When the news came out that Jordan Reed was going into concussion protocol earlier this week, Redskins nation understandably was worried; not only for his health but for the Redskins offense. Jordan Reed has been the biggest aspect of the offense up to this point. He is the biggest matchup nightmare on this offense and everything went through him. He draws so much attention that it opens up opportunities for the rest of the receivers. So obviously there was a big concern about Reed being out for this game and potentially for much more- this is his 6th concussion after all.
Jay Gruden and his offensive staff had to be prepared to call the game without Jordan Reed, and the results show that they were well prepared and they deserve a lot of credit for the end result of Sunday’s game against the Eagles. They racked up 493 total net yards with 230 of those yards came from running the ball. The obvious note you can make from looking at that is they made more of a commitment to running the football. They passed 34 times and ran it 33 times, that’s a much more balanced approach than we’re used to from this offense.
What I’m here to show you today is a look that epitomizes the Redskins new commitment to the running game with Jordan Reed gone. That look was the Redskins bringing backup tackle Ty Nsekhe as an extra tight end, also known as the jumbo or unbalanced formation.
Before this game the Redskins had not shown this look all season. You may remember the year before when the Redskins were depleted at the tight end position they brought out this same look with Tom Compton being that extra blocker. The Redskins had no choice but to do that last year. This year, however, is different and it’s been brought back as a wrinkle to mix in here and there. As I mentioned, the Redskins hadn’t run this look before Jordan Reed went into concussion protocol and I have no doubt that this formation was implemented because of that. Here’s the first play that they ran this look:
As you can see in this play it didn’t get a lot of yards, however, if Nsekhe and Moses did a better job on their reach blocks there was a lot of space for Matt Jones to work with. The look they wanted was there, just need to execute better. The second time they run this look was on the goaline. Nsekhe comes in as extra blocker with Vernon Davis and Niles Paul lined up to block.
Granted this is more of just a simple goal line formation but it’s still the same concept. The only difference is instead of having a wide receiver lined up out wide, they bring in Robert Kelley as a full back (who’s block on this play paved the clear path for Matt Jones to score). This shows more of the commitment to the old school smash-mouth way of running the football, instead of throwing the fade or something else cute like that when in the red zone. After that touchdown this look didn’t make another return until the final drive of the game when the Redskins ran the clock out. The first two plays of the drive were unglamorous. Their only goal on this drive was to grind out a couple plays to run the clock out, and then this play happened:
Here they run the sweep to the boundary, on 3rd & 7 no less, with Nsekhe and Trent both blocking down and Shawn Lauvao kicking out the defensive end. The play is executed so well that Matt Jones sprints for a huge 57 yard gain. The Redskins then were able to take a knee to run the clock down to zero.
This jumbo formation might just be my favorite formation that the Redskins run. It’s part of that old school “run the ball down your throat” mentality. It might not always be glamorous but you’re bound to break out the big run eventually if executed and schemed properly. Ty Nsekhe is a starting caliber offensive lineman and is waisted standing on the sidelines. Gruden and his staff recognized that and utilized their best blockers by using this formation. I would love to see them run this more and continue to use this look even when Jordan Reed is back. Maybe even use a four tight end look with Reed, Davis, Paul, and Nsekhe all lined up. There is a lot you could do out of that formation like splitting Jordan Reed out as a wide receiver, not to mention the play action pass out of that formation would be deadly. The possibilities are endless.