flacco unloaded the ball just before he arrived. The late hit on receiver Torrey Smith wasn’t smart; Hall took about three steps before hitting him. The play had clearly ended.

Jarvis Jenkins: He got off to a rough start. On the first play he was too upright after the snap, lost leverage and got turned on a Ray Rice five- yard run. On the second play, he was cut on the backside and on the third play he again was blocked by the guard. All three plays led to a combined 62 yards. And then he was largely silent (he did not play on the next two series as Kedric Golston and then Doug Worthington rotated in). But Jenkins did more than just help on a couple plays. Like Kerrigan, he was able to make a play by shooting inside. On a second and 3 in the second quarter, Jenkins showed his quickness by slanting inside at the snap and making a tackle for a two-yard gain. But perhaps his biggest play of the game occurred on a second and 4 in the third quarter at the Redskins’ 9-yard line. Again, Jenkins shot inside and tackled Rice for a two-yard loss. Rice wanted to cut back inside on the run, but Jenkins obviously prevented that. Had Rice been successful, he likely would have gained a few yards setting up a third and short. Instead, it was third and long, resulting in a pass and an interception. On the next series, Jenkins was driven back a couple yards, but made a stop by flinging Kelechi Osemele aside. In the end, Jenkins made three plays but showed he still has a ways to go. The Redskins still need him to make a bigger impact as a pass rusher.

Jenkins (after his two-yard stop) was flagged for a neutral zone infraction; he jumped after linebacker London Fletcher tapped him on the butt. However, right after Fletcher did this, the center looked up and pointed. As he did so, his right hand (on the ball) flinched. It’s very likely that’s what caused Jenkins to jump.

Getting fortunate: For the third time in two games a quarterback failed to connect with a receiver breaking open deep. These are low-percentage passes so factor that into the equation. But Ravens receiver Torrey Smith had corner Josh Wilson beaten off the line and QB Joe Flacco underthrew him. He would have had a touchdown. The previous week, Giants QB Eli Manning missed two guys open deep. Just know that Cleveland has receivers who can get open deep, notably rookie Josh Gordon. But Brandon Weeden is inconsistent with his accuracy too. Still, you have to assume there will be opportunities based on, well, the first 13 games.

Safety sack: On Jordan Pugh’s sack, the Redskins took advantage of a five-man front and overloaded the Ravens’ left side. Oher was able to bump blitzing corner DeAngelo Hall, but nobody had a shot at Pugh. Flacco did not check out Hall after looking to the left as he walked to the line. Hall typically tips off his blitzes, but he did a good job in this case of not showing anything right away. Had Flacco looked back over in this direction before the snap, however, he would have at least anticipated a possible blitz. Hall was aligned a half yard inside slot receiver Anquan Boldin and staring at Flacco. Sort of a tipoff. I’ve seen other QBs take a quick peek back at Hall either right before the snap or after. Nothing like that here; easy sack.

Cutbacks: Ray Rice did an excellent job pressing the hole and, like Alfred Morris with the Redskins, getting linebackers to over-pursue. On his seven-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, Rice showed patience and quick feet. As he started left, nose tackle Chris Baker tried to position himself to get off center Matt Birk’s block. But Rice faked a cut to the right, Baker lost any leverage and the tight end blocked London Fletcher clearing the final path. Rice almost glided like a skater through the hole.

TE TD: Perry Riley, whom the Redskins like in man coverage, lost Dennis Pitta to the inside after shading him hard that way off the line. Pitta did a good job getting inside, but he created more separation late with a little push-off at the top of his route. Riley complained to the officials. What also hurt on this play: Kerrigan and Stephen Bowen ran a stunt and Bowen was unable to get outside so the rush lost balance and contain. Flacco was able to slide to his left and had a clear path on his throw.

Not elite: Flacco is a good quarterback capable of excellent throws. He’s more than just a game manager. But I don’t get why there was any discussion about him being potentially elite. He’s not. His lack of awareness in the pocket was astounding in this game (and it was evident in others, too).

Key drives: The Ravens started two drives in the second half with excellent field position – at their own 40 and at the Redskins’ 47 on consecutive possessions. They went three-and-out both times.

Sav saves: He’s been a lot more consistent than he was early in the season and he came through with two big-time punts in the fourth quarter. First, punting from his own 7, came a 49-yarder that was in the air for 4.8 seconds and resulted in a muffed punt. However, offsetting penalties forced another punt and this time Rocca sent it 51 yards in 4.9 seconds. There was an 11-yard gain, but that wasn’t his fault. After the next series Rocca punted  from his 15 and nailed it 51 yards with a 4.6 hangtime.

 

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Author:

John Keim

Staff Reporter - Washington Redskins
The Washington Examiner