It's been coming, the Rex Grossman breakdown. Part 1 - A look at all 5 Interceptions.

So, the Washington Redskins are 3-1, and the thing everyone is talking about isn't how our defence managed 7 sacks, or how we dominated the run game vs the Rams. The spotlight is on Rex Grossman and his... lets say interesting performances thus far.  So lets get this breakdown out of the way early in the bye week so we can focus on something else. First, lets have a look at Grossman's statistics that I'm sure you all probably know by now:

In 4 games, Grossman has completed 83 passes out of 143 attempts (that's a 58% completion rate) for 989 yards, 6 TD's and 5 INT's.  He has been sacked 8 times, and has fumbled twice, both of which we lost. He has a QB rating of 78.7.  Not spectacular, but not horrible either.  He ranks joint 23rd in the NFL in QB rating with Colt McCoy above the likes of Jay Cutler, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman. Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Cam Newton and Tony Romo have thrown as many INTs as him, while Phillip Rivers has thrown 1 more. 

I could sit here and bore you all day with statistics, lets have a look at some film starting with all his INTs this season.  First up, Rex's first INT against the Cardinals:

Situation: 3rd and goal on the Arizona 6. 1st Quarter, 10:13 remaining . Personnel: 4 WR's (Anthony Armstrong, Jabar Gaffney, Santana Moss, Donte Stallworth) 1 TE (Fred Davis).  

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We're looking at a deep zone heavy defense from the Cards. We're running a 'bunch trips' formation on the right side. The primary target on the play is Fred Davis, who should be able to split the two middle zones in the end zone on his route.  As we see in the next picture, Davis gets held up on his route and re-directed forcing Rex to look to the other side.

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Something I've noticed Rex does a good job of is if he see's his main target is covered, he quickly progresses to his next read.  It's something he's said in interviews that Kyle Shanahan stresses to all the QB's to do, not to stay on one target too long and hope he gets open.  You can see in the two pictures above, he looked for his primary target in Davis, who got redirected off his route by the defender.  Rex instantly comes back across the field to check his other targets.  But what he see's is Armstrong covered deep by what he possibly thought (we'll come back to this in a minute) was two DB's. Gaffney is covered on his route, while Moss looks covered as well.  All the while, Williams is struggling to hold his block.  Rex starts to feel the pressure and starts to move.  Moss is good enough to see Rex needs help and gets himself a yard off the defender. 

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The pressure is nearly there, Rex has to make a decision quick, try the throw, tuck and run (unlikely with it being Rex) or throw it away and take a FG.  Rex takes the first option and attempts to fire it in to Moss.  As you can see in the picture above, his feet aren't set under him as he attempts to throw on the run. He ends up making the throw on his back foot, leading him to lose accuracy. In comes that second DB he may have thought was helping to cover Armstrong.  In actual fact he was passing Armstrong onto the other DB and makes a break on the ball (or at least to stop Moss if he catches it). Whether Grossman saw him or not, only he'll know.  I'm leaning to think he didn't see him or he would have thrown it away knowing Moss would have gotten hit as he caught the ball and wouldn't have made a TD anyway. But at the same time Rex could have just trusted Moss ability to break a tackle and tried to fit it in, we'll never know. In the end, Grossman's off-balance throw led him to miss a diving Santana Moss significantly and hits the DB in the chest for an easy INT. 

I put that INT down to him throwing off-balance. If he throws that with feet set, he'll hit Moss almost every time.

Lets move onto his second INT in that game. There was nothing Rex could do about this one. He threw a fine pass that would have gotten us a 1st down but it was tipped by Armstrong and is just floated up for the defender to get an INT. 

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You can clearly see here, that this was a pass interference penalty that was missed by the officials. Jefferson is holding Armstrong's left hand back when the ball is there, restricting him from making a two-handed catch. Can't blame that on Rex, that's just unlucky and a bad call from the officials. Onto the Cowboys INT.

Situation: 1st and 10 on the Washington 17, 2nd Quarter, 14:22 remaining. Personnel: 1 WR (Santana Moss), 3 TE's (Chris Cooley, Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen) and 1 RB (Roy Helu).

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This is the worst INT Rex has made in my opinion. I've watched it several times over and I just can't see what he was trying to do. It's a heavy protection formation, in effort to give Rex time to hit someone deep.  We send Moss on a double move, Helu motions out to WR and appears to run an 'out' or a 'comeback', but its not clear, and Davis is also on a deep pattern

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His first read is Moss, he see's that Moss still has 5 yards of a cushion from the DB to eat up so, remembering that Kyle Shanahan has told QB's not to wait for one read to get open, progresses to his second read. That would be Davis.

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At this angle, as he goes to throw the ball, you can see the space for Grossman to throw into. It's a tough throw as he needs to lead Davis to avoid the LB in man coverage on him (and as it turns out, Sean Lee as you see circled in pink), but not too far to avoid the deep safety making a play on the ball.

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Here's the angle from behind Rex as he throws the ball. After the game Rex said he didn't see the Mike (Middle LB, Sean Lee on this case). From this view you could perhaps see why, as there is another defensive player stood 10 yards directly in-front of him, and Rex has an Olineman in-front of him who he's probably struggling to see over as it is (Rex isn't that tall for a QB). So this could perhaps shed some light as to why Rex didn't see the Mike. 

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However, I would like to see his explanation on the ball placement. Circled in pink is where Lee intercepted the ball, notice that he caught it between waist and chest height, and notice that the LB on coverage of Davis is only a few feet away from Lee when he intercepts the pass. This looks to me like a horribly under-thrown/poorly judged throw. I've circled in red roughly where that ball would have needed to be placed for Davis to make the catch. I don't believe that even if Lee or the other LB hadn't been there, that the ball would have even reached Davis without bouncing. Easily one of Rex's worst throws as a Redskin. Onto the next INT. 

This is another unlucky INT for Rex that he can't do anything about. He gets pressure and has to get rid of the ball early to his hot read Moss. Rex does everything perfectly, even managing to delay the throw (and throw accurately off-balanced) as long as possible to allow Moss to recover from slipping Ramsint1a_medium

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You can see here the pressure on Rex to get the throw off and you can see it hits Moss perfectly in stride. The ball bounces off Moss's hands, onto his knee, and up into the air just nicely for the safety to come up and make a play. That's two of the 4 INT's we've now seen that have been unlucky and not Rex's fault. Onto his last INT.

Situation: 1st and 10 on the Washington 20. 4th Quarter, 5:45 remaining. Personnel: 2 WR's (Jabar Gaffney, Santana Moss), 1 TE (Fred Davis), 1 FB (Chris Cooley), 1 RB (Tim Hightower).

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To start with, I know a lot of people will criticize this play-call because we have a lead and just need to run out the clock. We had a similar situation last week, and Kyle Shanahan said then that we had a 1 score lead, with time still on the clock. They believe the best way to approach it is attack and get a bigger lead, taking time off the clock in the process.  A play-action is a great call because everyone is expecting a run on 1st down to get the clock moving.

Moss is running a 'deep comeback' route which actually takes him to the 40 yard line, but that's out of the picture here. Gaffney runs an 'out and up' where it starts off looking like an 'out' route, but is actually going deep up the sideline. Cooley helps block the hole on the fake run, then gets out to into the flat.  

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From these two pictures, we see that the James Laurinaitis, the Mike LB bites on the play-action, and then has to turn and get back into position. On the second picture, I've also circled the big group of Linemen that could potentially block Grossman's view of Laurinaitis getting back into position.  

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In the top left corner you can just about see Moss's legs as he is slowing down to turn around and receive the pass. Grossman does a nice job of 'eyeing off the safety' (which means he keeps the lines on his helmet straight making the safety think he's looking straight down the field, when actually his eyes are looking at Moss) and throwing just as Moss begins to turn.  Unfortunately, Laurinaitis is also watching Moss. He see's that Moss is running a comeback route, and reads the play beautifully. I've also circled the group of linemen again to show that potentially Grossman couldn't see Laurinaitis (although I think this is just a case of a brilliant play from Laurinaitis. 

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You can see Moss is miles open and the safety at the top of the screen that Grossman 'eyed off'. From here though, it's all about Laurinaitis, who gets his head round and locates the ball just as its getting to him.

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He does a great job catching the ball having had very little time to locate it before it got past him. It's hard to fault Grossman on this play, he saw Moss open deep and kept the safety off him. Laurinaitis just made a heck of an adjustment to make a play.

So overall we have 5 INTs. 2 of which weren't in anyway Rex's fault. 1 was a great play from the mike LB, 1 was an off-balanced throw after feeling pressure, which is something he can learn from and adjust. That just leaves 1 really bad play, which I still can't really help Grossman out with.

Next time we'll have a look at some of the positive from Rex in these games, but as this is nearly 2000 words long, I think I'll cut this here as part 1.

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