Sunday, October 25, 2009

Strategy and Matchups - WAS


I always want us to win division games, but this week has extra significance. We need a good performance to show that last week was one bad game and nothing more. Winning isn't enough. The offense must come out and play well. Last week's showing was very discouraging. Another game like that from Donovan will lead to talk about whether it's time to bench him for Kolb.

I'm confident that the team will be ready to play, but the Redskins are tough on us. We scored 12 and 33 points against them in 2007. Last year we had 17 and 3. The 33-point game featured 2 long TDs. The other games have lacked big scoring plays. The WAS defense is tough to move the ball on when you have to sustain long drives.

One of the differences from '07 to '08 was our ability to run. Westy had 196 yards in 2007. Last year he had 24 carries for 78 yards. We must be able to run the ball to make the rest of the offense effective. WAS prefers to play their Safeties back if possible. We need to run the ball so that they have to send a guy down in the box. That will open up some passing lanes.

I don't expect us to come out and pound the rock. I do think it is important for us to run more than we did last week. The players will have a lot to do with how much we run. Last week we totaled 15 yards on 7 1st down runs. Marty and Andy won't stick with the run when it isn't working. If only they felt the same way about the passing game. Westy and Shady must get a lot of touches. Our best games vs WAS have come when the RBs were heavily involved.

The player with the most pressure on him will be Donovan McNabb, of course. He was sloppy last week and it cost us a game. Can't have that again. The problem is that WAS isn't a team he generally fares well against. Last year Donnie had 3 straight bad games (NYG, CIN, BAL). Then he turned things around on Thanksgiving. We can't afford a slump like that. We've got 3 straight division games. We must win 2 of 3 to stay close to the top. McNabb has to be decisive and accurate. He needs to run when he sees the chance. Donovan has enough weapons that he no longer has to carry the team. However, he must get the ball to the guys so they can make plays.

Obviously better blocking than last week would help the skill guys quite a bit. The return of Todd Herremans should help. Nick Cole and Max Jean-Gilles struggled. Max will probably head to the bench. Jason Peters missed most of the last week and King Dunlap struggled in his place. Peters will return to LT. The O-line got no push and did a lousy job in pass pro. That must change.

Todd's reward for coming back from an injury? A possible matchup with Albert Haynesworth. Big Al is battling injuries and not a lock to play. I think he'll be out there. After watching us block last week I think dead guys will be coming back to life to get a chance to play against our line. Todd will certainly help us inside. We must control Big Al. No one really shuts him down completely. Andre Carter's speed will be tough on Peters, but hopefully chip blocks will slow him down. Winston Justice will be in for an interesting day. He'll face Phillip Daniels in the base defense and then Brian Orakpo on passing downs. That is size on some plays, speed on others.

I hope we come out and throw some crossing routes to try and get into a rhythm. Let's mix in deep balls. I would love to see Celek, Weaver, Westy, McCoy, and Avant all get their share of throws. Let's move the chains. I know we need some big plays. WAS is too good on D for us to just dink 'n dunk them.

We were dreadful last week on 3rd downs (2 of 16). That will be a key area to watch in this game. 3rd down is the money down in football. We must execute better. This goes on every player in the offense. Everyone had a hand in the problems against Oakland. Guys need to step up and make clutch plays.

We had success early in the first meeting last year with misdirection plays and some creative things. I wonder if this is the week we'll see the Wildcat really play a key role. I've believed all year that the Wildcat was mainly for games where we thought we needed an offensive boost. Since WAS had our number last year this game would make sense.

Our defense probably isn't quite sure what to expect. Sherm Lewis will be calling the plays. The 6 game tapes we have could be pretty meaningless. WAS has used a lot of packages on offense so far. They are expected to cut down on that and use more base personnel. We did the same thing last year and it helped us quite a bit. Lewis is also likely to use more of a vertical passing attack. The Skins have struggled to move the ball consistently. They do have big play ability. Campbell has a big arm and Santana Moss has the speed to get downfield in a hurry.

The base of the Skins offense has been the running game. I assume that will still be true. I think we need to focus on stopping Portis and putting WAS into known passing situations. That puts extra pressure on the OL and Campbell.

LT Stephon Heyer will have his hands full with Trent Cole. We need Trent to win this battle and make plays, vs the run and pass. WAS has run at Trent in the past with some success. VA will miss the game, but Juqua and Clemons are good enough to bring pressure off the left side. Setting the edge will be key vs the run. Having VA would help in this regard.

Chris Gocong will need to be stout on run plays that come his way. Akeem Jordan will be asked to handle the FB quite a bit. He must play well on run plays, whether they come at him or go away. Omar started at WLB last year in the first meeting and was invisible. WAS ran at will in that game.

We get to see the debut of Will Witherspoon at MLB. He will get a big test with the power running of the Redskins. There are a couple of things that help Witherspoon fit in right away. He played in a similar defensive system in St. Louis. Their scheme is run by former Eagles assistant Steve Spagnuolo. There will be some differences, but a veteran like Witherspoon should be able to adjust on the fly. Also, he faced Washington earlier this season. I’m sure he’s given an extensive scouting report to the coaches and his new teammates. The Redskins did run for 125 yards in that game, but scored only nine points.

Spoon could help out with Cooley. Sean McDermott can set the defense so we cover the TE with any number of players. We struggled the last couple of weeks with Winslow and Miller. I'm sure Spoon, Jordan, Gocong, and Macho will take turns trying to cover him.

Moss will be a challenge for the whole secondary. The CBs need to stick to him as closely as possible. The Safeties must stay behind him. We can live with Moss getting a big play if that happens. Just keep him out of the end zone. The difference in last week's game was Miller going for a long TD while our big plays were limited to just big chunks of yards.

We should have an advantage on Special Teams. DeSean ran back a punt for a TD last year against the Skins. We'll take points any way we can get them.


T_S_O_P said...

After the Raiders destruction yesterday by the running Jets, I'd still question the offensive game plan first and foremost which was as you stated abysmally executed.

One part of me expects that we will run the ball more than 25 times tonight maybe over 30. We did this last year after lopsided passing game disasters, I think we'll be quicker with the remedy this time. Though it is never a long term fix as passaholics AR & MM slowly revert to high scoring high powered inconsistent tendencies.

The other part expects a defensive victory and defensive scoring. I'm not sure either can help with QB controversy rumblings and a s a team with aspirations, we can not afford those.

The Old Buffoon said...

So, the Redskins have a strong D and a woeful (in terms of scoring) O, and yet I find myself most concerned about how our D will perform tonight. As crazy as this sounds, this will undoubtedly be the 2nd best offense we've faced so far this year. The Skins have always given us trouble when Portis has success attacking the edges, opening PA for Campbell. No VA, as you mentioned, won't help matters. Zorn's newfound job security, new playcaller in Sherm, and MNF all point to the Skins viewing this game as a possible turnaround pt for the season.

On the other side, I really think that this is the game to finally start running left behind Peters and Herremens. How can that not work? I expect Donovan to be decent, not great, and the O to score around 20. Will that be enough?

Stephen said...

I anticipate we open with a spread set and Mcnabb overthrows Maclin deep left incomplete. The ball will land 5 yards out of bounds. The announcers will then talk about how Mcnabb throws one of the best deep balls in the game.

If I was in Andy's position I would open the game in a power formation and run twice, regardless of the results. Haynesworth might fall over dead of shock, so thats an added benefit to getting our OL some practice on run plays that they are sorely lacking.

I was watching some more Miami and I agree with you Tommy, I love how they run the wildcat. Not a lot of trickery, lots of power and strait ahead type stuff. Ironically that should be the more ball control version of the wildcat, but they actually get far more big plays out of it than we get out of our more "creative" shall we say version.

I was at a party on saturday night and someone was telling me that the reason the Eagles are losing is because we aren't starting Vick as the quarterback. He also told me he bought his phone from a crackhead in north philly so take it for what its worth.

Boyboy said...

Is anybody else outraged that this game could be for sole possession of first place in the division had we not blown last week's game to the Raiders? I can't say that enough: we blew last week's the RAIDERS.

That's right, add another notch to Andy's coaching belt. 5 conference championship games, 1 Super Bowl appearance, and the most prestigious notch of them all: being out-coached by Tom Cable.

As for this game, I'm not convinced the Eagles can win. You can argue that the team that beat us twice last year is even better on defense this year. There is still talent on the Redskins' offense. And, it's a division game at home...they're not going to roll over and play dead.

And, if the Eagles lose and they drop to 3rd place in the division, I think it is time to seriously start talking about replacing Reid. Let's face it, his coaching is just as much responsible for the Eagles not winning a championship as it for getting us in position each year. Plus, we stumbled into our last two playoff runs (06 & 08) because of choke jobs by Dallas and Tampa.

Yeah...I'm bored while waiting for the game. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Big Red...I just mildly dislike him. Doesn't mean I don't want the Birds to win...