Skins DEFENSE vs Rams

Play by Play Chart



Our Nickel line: Kerrigan-Ioannidis-Allen-Smith.  Ioannidis and Allen lined up directly over the guards to take away any Outside Zone and Power runs.

Last week McVay dialed up about a dozen Outside Zone runs, but against this formation he didn’t try it once.  When they did run outside it was away from Jonathan Allen who showed last week against Philly he could run that stuff down.

To the top of the screen you see the WRs in a stack formation, they rolled that out a ton.  We played it with Fuller underneath, since he’s the screen destroyer our DB coach Torrian Gray built.


The 3-4 had a starting line of McGee-Hood-McClain flanked by Anderson and Galette.  McGee lines up over Tackles and tight ends, McClain over the guard and Hood is at nose.

We rotated the defensive ends and OLBs somewhat, but for the most part Kerrigan and Smith had their hand in the dirt in our Nickel front, while Anderson and Galette were stand up OLBs in our 3-4.

Positions that seem set:

  • 3-4 Line: Anderson-McGee-Hood-McClain-Galette
  • Nickel Line: Kerrigan-Ioannidis-Allen-Smith
  • Inside Backers: Brown and Foster
  • Corners: Norman and Breeland backed up by Dunbar
  • Slot Corner: Fuller
  • Free Safety: DJ Swearinger

Strong Safety is the lone question mark.  It looks to be a two-way battle between Everett and Nicholson with rookie Fabian Moreau working his way in for a couple of snaps.  In week 1 it was Everett’s job to lose, as it stands now the winner of that battle might be whoever makes the fewest mistakes.

The Show

Defensive Line
Player + Total
Ioanndis 4.5 0.5 4
McGee 1.5 4.5 -3
Hood 0.5 1.5 -1
Allen 2 2 0
Smith 6 1.5 4.5
Kerrigan 6.5 0 6.5
McClain 1 3 -2
Totals     9

If it weren’t for Smith and Kerrigan getting pressure the line would’ve finished on the wrong side of zero.  The interior doesn’t have a QB terror like Jason Hatcher or Chris Baker just yet, the closest guy is Ioannidis who charted a couple of pressures.  He’s been holding up to doubles against zone runs and the QB pressures are a pleasant surprise, the only knock on his game is speed to the outside:

The guard doesn’t even check him on his way to sealing out Foster.  The center had the impossible task of cutting him which tells me the plan was to beat him with speed.  I contrasted that with a clip from last week where Allen was sliding down the line, fighting off blocks and making plays at the sideline.  That right there is why they didn’t poke at the beast.

[After the jump:  Coverages, linebackers, predictions]

Hood is a legit NFL nose–something we couldn’t say last year, between him and Ioannidis we got a couple of guys who can plug up the middle and hold up to doubles.

Allen is on an upward trajectory.  I’ll bet a dollar that if anyone is going to generate a consistent interior pass rush this year it’ll be between Ioannidis and the rookie.

The only guy who might be a liability is McGee.  On the 69-yarder he lost contain on his pass rush allowing Goff to scramble outside the pocket and find the open wheel route.  On the goalline he was the primary culprit on the 1 yard touchdown run–not exactly what you’d expect from a 341 pounder.  Versus zone runs he got blown off the line and made decisions:

that earned him a scolding from Zach Brown.  He shot a gap Brown had covered, which opened up a cutback lane and instead of 3rd and long it was 3rd and 1.

On the whole this line was solid and Tomsula has them playing better than expectations would dictate.  It’s an ok-to-solid interior flanked by good pass rushers/edge setters in Kerrigan and Smith.  We probably need maximum return on our 1st round pick if we want to see something more than “ok” from the inside.

Players + Total
Brown 7.5 6 1.5
Foster 10 5.5 4.5
Galette 0 1 -1
Anderson 0 1 -1
Totals     4

Zach Brown continues to flash athleticism usually reserved for DBs which allows him to screw with blocking schemes vs the run; yes he gets out of position but there is a method to his madness.

Versus this Counter he draws his blocker down the line and then takes on the pulling HBack essentially cancelling out 2 guys by himself:

Foster is left unblocked and free to make the stop.  (Last year our Nickel front couldn’t stop anybody.  See Compton versus the Giant’s Power game if you need a refresher on why Brown is the MVP of this defense.)

Pass defense is another story.  Almost all the minuses for this corps came on zones that were left vacated.  Exhibit A:

Norman is man-to-man on the inside.  Outside of him Fuller makes an “under” call on his man (circled) meaning he is passing him off to a Linebacker underneath.  No one is there.  Between Foster and Brown, one has the RB and the other is blitzing.  Whoever is blitzing is leaving a vacated zone behind him that Fuller is expecting to be covered.  The back 7 is confused on who is doing what, that’s at least 50% on the coaches.

Exhibit B: Brown covers a crosser that is already picked up by Breeland in man to man coverage, leaving Gurley wide open in the flat:

Either Breeland was supposed to fall off that guy or Brown is; between those two someone left the flat wide open.  I’m leaning towards Brown here as Breeland has usually been tasked with man coverage against those crossers.

Exhibit C:  Flat zone is left wide open again and this time it costs us 6:

Possible culprits:

  • Breeland is supposed to be playing cover 2 and has flat, but instead plays quarters.
  • Galette is supposed to come off his QB rush and cover the releasing RB.
  • DJ is expected to take flat if Seam isn’t threatened.  In that case, they dialed up the perfect play and missed tackles got us.

Brown got minused because he’s covering dirt in his hook-zone drop.  He needs to bump over and get underneath the WR whose turned and facing the quarterback.

There are probably a half dozen more wtf zone coverages I could have clipped, some cost us 20-30 yards while most didn’t hurt us since Goff has no idea what he’s doing.  Competent zone coverage didn’t occur until the last 3 drives when we stopped blitzing our safeties and inside backers.


Defensive Backs
Player + Total
Norman 6 2 4
DJ 0.5 1.5 1
Fuller 4 3 1, Obliterates screens
Nicholson 0 3 -3
Everett 0 1.5 -1.5
Breeland 0 5 -5, two big missed tackles.  Coverage was fine
Moreau 0 4 -4, responsible for the fake punt conversion
Totals -7.5

‘Jet motion’ with Tavon Austin was featured in a package of plays that tested our safety discipline.  They ran the Jet on the first play of the game to see how we would defend it.  Once they saw we were bringing the safety down, they dialed up play action to attack that:

Nicholson comes crashing down and once he sees it’s play action, he rushes the quarterback.  The TE (circled) is left wide open and Brown is left covering 2 dudes under him.  Pressure plus Goff missing the read bails us out, but Nicholson is either not supposed to be blitzing or someone behind him should have picked up the vacated route runner caused by the blitz.  It’s usually the rookie who messes these things up so the minus was given to Nicholson.

They adjusted later in the game by letting the corner play flat coverage while the safeties stayed back (bottom of the screen):

And yes that is Brown vacating his zone and covering the one Norman already has.  If the WR to the top was a better route runner he would’ve adjusted his In route to hit that open hole in coverage.

Coverage and Pressure metric for weeks 1 and 2:

Coverage 12 20 -8
Pressure 8 3 5
Week 1  
Coverage 13 24 -11
Pressure 8 8 0

Pressure went up this week thanks to Ioannidis, Smith and Kerrigan.  Coverage is…check back later.

Last Weeks Predictions:

  • Allen will probably be tested with trap and wham blocks until he proves he can handle them.
    • Eh, they ran 1 trap play that got him, but it was on 2nd and 17.  In the Nickel front, they avoided outside runs his way
  • Ionnandis and Hood version 2.0: Thanks Tomsula
    • Yes, still holds.
  • Underneath crossers and wheel routes are the scariest to watch right now as the back 7 adjust to the new zone drops.
    • This didn’t change.  The 69 yarder was a wheel route that Foster didn’t know he was responsible for.  Someone needs to get this fixed or Tomsula might be in line for a promotion.
  • We aren’t giving up any easy yards on WR screens
    • They tried it once.  Fuller blew it up.
  • We don’t play a Zach Ertz in week 2, that gives Everett a break.
    • Coaches seem desperate to find anyone who will win this spot.  Just based off of post game talk, Gruden seems to like Nicholson because he’s 6’2 215.
  • Holy crap Zach Brown, where have you been all my life.
    • Not a prediction but yes.  This was correct.

What Does It Mean For the Future?

  • That back 7 needs to figure out how to cover zones because David Carr is not Jared Goff.  Solution #1:  Stop blitzing the safeties and inside backers.
  • Oakland is averaging 144 yards rushing per game, good for top 5 in the league.  If Foster can’t go and Compton is in the game, look for them to put us in our Nickel front in an attempt to gash us with Power runs going his way.
  • Someone busts a coverage early leading to either a should’ve-been big play or a big play.  It gets corrected.
  • McGee is the guy they target when they go into heavy formations.
  • Everett makes the fewest mistakes.  Wins the Strong safety job by game’s end.
  • Fuller gets a TFL on an outside screen, Kerrigan and Allen each get a sack.

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