Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jim Haslett: A Long History of Producing Defenses that Struggle

Shortly after becoming head coach, Mike Shanahan hired Jim Haslett to be defensive coordinator and install a 3-4 defense. Two weeks ago I expressed frustration at Haslett's performance, and last week Shanahan appeared to do the same thing. This week, the defense looked horrendous against the Bills.

These events have led me to re-visit Hasslett's hiring, and in particular, two concerns -- warning signs, red flags, really obvious problems -- that should have led to heads being scratched and fans asking questions.

Strange Beck Interceptions

Beck has two 4th quarter INTs after protecting the ball well the whole game. Undoubtedly this is in part because Beck is taking more risks. But the INTs are also strange, because both involved Redskins receivers who were completely out of the play by the time the ball arrived.

Beck's Not The Problem

To be clear, Beck is not without flaws. In particular, he's terribly uncomfortable with the long ball. But other than that, he's doing reasonably well given the circumstances, hitting receivers on short- and mid-range throws when they are open, and protecting the ball despite repeated sacks and hurries.

So what is the problem? There are several, but here are four:

1) A rookie center with 0 NFL snaps before October is not only starting but is responsible for calling the blocking-schemes at the line of scrimmage. It's not working. Beck is being pressured virtually every play, and Torrain has no running room.

As Expected, Tebow's Terrible

Since the Skins are so bad on every dimension that matters, perhaps a brief diversion is in order. Today Tim Tebow has thrown for 100 yards and 1 TD. Oh, to be clear, this was to the Detroit Lions defense. To his own offense he has thrown for 84 yards and 0 TDs. (Note. This post was written at the beginning of the 4th quarter; Tebow added some yards in junk time).

Two weeks ago this blog took a stand: "Tebow has no chance this year to be an effective QB."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Does Shanahan think Jim Haslett was out-coached?

Last week I complained that Jim Halett was being out-coached and out-schemed by other team's head coaches and offensive coordinators. After this week's loss to the Carolina Panthers, Mike Shanahan seemed to diplomatically imply the same thing:

First, Shanahan said the following about the defense: "I’ve got to do a better job of getting these guys ready to play."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Redskins vs. Panthers: The Great, the Good, and the Not-So-Good

- Graham Gano is perfect again kicking field goals, including one from 49 yards
- Fred Davis has 6 receptions and a TD

- Beck played well, although he was often let down by his receivers.

Injuries Badly Affecting Redskins

Where to begin. The game started without two starting offensive linemen (Lichtensteiger and Williams) and a starting safety (Atogwe), not to mention Chris Cooley. Now the Skins have lost their backup safety who was starting today in place of Atogwe (Doughty) and their best receiver (Moss). London Fletcher is reportedly vomiting on the sidelines when not on the field, and backup QB Rex Grossman is in the locker room with flu-like symptoms hooked up to an IV.

Redskins just trying to survive this one.

Updates: Doughty came back in, then got knocked out again, and now back in again. London Fletcher is now out.

Trickery by the Redskins

The announcers didn't catch this. With 1:30 remaining in the 1st half the Skins had 4th and 7. Instead of sending out the kicking team the Redskins offense stayed on the field as if they were going to go for it. But they never broke the huddle, called timeout with 1 second left on the play-clock, and sent out the kicking team.

This was a clever move.

Redskins vs. Panthers: Evaluating Beck's 1st Half

All eyes on John Beck today as he gets his first start for the Skins.

- Pros: Beck is in control of the team, gets the play in quick, clear and confident audibles, and looks real quick on his feet both in the pocket and out of the pocket

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Redskins vs. Eagles: Evaluating Beck

May sound funny, but Beck played very well except for his accuracy. And poor accuracy could be due to rust, because historically Beck is an accurate thrower. Otherwise, Beck did many things well:

- Most importantly, he consistently identified and threw to the open receiver
- Related to the previous point, Beck was able to quickly and accurately read and react to the defensive play call

Skins Offensive Line is Hurting

Lichtensteiger is hurt and has been replaced at Guard by Cook, a former practice squad player who had never played a snap in an NFL game before this season. Also, Trent Williams is hurt and Sean Locklear is in at Left Tackle. Can't say we didn't see it coming. From the pre-season prediction:

Jim Haslett is being out-coached

Jim Haslett seems like a nice guy, but I'm tired of watching him be out-coached by the other team's Offensive Coordinator and Head Coach. The looks he gives the other team are repetitive -- e.g., the 0-blitz either with everyone coming or with some dropping back into coverage -- and other teams have smart players and coaches that figure out what to do.

Last Minute Eagles Injury

The Eagles offensive line has struggled, and now they have more reason to struggle.

Offensive Tackle King Dunlap was supposed to start at Left Tackle in place of injured Jason Peters, but injured his back during warm-ups and will not play. Instead, Todd Herremans will shift from Right to Left Tackle, and Winston Justice will get the start at Right Tackle.

Herremans is a natural Guard, and Justice is getting his first start of the season, so the Skins have a fantastic opportunity to dominate the Eagles offensive line.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Redskins vs. Eagles: Knowns and Unknowns

In just a few short hours the Redskins play the Eagles, and so much is known and unknown.

Eagles Defense
Known: Will use creative blitzes and their Wide-9 formation to keep Rex Grossman uncomfortable
Unknown: Will whiz-kid Kyle Shanahan have pass and run plays that successfully counter the Wide-9?

Michael Vick
Known: He will put up a lot of yards both passing and rushing
Unknown: Will he also put up a lot of interceptions like he did last week?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tim Tebow

This is a rare post, because it has nothing to do with the Redskins. Tim Tebow has been named the Broncos starting QB, many are offering their opinions, and I happen to feel the situation is relatively straightforward.

Is Michael Vick playing poorly?

Next week the Skins host the Eagles. While the Skins rested this week, the Eagles lost to the Buffalo Bills in large part due to 4 Michael Vick interceptions. But Vick also accounted for 400 yards of offense. So what are we to make of this ... is Vick playing poorly, which obviously benefits the Skins? Or is he playing well other than a few fluke plays?

I went to the videotape to watch his 4 interceptions closely, and two things were clear:

The Archive

It was the bye week, so here are links to past posts that remain relevant:

- Keeping Graham Gano
- London Fletcher is even better than we think
- Grossman knows the offense very well
- What to expect from Rex Grossman
- Shanahan's players are high-character, fit his scheme
- Prediction for the Season
- Can 6-10 teams like the 2010 Skins become Super Bowl Champions?

Friday, October 7, 2011

About This Forum

Welcome! This is a forum for those who want to share thoughts and analysis beyond what's found in the Washington Post and Official Redskins Blog. So enjoy, and feel free to contribute, either by emailing me if you would like to submit a post or contributing in the comment sections. We just went live in September 2011. HTTR!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bye-Week Discussion Thread!

Skins are 3-1 at the bye. Grossman has looked great and horrible. The best RB on the Skins might be Torrain, or Helu, or Hightower. Gano seems in great form after a week 1 miss. Sav Rocca may be the best punter the Skins have ever had. Ryan Kerrigan looks to be the real deal and then some. Fred Davis is the star tight-end so far, not Chris Cooley. Landry is back. And so much more ...

Discuss below in the comments section!

Or email me if you would like to submit a post.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Redskins vs. Rams: 5 Closing Observations

1) Rex Grossman is still so-so. He runs the offense well, but completes less than 60% of his passes, and gives the ball to the other team once or twice per game. Sure, the 1st interception wasn't his fault, but the ball he threw directly to a Rams defender at the end of the first half should have been intercepted, so it evens out. And the 2nd interception was his fault.

2) Tim Hightower is the 3rd best rusher on the Skins.

Redskins vs. Rams: 5 First Half Observations

1) Skins look fair, not bad not good, against a very bad team.
2) If it weren't for dropped passes, the Rams would have 3 or 4 more first downs and the game might be more like 7-7.
3) Sav Rocca is the man ... punts high, deep, inside the 20, unreturnable, he does it all.
4) Tim Hightower is the 3rd best RB on the Skins roster; I've been saying for awhile that Helu looks more explosive and decisive than Hightower, now I can say the same thing about Torrain -- Helu and Torrain are quick to hit holes in the zone-blocking scheme, Hightower looks hesitant.
5) Ryan Kerrigan is a difference-maker again and again and again ... 5 tackles, 1 sack, forced fumble.