The lack of adjustments made by Head Coach Jay Gruden and Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky have been at the forefront of Washington’s issues for the last few seasons. It was never more apparent than after last week’s game against Philadelphia.
After the first half against the Eagles, Washington was up 20-7, only to surrender 25 unanswered points. A late garbage time touchdown reception by Trey Quinn saved the Redskins from a scoreless second half. The Redskins have refused to attack when they have the lead, which has led to many of their disappointing losses.
During the 9/9/19 Redskins presser, Jay Gruden made it clear he wasn’t happy with the defensive performance versus Philadelphia, with a lack of halftime adjustments.
“The corners played too far off and need to get closer. Some miscommunications were a problem and need to be cleaned up.”
The Redskins face a hot Cowboys team who is coming off a blowout win over the Giants. Their confidence will be high and the expected big Cowboy fan turnout at FedEx field will only boost their morale. The home field advantage will not play much of a role in this game, nor has it for years now.
Halftime adjustments are key for this Redskins team and staying aggressive on both sides of the ball is imperative.
Many fans witnessed some impressive contributions from the youngsters versus Philadelphia, with rookie ILB Cole Holcomb and second year OLB Casanova McKinzy. Although free agent addition Jon Bostic did some good things last week, Holcomb seems like a better pairing with Shaun Dion Hamilton and adds a more athletic 3-down linebacker, that can cover sideline-to-sideline. Holcomb also has the ability to spy Cowboy playmakers Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliot, which will be imperative for Washington to have any chance at beating Dallas.
As for McKinzy, he recorded the lone Washington sack last week and the Redskins need to find more ways to get him on the field. The Redskins’ edge rushers were non-existent against Philadelphia and losing DE John Allen hurt their ability to get off blocks. In particular, Montez Sweat had an unproductive outing. The Redskins continued to utilize only 3 or 4 man fronts which did the rookie pass rusher no favors. McKinzy is not a full-time starter, but utilizing his skill set and giving Kerrigan more breathers could rejuvenate this stagnant pass rush. The defense seemed gassed during the 4th quarter last week and forming a better rotation at OLB is imperative.
Play calling, Technique and Philosophy
Although head coach Jay Gruden is not a fan of hurry up or up-tempo play calling, this needs to change to keep up with modern day NFL defenses. Dallas can hurt an offense in a variety of ways with their star linebackers taking center stage. Giving those linebackers extra time to set up has killed Washington and other teams. A rhythm based passing game is what Gruden emphasizes, but that can also be done with an up-tempo game plan.
Case Keenum finished last week with a 117.6 QB rating and only took 1 sack. However, look for Dallas to apply more pressure which will result in Keenum having less time to survey the field. Gruden won’t have Jordan Reed or Derrius Guice and will need to be creative against a tough Dallas defense.
Utilizing quick game concepts with screens, crossing routes and most importantly playing to Adrian Peterson’s strengths. This means less runs out of shotgun and more runs from under center with some I-formation sprinkled in. Peterson will be running angry after his first career healthy scratch, last week, and feeding him the ball will lead to more play action, which led to a lot of Keenum’s 1st half success versus Philadelphia.
Although Chris Thompson is a weapon for the Redskins, his skills would be better utilized in the passing game. Getting him matched up against a linebacker should open up the field for Keenum, with McLaurin sure to garner the most attention by the Cowboys defense.
Former Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall discussed some of the team’s coverage woes versus Philadelphia on his recent Podcast. He called out Josh Norman and even put his technique into question.
“Get your eyes off the quarterback and focus on the receiver.”
Norman will need to do better as will rookie sensation Jimmy Moreland. With Fabian Moreau & Quinton Dunbar possibly out a lot could fall on the rookie. Playing less zone coverage and keeping the defensive backs closer to the line will be imperative, otherwise Dallas will kill Washington with crossing routes.
The common theme here is–Washington must be more aggressive, particularly in the second half. Gruden will need to utilize AP while also calling an aggressive downfield passing game. Manusky will need his unit in attack mode, while limiting the cushion the DB’s give receivers. Utilizing the abilities of Holcomb & Moreland in passing situations, could help this team get off the field on third downs.
Turnovers and sacks will be key against Dallas and a change in philosophy could go a long way.
By Adam Aniba
Follow on Twitter @TheBandGreport
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