Apologies in advance for what you're about to read. But I couldn't think of anything else to breakdown, so I'm going to take a look at all 9 sacks. Going into this game, the Bills had a team total of just
two four sacks, and somehow left the game with 13 team sacks. Was this down to good defense, or poor protection? Lets have a look.
John Beck is rolling out to his left on a play-action bootleg. One of the big reasons people wanted Beck over Grossman was because of his mobility which allowed us to run more plays like this. But let's not get into that...
Beck back-pedals to try and buy time, but by this point, he needs to make a decision. He should throw it away or if he must try and make a play, he should continue the bootleg and run to the outside. But instead, he attempts to run up the middle into the crowd of defenders closing in on him... god knows why... Sack No.1 is on Beck.
Bills are giving us a taste of our own medicine here, and running a Cover Zero defense, bringing one more man than we can block. The Oline matches up man-to-man with each Bills defender in the big circle. Now Beck can slide the protection to one side to try and slow down the edge player on one side, and let Roy Helu try and pick up the man on the other. In this case, the protection slides to the right, and Helu goes to the left.
The Oline does a good enough job of slowing down the rush to the right. Beck has the throw he wants, to Fred Davis on a quick out, but Helu doesn't block the man on the far side. Now there are a few possible reasons for this. One possibility could be that Beck didn't realise it was Cover Zero and didn't see/think that one blitzer was coming and didn't alert anyone to him. Another could be that Helu was assigned to pick him up, and failed to do so. But what I think is most likely, and this is just my opinion, is that the Bills defender was on a check blitz (where he was meant to cover the RB if he came out of the backfield to his side, but otherwise blitz) and just broke the coverage in pursuit of the QB, realising that Beck was looking at the other side of the field. In any case, I wouldn't put this one down on the Oline either.
The Bills are only rushing 4 on this 3rd and 7 play. They use a "TEX" rush on the far side of the line. This is where the defensive tackle (T) and the defensive end (E) effectively cross over each other and rush from the other persons position, making an "X" pattern. So the Tackle and the End make an X, hence the term TEX.
The defensive end on the near side of the picture gets an edge on LT Sean Locklear. Beck needs to sense this pressure and step up to help Locklear make the adjustment, or he needs to get rid of the ball quickly either to Gaffney if he thinks he can fit it in there or preferably to Helu on his checkdown route. Beck does none of the above.
Beck doesn't feel the pressure from his blindside until the defender actually lays a hand on him. At that point, he decides to tuck the ball and run, But Jammal Brown can no longer hold his one-on-one block on Marcell Dareus, who eventually chases down Beck for the sack. Hard to put this one on the Oline. Sure Locklear could have done a better job on the protection and Brown might have been able to hold his block a little longer but, in my opinion, they gave Beck enough time to make a decision. He should have got that ball out at the top of his drop, checked it down, or tucked it and run earlier than he did. So for Sack No.3 I'm putting it on Beck, although the Tackles could have perhaps helped out more.
This is a really nice play call (despite what some of you may think about Kyle Shanahan). Jabar Gaffeny runs a clearing route to vacate the space behind him. Terrence Austin and Fred Davis are both running quick outs, and then Niles Paul at the bottom of this picture is running a quick comeback route. On 2nd and 3 with 1:29 left in the half, you just want to get a quick completion for a first down, then get out of bounds to stop the clock. This play is designed to do that perfectly. If Austin is covered you have Davis running the same route a few yards behind him; then if all else fails Paul is on the quick comeback on the other side and he could potentially catch and work his way out of bounds. Also a quick note, Brown and Locklear are on cut-blocks, to get their defenders to the ground, or at least wide away from the guards. This allows Beck throwing lanes on either side so the ball wont get batted down at the line.
Beck checks Paul's route first before moving over the Austin and Davis. Austin could potentially be open with a good throw, but Fred Davis is WIDE open, here's a better look.
I can see why he didn't throw to Austin from this camera angle. The cut block from Brown managed to push the defender wide, but if Beck throws to Austin the defender can easily bat it down. However, the cut block from Brown has opened up a perfect throwing lane for Beck to hit Davis. The only reason I can think he didn't throw it was because he might have thought the DT circled could bat it down. Even so, if you look at that DT, he's looking away from the QB, so wouldn't even know to put his hands up.
Beck goes back to check Paul, but by that time Will Montgomery has lost his one-on-one block and the DT makes the sack, and even if he hadn't the DE was closing down pretty quickly. Sack No.4 on Beck.
In the shotgun, 5 WR set. A rarity for the Redskins. You might think a slightly odd call given that we had already allowed 4 sacks and are still playing back-ups at three Oline positions. However, I'm assuming that they had seen on the sidelines that most of the sacks up to this point weren't really on the Oline.
The DE gets a good jump off the snap, but Locklear gets a really good punch on him to knock him of balance slightly and slow him down.
The DE recovers well and gets an advantage on Locklear, who actually recovers well and gets another good punch in. But Beck feels pressure and gets happy feet having already been sacked 4 times and had been hit many more. He instantly makes the decision to tuck and run, attempting to escape between Brown and Chris Chester.
Montgomery and center Erik Cook fail to hold their block on the DT, and the DE working on Brown realises that Beck is trying to run. Beck ends up getting squashed between all of these lineman and is eventually brought down for sack number 5.
We have a bunch trips formation at the bottom side of the picture. Niles Paul is running a crossing route at the top of the screen. Another 4 man rush from the Bills.
At the top of Beck's drop, he's focused on the downfield target, despite Paul open on the crossing route, and Roy Helu having space on his route from the backfield.
Beck takes his first "hitch", which is when a QB takes a slight step up in the pocket to reset his mechanics and get better timing on his throws. A lot of timing throws will have a QB take a 5 or a 7 step drop with a hitch to buy the WR a little more time to get into his break and get open. Beck still has his eyes on the downfield target.
Beck takes a second hitch, still aiming downfield. Normally when you see a QB take a second hitch, you know something is off and he's waiting for someone to get open. However, Beck never looks at Paul right in front of him, practically screaming for the ball. Meanwhile, the DE has beaten Locklear's block and sets course for Beck.
Beck takes a third hitch, even with a defender closing down on him fast. He's still looking downfield and only now starts to wind up to throw. It's much too late and the DE gets the sack. You could put this one on Locklear for not give Beck enough time to throw deep, or even the WR's for not getting open. But surprise, surprise I'm putting sack number 6 on Beck. He took much too long to throw, locked in on downfield targets and never even attempted to go through progressions despite Paul being wide open in the middle of the field right in front of him.
4th and 4, desperately trying to mount a comeback. Bills run another TEX stun, on the left side of our Oline this time. Another 4 man rush.
At the top of Beck's drop you can see Montgomery only just getting off the block on the tackle before shifting to the end.
Beck winds up to make the throw, but I'm assuming he see's Davis in tight coverage (but I couldn't see what Gaffney's route was off-screen). So he tucks it and attempts to run for the 1st down.
Montgomery cant hold off the push from the DE, who forces pressure up the middle and sticks out an arm to slow down Beck's escape from the pocket. The two DT's then managed to disengage their blocks and catch up Beck after he gets slowed down. Sack seven is just about the only one I can put on the Oline so far. Montgomery in particular needed to leave the DT on the TEX stun earlier and get onto the DE quicker to stop the momentum pushing him back into Beck.
Yet another 4 man rush from the Bills. We have 3 WRs, a TE and a RB.
Beck panics at the top of his drop, and the only reason I can think of is that he has already had 7 sacks and is weary of the pressure. So he instantly scrambles and rolls to his right, despite having a clean pocket.
Beck gets to the point where he needs to make a decision. He can try and hit Davis, he could try and scramble for the first down, or he could just throw it away. Instead, he stops, attempts to break a tackle by a big Bills DE and fails. Sack 8 on, you guessed it, Beck.
The Bills run a couple of the cross stunts, this time between the DT's and the ILB's. Helu stays in to block so we have enough men to cover the blitz one-on-one.
I've marked in red who each blocker should have blocked. But this is a clever stun by the Bills. Chester is naturally drawn in to the DT while Cook is drawn to the other DT on his left. Montgomery helps out Cook, meaning our interior 3 Olineman are occupied by two Dlinemen, allowing the LB a free run at Beck. Chester needed to slide to the right to take the LB, Cook needed to slide right to take Chester's DT block, and Montgomery needed to take on the other DT on his own. Helu could potentially have come across to block the free runner, but he has another person to worry about, as you'll see in the next frame.
Cook ends up not blocking anyone, and the free runner wraps up Beck. This shows you better how I thought we should have blocked it. Chester needed to move onto the free runner, and Cook should have been on Chester's block. This is the second sack I put on the Oline.
So while the Oline was far from great, I think Beck was responsible for the majority of the sacks. It goes to show that while having an Oline can help a QB, a QB can also help an Oline. For all those people saying we can't draft a QB this year because the Oline can't protect him, I think this shows that even a lot of the back up Oline can hold protection long enough for a QB to get a throw off. The only problem is having a set of receivers that are good enough to get open quickly.
The other problem to take a quick note from is that if team's can constantly force pressure from just 4 man rushes, they can just drop 7 men back into coverage. No matter how good WR's are, they will struggle to get open when there is 7 men are in coverage.
What do you guys think? Am I being harsh on Beck and does the Oline need to step up? Or does Beck need to get the ball out quicker?