The Redskins are facing a very talent-depleted Oakland Raiders football team on Sunday but when you're 0-3 no game can be considered a gimme. The past 3 weeks have seen measured improvement on offense and defense... well, I just say it looks like a 2 dollar hooker because QB's are hitting every hole in our zone with relative ease. The offense is putting entirely too much on Griffin to move the offense at times instead of utilizing the AlMo and the running game. Perfect example of this is the 2 minute offense at the 3 yard line last week against the Lions. 3 consecutive pass plays out of the Shotgun formation. The Lions rushed 3 and everyone else fell back in zone coverage. Zone coverage?? On the 3 YARD LINE?? And not one single run against that zone coverage. Yeah, I think AlMo could have made it in the endzone since most of the defenders are NOT on the line of scrimmage. So opting to pass 3 times consecutively puts Griffin in an high pressure situation by putting the onus on him to try and fit the ball into very tight windows from 3 yards out. Yet KShan acted, at his presser, somewhat surprised that there wasn't more balance between the run and the pass in that game.
The first key to victory is a very simple but a highly effective method of sustaining drives, converting 3rd downs, and gaining momentum during that drive.
- Get 1st down on 2nd down as opposed to going for big chunks of yardage on 2nd & short/medium. They do very good on 1st down when running with Morris. Numerous times last week Morris was gaining close to 5 yards on 1st down, setting up a favorable situation for the offense to convert and sustain the scoring drive. However, 2nd & medium situations have been mostly squandered by taking shots downfield that wind up incomplete. In the 1st quarter against the Lions (9:50 on the clock) the first 2nd & 3 situation saw KShan call a pass play that winds up incomplete. 3rd and 3 after that saw another pass play fall incomplete. 4th &3 now and the first drive stalls. Same thing on the second drive of the game. 2nd & 9 situation saw the pass play fall incomplete and it sets up 3rd & 9. 3rd & long situations puts Griffin in a difficult situation because the offense loses their unpredictability. And unpredictability is an offense's best friend. So, needless to say, the pass fell incomplete to Moss. Drive killer. Perhaps calling a more conservative game plan and mixing it up on 1st and 2nd down might not get big yardage but at least the chains are moving. Am I advocating a dink and dunk style offense (ala the Chiefs with drag routes) while Griffin is getting readjusted to the game? Somewhat. That scoring drive with 4:47 left in the half saw Morris run for 5 yards on 2nd & 10 and that set up the 3rd down conversion by Moss on 3rd & 5. 1st down and Morris runs for 30 yard touchdown. The one scoring drive the team had in the game was the result of KShan mixing it up on 2nd down with the run and play action instead of drive-killing passing plays that set up 4th & whatever.
- Defense... Where to start? How about the tackling issue? The angles the defensive players have to employ to make tackles are off because they are aligned in a way, pre-snap ,that makes it difficult to gang tackle and get more than one helmet at the point of attack. If you spread your fingers out wide and move your hand forward, that should be how a defense encloses the ball carrier and closes off their running lanes. Each finger represents a player. Haslett should try press-man coverage most of the time and that way even if the pass is caught there's little YAC because of said gang tackling and they go down (this is where Minniefield would come in handy with his physical press coverage style of play). Seems a little backward in 2 phases of the game. The offense should try being a little more conservative (seeing the QB situation) and the defense should try going for broke by going after the QB instead of passively calling zone plays.
- Special Teams... Chris Thompson just does not have an instinct for punt return an kick off returns. The first thing you learn when back there is to make the first guy miss. 2nd thing you learn is to not run side to side trying to do that. He needs to make the first guy miss then HEAD UPFIELD. That's not been happening.
The Redskins need to try and not get cute with the play calling. Pick and choose when to attack down field. Also, don't put too much pressure on RGIII by setting up a lot of 3rd and short situations and having him try to pass out of the Shotgun formation. Especially on the goal line. 3 straight shotgun calls from inside the 5 yard line is not protecting your QB. With a RB like Morris 2nd & short and 3 & short situations should be converted almost every time. By mixing it up on 2nd down with the run, pass, and play action, the offense looked like it's 2012 former self on the lone Redskins scoring drive where Morris ran for the TD. On that scoring drive, they were faced with a 2nd & 10 situation and ran the ball with Morris who picked up 5 yards. That made the 3rd & 5 conversion to Moss possible because the defense was looking for a pass on 2nd & 10 and instead they ran the ball for 5 yards. That opened up the play calls and made the pass to Moss so easy to complete against zone coverage. We need more play calling like that scoring drive in order to sustain success.