Redskins vs. Bills game review (defense)

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Redskins Confidential,Sports,John Keim

 

1. Linebacker Brian Orakpo lined up in a four-point stance the entire first series (all of three plays). There are some NFL coaches who still think he’d be best used as a 4-3 defensive end, so it makes sense to have him play with his hand in the dirt on occasion. Orakpo likes doing this and it works at times. Like on the first play when he badly whipped the left tackle with a terrific get-off and speed around the edge. That forced Ryan Fitzpatrick up in the pocket. However, thanks to Adam Carriker collapsing the pocket with power, Fitzpatrick had nowhere to go. He sort of slid to his left, but that’s where Ryan Kerrigan was waiting. Kerrigan had looped all the way around, going behind the QB and to the other side. When the right tackle bumped into the left tackle in the backfield, it enabled Kerrigan to get home for the sack. But he got there thanks to the initial work of others.

2. Orakpo’s other two rushes from this spot weren’t as productive. He used a power rush on the second one and went upfield on the third. But that was by design in part to open a blitz lane for London Fletcher. He drilled Fitzpatrick as he released the pass. It’s tough to reach Fitzpatrick because of this quick passing attack. On this play, for example, he threw the ball in 1.58 seconds.  This was the case last year when the teams met. Yes, it was a major study in contrast watching Fitzpatrick and John Beck operate on the same day. One seemed to take between 3-4 seconds each time; the other was under two seconds almost every time. Guess which one did which. You have one second. (one thousand one)… You are correct.

3. With the No. 1 defense, the Redskins sent five rushers nine times in their 11 plays. They used zone blitzes and sent defenders from the slot. They were much more aggressive than Buffalo, but that’s also the Redskins’ style. While it appeared that they showed a lot, there’s no doubt they held a lot back. But it’s also clear what the Redskins want to do anyway. It’s just a matter of when they do it and what sort of pressure they apply. They did a good job of getting one-on-one matchups via the rush.

4. They sent DeAngelo Hall from the slot. They made it appear as if both outside ‘backers were coming, only to have Orakpo drop and have Fletcher come on a zone blitz with nose tackle Barry Cofield covering. They also sent Fletcher and had Kerrigan drop to the middle in coverage. I’m trying to remember if they ran that look last year, but I do like it as an element of surprise.

5. Kerrigan, for what it’s worth, looked like he was focusing on staying even lower as he turned the corner. Just watched a couple minutes of the Eagles game last season and he was a little more upright as he engaged the tackle. Thursday he did a better job of gaining leverage. Against the Bills he drove the right tackle back on the first play of the third series by getting into his pads.

6. Brandon Meriweather nearly intercepted a pass thanks to how well he read Fitzpatrick. But that’s what you’re supposed to do in a zone. Not sure where Fitzpatrick was going with the ball.

7. Tough to tell much about the starting defensive front because they only faced passes. And, again, Fitzpatrick throws the ball so fast it’s hard for the interior to get near him (their first job is to step lateral).  Cofield had one solid rush in which he stepped to his left then charged upfield past the right guard. Also saw Stephen Bowen have one good power rush . But it didn’t matter; it was the play in which Hall allowed 11 yards on a slant to Stevie Johnson (Hall was turned around on the play; seems to have more trouble on inside routes).

8. Got a good chance to watch second-year end Jarvis Jenkins. Last summer his issue was not bending his knees enough. He made some plays even while too straight legged, but it was something the coaches wanted him to correct. Jenkins occasionally played this way Thursday, too. Considering the layoff that’s not surprising. Not bending his knees caused him to get moved back about two yards on one run (in which Rob Jackson helped collapse the end. Another time it landed him in trouble, albeit vs. a double team.

9. But Jenkins did show his power. On his first snap he had a good initial burst and stung the left guard, standing him up. Good leverage. Early in the second quarter he stayed low when engaging the left guard and drove him back. Finally, on another snap in the second quarter (inside the 5) Jenkins got through quick enough that he was nearly two yards deep when the ball was handed off to Tashard Choice. It forced him to cut back and Chris Baker was there along with Jordan Bernstine, who aggressively took out the lead blocker, and Lorenzo Alexander. Actually, Bernstine hit Choice and he spun off into Baker. A terrific play by Bernstine.

10. Bernstine and Richard Crawford both showed something. Crawford had the interception — terrific job with his eyes and his positioning — something he’s done a few times in training camp. He blitzed from the slot; had a good punt return.

11. That was quite a goal-line stand and you can credit a whole bunch of players for the success. Already talked about a couple plays. Baker had a hand with his power, clogging the middle. But he was far from alone. Rob Jackson had one of the most impressive plays, driving the tackle into the running back and, with the tackle still in front of him, reaching around to tackle the back.

12. Baker flashed, sometimes a little more than other times (did see him get moved down the line a couple times, so he wasn’t perfect by any means).  He played both end and tackle and initially I thought he was better at nose than at end. His first real pressure came from the nose, using power to go through right guard. On the next play he used a swim move to get into the backfield (though Vince Young ran for positive yardage; still, a holding penalty drawn by safety DeJon Gomes negated the play). But then Baker also had a big pressure from left end, when he swatted the right guard with his left arm and powered to his outside. It still resulted in a completion even though Young’s pass fluttered in the air. Just happened to find a receiver.

13. Baker and linebacker Markus White both had a pressure and then fell on the same play. White, from a four-point stance at left end, spun inside and Baker, from left tackle, powered the guard again to the outside. Somehow they both stumbled. White was called for offsides twice, lining up that way. Can’t happen.

14. I enjoy watching linebacker Lorenzo Alexander blitz. It almost seems like, for him, it’s a kick return and his job is to simply run through whoever is in his way. He did that to a running back on one rush. Poor sap. Another time he seemed to have the mindset of a wedge-buster, getting through two linemen.

15. Gomes was active. Though he’s not a tiny guy, he is sort of slight, but he does a good job squeezing through the line to get into the backfield vs. the run. Defending the pass is his issue. Overall the safeties played violent at times. Tanard Jackson came up hard – real hard – and snapped the lead blocker back on one run. David Jones isn’t a safety, but there wasn’t a bigger collision than the one he had defending a screen, first avoiding the receiver’s block.

16. Chris Neild had his ups-and-downs but he’s a lot better than a year ago. He’s not as athletic as Baker, but he showed that he won’t be an easy out when it comes to a roster spot. The fact that Baker can play end or nose means that Neild can make the roster even if Baker does as well. Anyway, Neild had two pressures, both starting with him going to his left. He even drew a holding penalty.

17. Liked what I saw from linebacker Chris Wilson. His speed can help, but any veteran playing late in a preseason game had better look good. Darrion Scott had his moments here, too. And I don’t know if there’s a spot on this team for Doug Worthington or not. He doesn’t flash quite like the others, but the guy is strong and difficult to move (for the backups at least). Worthington is better vs. the run because of this, but it’ll be tough for the numbers to work out in his favor.

18. Keenan Robinson ran well on special teams, but got called for holding in the end zone. It was legitimate. He didn’t look comfortable all the time, but he obviously has a lot to learn. He excelled at coverage at Texas, but it’s a little different here.

19. Graham Gano’s only kickoff traveled 4.01 seconds in the air and went about five yards deep (Bernstine and Niles Paul made good plays on this stop). Neil Rackers’ only kickoff went about five yards deep too and had a hangtime of 4.21 seconds. Just wanted to see how Rackers compared because Gano had far more touchbacks than he did a year ago.

20. Buffalo’s 21-yard punt return came in part because of Sav Rocca’s punt that had only 3.58 seconds of hangtime. Makes it tough to cover. But Rocca had another punt that 5.24 seconds of hangtime (all by my unofficial count, of course).

 

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John Keim

Staff Reporter - Washington Redskins
The Washington Examiner