I couldn't really think of a main topic to go for for a main theme breakdown, so I just watched the game back, and picked out a few things that I noticed. Apology in advance if this seems a bit jumbled, but as I said, I couldn't come up with a main theme for it (maybe you could give me ideas on Twitter, @UkRedskin1, I'm always looking for suggestions).
First thing I noticed was the revamped Oline did a pretty good job in my opinion (former Redskins blogger Matt Terl pointed out on Twitter that they could have gone in his "Winners" column due to the expectation of them going into the game. If you haven't checked out that blog, I urge you to as Matt does some terrific stuff) , especially in the run game early on. Both of these two examples occur early on in the game (in the first quarter to be exact) and I thought it was going to set the tone for they day (I was wrong...). Lets have a look:
Our trademark stretch run to the right. Jammal Brown and Chris Chester are going to take care of the DE and the DT, allowing Fred Davis and new Center Erik Cook to get to the second level and get blocks on LBs. Darrel Young is going to get far outside and get a tremendous hit on the safety the Panthers brought into the box.
Just to point out, look at the amazing jump Young gets! *Sarcasm*. Seriously though, I couldn't believe that he got away with this. He gets two steps in before the ball is snapped.
Some will say Tim Hightower could have cut back along the black line here, as the inside edge is sealed off. But look at the red circle, Brown has sealed the outside. Hightower reads this and follows the stretch run outside.
Hightower attempts to cut back at this point, but as you'll see in the next picture, he isn't able to because the defenders manage to disengage with their blockers and get to him.
Hightower is eventually bundled out of bounds for a nice 10 yard gain. The revamped Oline prove they can block. But this was a run to the right, where the two mainstays of the Oline, Brown and Chester, have been there since week 1. So here's a better run, this time to the left.
John Beck appeared to audible to this play. He saw the safety in the box to the right again and he noticed the LB to the left was out wider than usual, giving us an opportunity to create a nice hole on the left side.
Logan Paulsen gets outside onto the LB, while new LT Sean Locklear gets inside leverage on the DE and pushes him outside. Will Montgomery (now at LG) and Center Cook get good angles on their blocks to give them the ability to push them back inside, sealing the inside edge and creating a big hole for Hightower to run into.
The Panthers defenders actually appear to get themselves caught up amongst each other, leaving Cook to seal the edge, and Montgomery to get to the second level. As soon as Hightower secures the ball, he can see the obvious hole.
Look at that, that is probably the cleanest hole Hightower has run through in his whole Redskins career. Montgomery kicks back inside to just secure the seal, and Hightower ends up getting 17 yards on the play.
I didn't think the pass protection of the Oline was that bad either. One play that did hurt us though was the sack/fumble on Beck. Jammal Brown was blocking, and as you'll see, he never gets his hands properly on the DE.
Brown starts off in a good position to make the block, at least you wouldn't say the DE has an advantage.
But as Brown goes to engage the DE, his hands are too easily batted away by the defender.
Which allows the defender to get past Brown without losing much momentum. Beck hardly has a chance to step up and throw before he's hit from behind and the ball falls lose.
One last Oline note, anyone else notice on the Beck TD run, Chester and Brown cut block (or at least attempted to) to give Beck a throwing lane? He had struggled with passes being batted down at the line, so I just thought I'd point this out.
We have the 3 receivers on the far side, and just 4 Dlineman.
Chester's cut block, as you can see, is easier than Browns. The DT is trying to run the quickest route to the QB, while the DE is trying to go around the outside, making it harder for Brown to cut block him.
You can see the throwing lane for Beck now. But the coverage is solid, and he could perhaps try and force a throw (possibly like a certain other QB on our roster might have done) but he thinks better of it as he doesn't have a lot of time to set and get an accurate throw off.
So Beck is forced to tuck and run, scrambling for a TD.
The other big thing I noticed from this game, and has been a recurring thought from other games, is the Cut-back run is killing the defense.
On this play, LaRon Landry has a free run at the RB, but over-shoots him taking a weird angle. The Oline all moves to the right like it's going to be a stretch run to the right, and the Dline and LB's all bite on it.
As I said, Landry takes an odd route to the ball, when he could have come up inside and stuffed this whole play before it got anywhere. Also not the two inside LBs, starting to follow the Oline and are dragged slightly out of the play.
Landry has to turn back on himself, and the LB's that previously had bitten on the run to the otherside, are struggling to make up the ground. The RB is left with a big hole to run into, and picks up an easy first down and more.
This next play, I think the main thing that fails is that Brian Orakpo is drawn inside thinking the play is going to the right again, only for it to go back outside him to the left.
All three of the players to the top of that picture all attack the same gap.
It would appear the design of the play was for the RB to run to the LT, but as you can see, our defense has blown up that part of the Oline. The RB reads that Orakpo has the inside shoulder on his block, so he flips back outside.
As the RB bounces outside, Orakpo is sealed off, leaving acres of space to run into.
At which point, it is just a foot race. It ends up being a 40 yard gain before Josh Wilson can catch him and push him out of bounds.
I said earlier, I've noticed this in other games. The one that sticks out to me is the Cowboys game. Jon Gruden pointed it out on Monday Night Football a couple of times, so lets look at one of those.
Cowboys line up with a FB, and two TE's. Just as before, they start off running to the right, before cutting back to the left.
Just like the other runs we've seen, the Oline slides to the right, but this time the leave a TE to help block the "back side".
We have a two on one here, and really the play should be busted. But Rob Jackson goes head on into to the FB, allowing Felix Jones to get outside.
And then Jones is left with a HUGE gap to run into, making a big gain before he's brought down.
This is just something I've noticed, maybe I'm wrong and I've picked out the only three plays it has occurred. Again, I apologise for this not being my best work, but I was struggling for topics that I could try and balance optimism with the doom and gloom that comes with a loss.