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May you never cease to amaze me, PGH

Post Game Heroes, continuing in their tradition of making me look unnecessary, posted their defensive breakdown for the Redskins-Steelers game complements Dillweed. Despite some suggestion previously that these guys weren't "qualified" to comment on the offensive line, a conclusion I found absurd as eyes qualify a person to comment on things they witness (and this is not a sleight against blind or disabled persons), perhaps I could grant some minor concession to cynics that offensive line play is often times subtle or nuanced or complicated enough for those of us unfamiliar with its inner workings to comment on effectively, if as qualified witnesses. I should admit that I infrequently know what is going on along the offensive line. So the acceptance of mild criticism isn't so much a suggestion that PGH can't write on that subject (which they demonstrably can, and did) rather just an admission by yours truly that I can't.

But some things that happen on a football field aren't interpretive or nuanced and when laypersons -- or anyone for that matter -- make believable claims then we're justified in accepting them at face value. Specific to the defense, pre-snap you can reliably witness a number of things about a defense with scrutinizying eyes, of note the personnel on the field and the defensive packages they are employed in. Post snap you can also tell who makes a tackle, who is covering a person who catches or doesn't a football, who blitzes, who doesn't, who lines up at defensive tackle if not our normal tackles, who gets double teamed by the opposing offensive line, who makes open field tackles vs. ones assisted in traffic, how far off the line the corners play in coverage, so on and so forth and so on and so forth. And that is precisely what they did in this awesome postgame analysis of the defense, which could tell me because I don't have the game footage in front of me that, among other things, that Your Washington Redskins lined up in a 4-2-5 (4 linemen, two linebackers, 5 DBs although you knew that because you played Madden) nickel package on the 12th play of the 4th Steelers' offensive drive, that it was a 1st and goal situation, that it was a pass play, that Shawn Springs was in coverage and was on top of the receiver and that Rocky McIntosh "is a beast in coverage" and was also responsible for the hit that jarred the ball loose and brought us to 2nd and goal -- which was a 4-2-5 nickel with Carlos Rogers on Hines Ward giving up a 6 yard pass play. Followed by a false start. Followed by a holding on McIntosh. Followed by a 4-2-5 nickel with blitzing safeties of Taylor and Landry with McIntosh making his way into the backfield for a -4 yard tackle. Followed by...

You get the picture. Short of actually TIVOing the game, this is the best post hoc analysis of the game available, far more detailed and comprehensive than anything, anywhere else. And in this case even skeptics of allegedly amateur reporting can admit that so much of the information provided is uncontroversial and dependant none-at-all on any individual's special football observation talents. A 4-2-5 is easy to identify. The names and numbers on jersies clearly indicated who is where on the field, which subsequently tells us the defensive player's role on any given play. Again, none of this is interpretive. Are we sure that Carlos Rogers hasn't switched jersies with Shawn Springs? Yes, of that much we are certain. Are we sure that a team with five defensive backs on the field is in a nickel package? Yes, by definition. Are we sure that LaRon Landry represents the 8th man in the box? Yes, but only in cases where he represents the 8th man in the box.

This is observational analysis at its best, free of bias or too sweeping assumptions or (largely of) editorial or time constraints on the writer. What is provided here is not provided elsewhere by newspapers or this blog (and that is nothing against the newspapers, which provide an incredibly valuable product as well, though different from the one here) or even by the NFL's play-by-play which still omits crucial context such as defensive formations, blitzing players, and general personnel.

God's work they're doing.