If you missed it last week, I've started doing a weekly mailbag for any questions you guys might have for Redskins X's and O's. If you have a question, feel free to leave it in the comments section below or send it to me on twitter, @UkRedskin1.
The first question is one I get a lot. It came from Hogs Haven user Steve B in the comments section last week.
I’d really love to see the X’s and O’s of how a defense can stop the read option. There’s been a lot of talk about how coaches are all asking college coaches on how to stop it, but I haven’t seen any good answers on how the read option can be effectively stopped. I’m sure we’ll see lots of ideas this coming season, but I’d love to hear your take on it!
The read-option isn't something that is flat out impossible to stop, if it was, every team in the NFL would find a way to use it. One of the common ways the NFL uses to stop it is the scrape exchange, as we can see here.
This involves the unblocked defensive end crashing down to force the quarterback to keep the ball. The linebacker will then drop down to cover the run of the quarterback. This works against the standard read-option plays, assuming the linebacker can actually make a play on the quarterback (not always a given with the athletes running the read-option right now). But the Redskins found a way to counter this, using a fullback to sift back across the line and block the scraping linebacker. You can see more on that here.
But the problem for defenses isn't necessarily stopping the read-option, it's stopping everything that works off of it. If a team wanted to go full out to stop the read-option, they could just run Cover 0 every time. That would allow the defense to have a man assigned to both the quarterback and the running back. But that would then leave the defense extremely vulnerable to any quick passing play.
From my point of view, I would have my unblocked defensive end stay where he is, forcing the quarterback to hand it off. Then that end is responsible for the backside of the run and stopping any cut back runs that come his way. Outside of that, I'd have the rest of the defense play their gaps and make sure they are technically sound enough to be able to maintain gap control. That forces the back to run into tight rushing lanes.
Of course, there are problems with that philosophy. With the Pistol formation, the Redskins are able to hide which end they are running to and which they are leaving unblocked. They can also use this to disguise throws and eliminate the pass rush. It's really a case of pick your poison.
The next question comes from twitter.
@ukredskin1 how can the skins expand the passing offense off the zone read PA? Felt like they only had a few plays; skinny post, TE up seam— Fayssal (@Ali_Island) June 12, 2013
I like this question, but my first thought is that the Redskins don't need to expand it until defenses learn how to stop it. We made a living last year throwing the post route on the back of play-action and nobody was able to stop it. By the end of the year, every team we played knew it was coming. Some teams were able to get their linebackers to drop quick enough to clog up passing lanes; while others brought their safeties up closer so they could threaten the pass across the middle.
The first thing I'd look to add to it is a wheel route. I drew up a play like this using Chris Thompson on the wheel route previously.
But you could easily adjust that to have a tight end or slot receiver running the wheel. You can see more on that post here.
One other thing I can see the Redskins trying is a post-corner route. Once every team start jumping on that post route, the receiver could cut back out to the corner and potentially be wide open deep. Something like this:
I'm sure the Redskins have other things in their arsenal of plays ready to catch defense off-guard. But as I said, until defenses can prove they can consistently stop the post routes, the Redskins have no need to go away from them.
That's an interesting one that I thought about the other day actually. We've seen plenty of 4-3 teams, like the Giants, run a 'Nascar' package using all four of their best pass rushing defensive ends along the defensive line. But I haven't seen too many 3-4 teams try the same idea. I can only see a couple ways it could happen. The first is in Cover 0, where you know that they will all likely be rushing the passer. The other is in nickle packages where the Redskins sacrifice a defensive lineman for an extra defensive back. That way you can use all four linebackers and your two defensive lineman to rush the passer and still have five defensive backs to cover.
I would say Ryan Kerrigan and Rob Jackson are the guys versatile enough to move inside and be able to drop into zone coverages if they needed to. So I would leave Brian Orakpo on one edge and put the rookie Brandon Jenkins on the other. Then we could see blitzes coming from anywhere, or all at once, like this.
(I know there are three defensive lineman in that picture, but work with me here)
In a word, no. Yes there were reports yesterday that he showed up out of shape and got injured, but he's a young offensive lineman and it's currently June. While it's not ideal, it happens all around the NFL. It's toughest for linemen to keep in shape over the offseason because they know they will lose weight in OTAs and training camp. He'll be fine.
Also, when has a back up guard ever had any sort of trade value? LeRibeus wouldn't fetch anywhere near the pick we used on him right now and it's only his second year. Let's give him a chance to get on the field before we start worrying about him.
That's it for this week's mailbag. Remember to leave any questions for next week's mailbag in the comments section below or send them to me on twitter.