Saturday, August 31, 2013

Defensive Observations Redskins vs. Bills

            The third preseason game is usually the dress rehearsal for the starters but with the short week and crazy preseason schedule, the Redskins only played their starters for about 20 snaps instead of the normal half of the game. With this development, it would mean that the second, third and fourth stringers would get a lot of reps and the 2nd stringers would be going up against Buffalo's 1st string defense and offense. This would be a good test of the team’s depth that they've been building over Mike Shanahan's tenure as the head coach.

            What impressed me the most with the defense was the relentless pursuit, everyone getting to the ball, the comfort level of all the players knowing the system and being in pretty good position throughout the game. This would also be a good test for the defense. The up tempo pace that Buffalo uses is similar to the tempo that is going to be utilized by the Philadelphia Eagles who will open the season against the Redskins on Monday Night Football. Jim Haslett even showed a different look that most coordinators wouldn't show in preseason, but I guess with the season so close to being here, he couldn't help himself.

            The scheme consisted of a 6 linebacker package consisting of London Fletcher, Darryl Tapp, Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Brandon Jenkins and Rob Jackson. This is no doubt to cause pressure and disrupt the timing of the opposing offense. It will be very interesting this season with the chess game that Haslett will be able to play with all his new pieces to this potential top ranked defense.

            Unfortunately it wasn't all good news with the 2nd year cornerback Richard Crawford tearing his ACL, MCL, LCL in his knee during a punt return. This will definitely effect the secondary now. This injury might open the door for Chase Minnifield to make the 53 man roster being that he and Crawford were fighting for one of the last spots in the revamped secondary. Chase was a big question mark coming off of microfracture surgery in college and an ACL tear last year on the last day of OTAs after he had impressed the coaches.

            Another bad for the third week in a row was that there were too many penalties, especially of the 15 yard variety. In my opinion, two of the calls were a little questionable but you can't put yourself in a position for a referee to make a judgment call or a possible missed call that could change field position, extend drives and possibly cost the team points, or even worse the game. Overall, I liked what I saw from the starters, the backups and the potential roster cuts. For the first time in a long time players that get cut from our roster will be on other team’s opening day roster, which is a testament to the depth and changing of the culture of this franchise that has been spinning its wheels for the last 20 plus years.

The last pre-season game is Thursday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in which most likely none of the starters will play, so it’s the last time some of these players will have a chance to make this roster or hopefully put on tape something for another team to take a chance on them. Final cut down day to 53 is Saturday. With 8 designations for practice squad, it will be interesting who the team will sign either from our current roster or from other team’s cuts. Now let’s get to the series by series breakdown.

            Series 1: First play of the game was Buffalo testing Josh Wilson who was getting his first action of the pre-season. Throwing deep, the corner and wide receiver’s feet got tangled and the pass was incomplete but the refs threw a flag for pass interference. The defense didn't fold or panic with the rookie Brandon Jenkins getting his first sack of his NFL career. He showed relentlessness on the play by getting low against the tackle which enabled the tackle to get him to the ground. The QB tried to break the pocket on the same side Jenkins was on and he found a way to reach and fight enough to get the QB down for a 12 yard loss which lead to a punt. Jenkins has the potential to be Defensive Rookie of the Year in my humble opinion. 

        Series 2: Good pass coverage and run defense forced Buffalo into a 3rd and 12. David Amerson gets called for a 15 yard facemask penalty after a 10 yard gain which extended this drive that should've been another 3 and out. The rookies Amerson and Rambo play the run very aggressively and with these additions and the already stout front seven, the defense should once again be a top five or better defense against the run in 2013. On 3rd and 4, the not so mobile Kevin Kolb was able to scramble for a 7 yard gain. Defense lost containment which it CAN NOT do with Mikel Vick coming to town on the 9th of September. David Amerson got introduced to NFL speed when CJ Spiller hit the edge and just ran past the rookie cornerback who took a bad angle and broke down too fast as Spiller gains 19 yards and sets up Buffalo's lone touchdown of the day. This one drive showed everything that will hurt this team if it plays like this in the regular season.7-7

        Series 3: Buffalo once again tested Josh Wilson on a deep route but Wilson plays it a lot better and had such good position the WR’s only chance to catch the ball was to push off. He did this and was called for offensive pass interference which pushed the Bills deep into their territory and forced the team to punt (on the ensuing punt return Richard Crawford would blow out his knee).

        Series 4: Jordan Pugh with a nice wrap up and tackle on Stevie Johnson. The defense showed great pursuit and ability to stay in their run lanes when CJ Spiller tries to reverse field and cutback. He was stopped after a short gain. Everyone knows where to be and are wrapping up and tackling which is a good progression from what we saw in the 1st week of preseason. David Amerson has another bad play by getting a pass interference call when he was beat. Jim Haslett said "he was in good position after he recovered but panicked" and ran into the receiver before the ball got there and got the flag. EJ Biggers makes a play batting a screen pass to break up a play. Another missed tackle by Amerson but Bryan Kehl had his back by forcing a fumble for another turnover.

        Series 5: Run defense playing well even though the 2nd stringers are playing Buffalo's 1st stringers. Bacarri Rambo was inches away from his first NFL interception but couldn't get his hands on it. On a 3rd and 10 missed tackling showed up when Stevie Johnson slipped a tackle attempt and ran for 12 yards to get the first down. Good pressure on the QB forces a bad throw to force another punt.

        Series 6: Brandon Jenkins almost had a two sack game but couldn't quite get to the QB. On the next play Darryl Tapp gets the sack with a nice bull rush. To end the quarter, David Amerson levels Stevie Johnson with a big hit.

                                           2nd Half

        Series 1: Defense showing good containment keeping the QB from picking up a big gain. Chase Minnifield with a nice tackle just short of the first down marker to force another 3 and out.
        Series 2: Chase Minnifield in perfect position to make a big hit on the running back on a possible screen play. Brandon Jenkins once again getting pressure and forcing a quick throw three yards short of the first down and forces another 3 and out.
        Series 3: Run defense still solid by filling gaps, getting off blocks, and sure tackling. All great signs and defense forces another 3 and out.
        Series 4: Started with good field position after a Buffalo penalty. Jerome Murphy get s beat on a deep route but QB overthrows WR despite being open. Defense held again for another 3 and out. 
        Series 5: Started with great field position after another Buffalo penalty and Chase Minnifield with an almost pick 6 when he jumped the slant route, but the ball was tipped a little before it got to him and he couldn't get his hands on it. Defense again holds to a 3 and out.

        Besides that one bad series when the Buffalo scored, the defense looks poised to be back in the conversation of being a Top 10 or potentially a Top 5 ranked defense if they can continue to get turnovers like they did in 2012. With the added talent and depth on this team and especially the defense, I believe this team is poised to do big things in 2013. If they can have a top ranked defense to go with the already potent offense that looks like it will be even better with Fred Davis, Roy Helu Jr. and Robert Griffin III back healthy, this team in my opinion is a Super Bowl Contender now and beyond this season.
         For all your #Redskins news and football news follow me on Twitter @TattooedScorpio. Don't forget to subscribe to the blog It Is What It Is ....Another Redskins Blog. We appreciate all of your support. As always #HTTR and thanks for reading.

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