The Bengals had not shown the play before. So when they lined up in a wildcat formation, the Redskins’ defensive players switched to the defense geared to stop it, especially if they ran the ball.
But, of course, the Bengals didn’t. And the one thing that was overlooked: Mohamed Sanu, who took the snap, completed eight of 18 passes for 207 yards and four touchdowns while at Rutgers.
“Not until after the game,” Redskins safety Madieu Williams said when he learned of Sanu’s ability to pass. “He mentioned it to me. He threw the ball very well.
“It’s something we weren’t prepared for. Obviously as players we have to do a better job making sure we recognize things like that and don’t let things like that happen….I thought we did a great job recognizing it. We were able to check into our defense in that situation.”
Another player also said they did not know Sanu had thrown that pass in college. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said they research players’ backgrounds to see if they’ve done anything like Sanu had done; previous staffs had done the same — with players saying they even knew what hand a player threw with, just in case. Shanahan also said they just received tapes of the wildcat run at Rutgers, where current Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano coached before this season. The Redskins play the Bucs on Sunday.
The players, though, weren’t aware of anything unusual from Sanu — who played at Rutgers.
“We work wildcat all the time,” Shanahan said. “Normally they’re not very good at throwing the ball. If they can it gives you an advantage. There aren’t too many guys that …can throw it that well and right on the money.”
But another issue on the play was that safety DeJon Gomes lined up over receiver A.J. Green while corner DeAngelo Hall was on quarterback Andy Dalton split wide right. Gomes was beaten within eight yards en route to a 73-yard touchdown pass — few safeties could cover Green for too long. In the past the Redskins had lined up in a cover-3 defense, with Gomes covering the flat, Hall dropping to deep third and the free safety, in this case Williams, taking deep middle and the quarterback (Sanu). Teams almost always run out of this formation, but they are most vulnerable down the middle of the field.
“It was supposed to be me on Green and the safety on the quarterback,” Hall said. “But I couldn’t get him lined up. I had to go out and cover [Dalton]. We would like for me to get out on Green and for him to go out on the quarterback but sometimes things don’t work out the way you plan and you have to adjust on the run and it resulted in a big play against us.”