1. Speed does make a difference on handoffs. It might not be much of one, but it exists. Granted, sometimes the landmarks might be a little different in these scenarios, but the overall difference was consistent. When Robert Griffin III handed off in a stretch zone run, it took him approximately 1.10 seconds to get it to the running back each time. When Rex Grossman did it, it took him nearly 1.25 seconds. That’s not a knock on Grossman, but it is an example of the speed. Oh, and it wasn’t just Griffin. Kirk Cousins’ times were about the same as Griffin’s.
2. What also was evident: how the backside defenders played the stretch zone/bootleg action. When Griffin was in the game the angle was a little more upfield going at Griffin. When Grossman was in the game, they sprinted down the line more, going at the back. And picked this one up too after I already filed this the first time. Saw Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus break through the line on a stretch zone to the right. But he fell for Griffin’s fake and sprinted at him rather than Evan Royster, leaving a nice cutback lane that Royster didn’t hit.
3. You want quicker passes? Here you go. Of Griffin’s six throws, only one was longer than 2.84 seconds while four were 2.40 or faster. And while the line did keep bodies off him (Bills didn’t blitz him on a straight drop-back), it’s much easier to protect when the QB unloads the ball fast. Just look at Indy’s line under Peyton Manning. His quick decisions masked weaknesses up front. The key isn’t the offensive line talent as much as it is scheme, play-calling and decision-making.
4. For example, on Griffin’s first pass to Pierre Garcon (ruled incomplete), right tackle Tyler Polumbus had trouble with Mario Williams (no shame there). Williams got into his pads and drove him back. But Griffin threw the ball in 2.10 seconds. Williams’ pressure didn’t really matter. Happened another time in which Polumbus was too wide with his hands and Williams got into his pads. But the ball was out in 1.55 seconds. No worries.
5. Another example of that: Marcell Dareus drove Maurice Hurt back. Hurt’s arms were too outstretched and Darues placed his left hand into Hurt’s chest, helping move him. Hurt lost his balance and fell (face first). But Griffin threw the ball in 2.84 seconds to Garcon (his fourth option; that’s a quick read through his progressions). Center Will Montgomery was pushed back, too, on a stunt. Again, didn’t hurt.
6. On the play, Garcon gained nine yards after the catch, including three more after first contact. One more Garcon: His second reception, an 18-yarder, took Griffin 3.24 seconds to throw. Yet nobody was near him. The corner played tight, but did not jam him. Garcon took an inside release and, at 18 yards, drove off and turned in for the open grab. Of Garcon’s three catches, two were for 20 yards apiece. He had 16 such plays combined the past two years in Indianapolis (on 137 catches).
7. Finally, on his touchdown, both he and receiver Santana Moss were patient. Moss practically walked toward the defensive back on the screen, letting him commit to a side. Then Moss sealed him that way. Garcon cut inside off the block, then back outside off a Trent Williams block. Williams finished it by obstructing two more defensive backs downfield. Incidentally, the Redskins called a screen to both sides on the play. Griffin chose wisely.
8. This is as quiet a summer as Fred Davis has had since joining the Redskins. In every other camp he’s stood out at least in practice. But that hasn’t been the case this summer and he had a quiet night as well. Just pointing it out. Doesn’t mean he’s been bad, just quieter than normal. What he mostly did Thursday night was run-block and, as usual, he had mixed success. In the stretch zone if the tight ends are struggling, then the outside zone will as well. On the game’s first play Davis allowed the lineman, Chris Kelsay, to get his hands inside him and drive him back two to three yards. That forced Evan Royster to cut inside sooner than desired for a one-yard gain. Davis wasn’t that physical on the next play, leading to getting moved back four to five yards. On the next series Mario Williams controlled him on first down, again hands inside.
9. But on the first unit’s last series, Davis was much better. Controlled Williams on a zone run to the right; rode him wide in pass protection on the next down (helped when Williams stood straight up at the snap, perhaps expecting a quick slant) and on the next down had a decent run block. Finally, he held off Williams on the ensuing play to cap a good sequence.
10. Neither Evan Royster nor Roy Helu showed a whole lot at running back. It wasn’t always their fault as the holes weren’t there. But they also didn’t do much to create room on their own. No broken tackles, though they’d get a yard or two after contact. Too often Royster had to stutter step and then cut. He’s not fast enough or powerful enough to run that way. When Royster was clicking last season, you rarely saw stutter steps.
11. Niles Paul dropped two passes (OK, a third one probably too), one of which occurred because he got hit as the ball arrived. But it also happened because his eyes turned upfield too soon. Paul needs to prove he can help as a receiver, but there’s little doubt he’ll be fine as a blocker. Sort of ironic, isn’t it? But it’s not like he was catching a lot of passes last season, despite decent playing time (only targeted five times). Paul doe as good job positioning himself on blocks, always using his feet. For example, on an inside zone in the second quarter, Paul, in the tiger position to the left, quickly got his feet inside linebacker Shawne Merriman and moved him back. And when he’d reach the linebackers a couple times it was at their initial depth (five yards). But he’d best improve with his hands.
12. Logan Paulsen had a solid night, working mostly vs. backups. But aside from one or two blocks he was good. He’s had a nice camp; doesn’t stand out but has shown improvement as a blocker. More consistent. Oops. Just found a time where he got pancaked at the end of a play. But he was still fine.
13. Talked about Brandon Banks in the initial game review so there’s not much new to add. Again, he can overcome a couple drops but it’s the plays in which his size is a factor that are worrisome. If a DB is tight on him, it’s easy to drive through or reach around to knock the ball away. He must get better separation to avoid such plays. And on jump balls downfield it’ll be tough. Also saw him get popped on a run to the right in which the man he blocked helped make the tackle for a short gain.
14. Rookie left tackle Tom Compton did a decent job considering how often he was left in one-on-one blocking. But there were a handful of times that revealed some issues (he’s a rookie sixth-round pick, of course he has them). Mostly, Compton struggled when a rusher started one way and then headed the other. If it was a quick move, Compton had a hard time stopping it. On one stunt, he was beaten wide because he was slow to get outside.
15. Rookie right guard Adam Gettis showed some toughness and ability. In practices he gets stood up and almost bent over at times. Well, it happened Thursday. But: the one time it did happen it wasn’t an issue because he anchored well. In fact, on the play – against Marcell Dareus — he was the Redskins’ linemen closest to the line of scrimmage. He’s a strong guy — his college coach Kirk Ferentz raved about this aspect of his game — and, Thursday, was able to reset his base to prevent damage. There’s a lot to develop here. He wasn’t perfect by any means, but for a rookie facing starters? Good enough. Actually, a lot to like.
16. There were some issues in run blocking with combination blocks. Not surprising as this takes a little timing. There was one time in which Gettis and Montgomery had a strong combo block (the play in which Gettis picked up the linebacker, who drilled him; but it left an opening).
17. Erik Cook will have a tough time winning a roster spot and didn’t exactly have a great game. But his holding penalty was unfortunate. He had to reach far to his left for the defensive lineman on the stretch play. But rookie Josh LeRibeus didn’t help him out by slowing this defender before he peeled off. Left Cook in a bad spot. LeRibeus was up and down; at times he was aggressive with his punch off the snap. Sometimes that was good; other times it left him lunging. LeRibeus has a ways to go.
18. Liked receiver Josh Morgan’s conversion on a third and 2 in the second quarter. He came off the ball physical vs. the DB, running right at him around three yards off the ball. Morgan physically drove him off, then cut inside after creating two yards of separation for the easy grab. He blocks this way too. LeRibeus was moved back quickly off the ball on this one. But Kirk Cousins released the ball in 1.75 seconds.
19. Talked about Alfred Morris in the post-game notes too. No need to repeat a lot of it here (you’re welcome). I was surprised to see that his longest run was only six yards. No back really threatened a long run at all. Wasn’t all their fault as the holes weren’t always there. But of Morris’ 14 carries only one lost yardage. Definitely want to see more. There is a lack of cohesiveness up front (to be expected early on) and in the zone scheme that hurts. If that gets ironed out, you’ll see longer runs.
20. Cousins showed quite a bit. Among the general impressions: He ignores the rush well. You never saw his eyes waver from downfield when the pocket changed. On his interception, Nick Martinez and Cook failed to slow a rusher inside, but Cousins then threw too wide of Morgan. For the most part Cousins was decisive and he’s more athletic than you think. He’s not a zone-read threat, but he is mobile enough. I liked how he stepped up in the pocket on the third and 23 in the fourth. Actually he did it on the previous play, too, but there was a holding penalty. Next play, Cousins stepped up again. The pass was incomplete, but I love that he doesn’t see the rush. Another example: On the completion that clinched the win, Cousins dropped back, pumped the ball and moved up as the rush closed, and delivered a strike to Aldrick Robinson.
21. Robinson created a good release for himself with his footwork off the line (third play of the fourth quarter). Banks opened the door for Robinson to make a move over the next few weeks.
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