Redskins OFFENSE vs The Lions

Formations & Depth Chart

Versus our 11 personnel, Detroit went with their Nickel:


When we went heavy, the Lions usually responded with a 4-4 look that had Cover 3 behind it:


Detroit sometimes messed around with their DL alignments.  Here they have 3 defensive lineman aligned from the left guard to outside the left tackle and the safety is stacked behind them:


In the chart, I called that one, “Nickel Trips DL”

Depth Chart:

  • RT: Moses (73)
  • RG: Scherff (58), backed up by Kouj (15)
  • C: Long (73)
  • LG: Lauvao (73)
  • LT: Williams (72)
  • TE: Davis (71), Paul (12), Nsekhe (11)
  • FB: Paul (7), Kelley (2)
  • RB: Thompson (43), Jones (22), Kelley (8)
  • WR: Garcon (57), DeSean (54), Crowder (55), backed up by Grant (20) and Mo Harris (4)

Rob Kelley got both his Fullback snaps at the goal line.  Scherff missed 15 snaps with an injury and was backed up by Kouj.  Nsekhe is really a 6th offensive lineman, but he’s eligible for a catch when he checks in so I’m classifying him here as a tight end.

The Show

First Drive:

The biggest theme from the 1st drive was missed opportunities.  It started on the third play of the first drive, where we ran Counter on 3rd and 1.  Lauvao and Scherff will eliminate 2 guys each–something that rarely happens at this level–and Niles Paul is left to dig out the most immediate threat as he pulls through the line:


As Paul pulls through he doesn’t see his target coming from the left:


If he did, Matt Jones is one on one with a safety and has a chance to flip field position and/or put us in field goal range.  Instead Paul got blind sided:

We end up getting the first but were so close to getting much more.

[AFTER THE JUMP:  The ‘9-6’ route, Grades, Cliff Notes, and a link to the Chart]

2 plays later Thompson fell down on a perfectly blocked Sweep play but we overcame that with a 19 yard slant to Jamison Crowder and we were set up at midfield.

At midfield we came out in an 5 wide empty set with Chris Thompson lined up to the top of the screen.  He drew a cornerback in coverage which meant somewhere among the other 4 receivers there was a mismatch, it just so happened to be the biggest one possible:


Not only does DeSean have a Strong Safety playing him man to man but the safety thought it would be a great idea to play DeSean in press coverage.  And for whatever reason, the Free Safety thought his services were needed on the other side of the field.

So pre-snap you have DeSean 1-on-1 with a Strong Safety in press coverage with no help over the top:


DeSean beats that safety’s sorry attempt at press coverage and is open for a touchdown.  The throw was never made due to pass protection breaking down.  Ziggy Ansah beat Silverback with an inside move and forced Kirk to move out the pocket before he could pull the trigger.

The next play, on 3rd an 19, we ran the same concept that got us a touchdown the week prior against Philly:


Crowder runs the underneath route to suck up the linebackers’ attention and Davis sneaks in behind them.  It worked but the throw was not made (again) because Cousins was getting pressured up the middle (again) as #61 split between Lauvao and Long.  I minused each guy 0.5 in pass pro since it’s hard to know who was responsible.

After 4 missed opportunities the 1st drive ended in a punt.

Wham:  We ran 4 plays in the “Wham/Trap” package.  2 were runs for 7 yards and 4 yards and 2 were play action passes.  The first was able to free up Garcon deep:


The safeties “spin”–one comes down to the line and the other plays deep–and Garcon is wiiide open.  Instead Kirk throws an incompletion to the covered ‘In’ route at the top of the screen.

The second play action play was actually a split zone play action, but was run from the same formation as the Wham plays.  Cousins hit this throw for 19 yards:

All in all, the Wham package got us 5.5 yards per carry and 9.5 yards per attempt which is pretty efficient and had the potential for a bunch more.

I-Formation:  We also featured an Offset I-Formation package in which we ran outside zone once to the strong side and once to the weak:


Then followed those up with a play action.  The interesting thing being that Kirk never fakes the handoff but because the formation was the same and our O-Line blocked like it was outside zone, the linebackers froze and took 2 steps towards the line.

First Play, Last Drive (The ‘9-6’ Route):

With 16 seconds left we needed to get into field goal range with 2 plays.  The first play we ran was a design that Jaws talked about on NFL Matchup and he called it the ‘9-6’ route because one WR runs a ‘9’ (deep) route and another WR runs a ‘6’ (dig/intermediate) route.  Here’s the play we drew up:

Crowder is going to clear out the deep coverage (9 route) and Davis will suck up the underneath coverage.  Garcon is running the ‘6’ route and is wide open right around midfield:

Another missed opportunity, which brings us full circle.


Offensive Line (vs Run):

Player (Snap Count) + Total
Moses (73) 11.5 5 6.5
Scherff (58) 15.5 6 9.5
Kouj (15) 2 2 0
Long (73) 10.5 4.5 6
Lauvao (73) 10.5 3.5 7
Williams (72) 14 1 13
Nsekhe (11) 3 2 1
Total 43

Morgan Moses was able to excel when we asked him to do the usual down blocking and kick outs.  He’s so strong that once he positions himself and latches onto defenders, that’s it, thanks for playing try again next down:

His issues stem from when we ask him to pull and block in space.  We don’t normally ask him to get outside and target guys at the second level because, well:

Brandon Scherff missed 15 snaps with an injury and still racked up the most pluses on the line.  He got a -3 on the fumble where penetration was the main culprit.  As Chris Speilman pointed out, when you have a cocked nose over the center, the guard needs to combo and punch before releasing to the second level.  Otherwise Scherff dominated for most of the day.  His 2 for 1 block on the counter was shown earlier, he also showed the ability to pull and target defenders (shown above in the first Morgan Moses clip) and execute crucial reach blocks like this one which sealed of the play side tackle and Long’s man as well:

Arie Kouandjio came in for 15 snaps and struggled not just in run blocking but also pass protection.  I’m not too worried about his performance long term since he showed he can be much more effective when given the opportunity to practice with the 1st team all week.

Spencer Long had an okay day, he picked up a bunch of +0.5’s for combo blocks he executed with both guards.  Here, Scherff punches the play side tackle and Long is able to work around and finish a ‘reach’ block.  He doesn’t hold it long enough and his man is able to make the tackle but he got the seal at the line to help spring a 5 yard gain:

Shawn Lauvao‘s 2 for 1 seal out block on the Counter play was shown earlier.  One of his minuses came on the 2nd wham play we ran.  He probably didn’t deserve the full minus as the Lions had the play scouted and were ready for it.  If he was allowed to, Kirk should’ve checked out of that play.

Trent Williams had the least number of run blocking minuses out of the whole line.  He had the best block of the day when he reached around, sealed his man, and then threw him to the ground and erased him from the play:

Tight ends (versus Run):

Davis (71) 13.5 4.5 9
Paul (12TE, 7FB) 2.5 3.5 -1
Total 8

Any worries about Vernon Davis not willing to block can be put to bed, and 6 catches for 79 yards (13.2 yards per catch) lets us know we have a solid back up to the best receiver on our offense.


For the day Kirk finished with his highest grade of the season:

Cousins +25.5 -6.5 +19 (71%)
Pass Pro +28 -10 +18

The minuses on pass pro were as follows:  Kouj -3, Williams -2, Long -1, Davis -1, Moses -1, Lauvao -0.5, Jones -0.5, Scherff -0.5

Kouj got targeted with slants and stunts as soon as he entered the game.  One of Williams’ minuses was more on McVay.

Despite the pass pro miscues Cousins finished with his highest grade of the season:

Steelers 63%
Cowboys 57%
Giants 50%
Browns 67%
Ravens 55%
Eagles 49%
Lions 71%


Cliff Notes

  • Missed opportunities cost us 7 points on the first drive and possibly 3 on the last.
  • Brandon Scherff can do it all: kick out, pull, block down, target linebackers and safeties in space.
  • Moses is limited, he’s more of a “box” player–a damn strong box player, but we probably want to avoid asking him to block in space.
  • Trent Williams is great.
  • Despite iffy pass pro and a couple of misreads, Cousins still had his best game of the season.
  • Since I’m writing this after the Bengals game, a quick note: that ‘9-6′ route was the same route concept we ran on the interception.  The Bengals’ safety (that the ‘9’ and ‘6’ routes were supposed to confuse) bailed deep for DeSean, who had the 9 route, as soon as he saw Crowder dig in for the 6 route.  It looked like the Bengals were ready for that play call.

Chart with all the data.

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