Skins DEFENSE vs Cowboys (I)


We stuck to our base formations and got penetration against their zone runs with slants:

That’s our 3-4 with a huge gap inside of Smith; we are baiting them to run it there.

McClain and Hood slant toward the top of the screen widening that gap and Compton fired right into it.  The scheme sets up Compton for a TFL or at the very least he should force the RB to cut it back, which is what ends up happening:

Notice McGee’s stunt (red), it looks like he’s getting punished off the line but he’s actually taking a defender with him and opening up a path for the guy outside of him to handle any cutbacks.

No defensive lineman playing middle linebacker like the last two weeks, just guys lining up where they normally do and stressing the offensive line with movement.

What Happened

Turnovers and special teams overrode a defensive effort that was good enough to win the game.

Drive 1:  Fumble.

Drive 2:  This was the drive where they got us.  They burned us with play action and set up on our 13:

Witten is coming across the formation and both our backers need to bump down a gap as an adjustment to that.  Spaight (yellow) does so, Brown (red) does not:

Between the play actions and run fits, we downloaded what Dallas showed us on this drive and adjusted.

Drive 3: missed FG attempt.

Drive 4:  Punt.

Drive 5:  Started at the 1 yard line thanks to the blocked FG.

Drive 6:  Punt.

Drive 7:  FG.

Drive 8:  started on our 26, gained -4 yards, ended in a FG.

Drive 9:  Had to insert Everett into the line up and they picked on him right away.  Still only gave up a FG.

Drive 10:  Brown got a dumb Unnecessary Roughness penalty, still only gave up a FG.

Drive 11:  Punt.

That’s one touchdown from a drive where we downloaded everything they did and four field goals, one of which came on a drive that lost four yards.

Against a playoff team without Breeland, Foster and Allen that is still a performance you can win with.  Dallas shut it down on the last two drives with 13 runs for 48 yards good enough for 3.7 ypc.  If Zach Brown doesn’t commit a boneheaded unnecessary roughness penalty both of those drives end in punts.


The Show

Defensive Line
Player + Total
Ioannidis 3.5 0 3.5
McGee 2 2 0
Hood 6 10.5 -4.5
McClain 3.5 4.5 -1
Lanier 3 0 3
Total     1
Pressure 8 7 1
+ plays are good. 
- plays are bad.

If it's a ho-hum play, like a 3 yard gain on first down, then usually nobody will do worse or better than -1 or +1. But give up a 64 yard touchdown (-4) or get a TFL/Sack (+2) and I go higher in either direction.

Pressure: Did the quarterback comfortably hold onto the ball for longer than 3 seconds: -1. Did the QB feel pressure in 3 seconds or less? +1

In the preview, one of the key match-ups was Ziggy Hood vs outside zone runs and the result in this game was that he struggled a lot.

The formula to open up a huge hole on our defense:

  • get Hood flowing sideways
  • then wham him with a second blocker:

On this next play Everett fails to come down in the box (and gets a scolding from DJ after the play) but also Hood gets taken out with the same formula as above:

we’ll see how he holds up next week, I’d imagine Seattle is going to run these stretch plays with a design to target him.  FWIW McGee was inserted at nose tackle on the last drive and had similar problems.

Ioannidis and Allen were two of the best against these types of runs, it will be up to the linebackers to shut these down until we get them back.

Anthony Lanier had a sneaky good game at 3 and 5 technique.  He’s not going to solve our issues at nose, but if McGee or McClain go down he looks more than able to pick up where they left off.

Players + Total
Galette 1 2.5 -1.5
Spaight 0.5 8 -7.5
Compton 4 7.5 -3.5
Anderson 1 3.5 -2.5
Brown 9.5 5.5 4
Kerrigan 7 4.5 2.5
Smith 6 0 6
Total     -2.5

Martrell Spaight struggled with zone reads, here he just reads it wrong and thinks it’s a QB keeper:

and here he’s late bumping down a gap, ends up peeking inside and eats a block:

Normally run reads are Spaight’s forte, it’s tackling in space and coverage that he’s struggled with.  Hopefully this game remains an outlier for the season.

While Spaight and the interior of the defensive line struggled, Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan continued to be matchup problems.  Here is Smith wasting Witten’s block and meeting Brown in the backfield:

If there is any way to upgrade our defensive interior, we could easily be a top 5 rushing defense with the pieces we have on the outside.

Defensive Backs
Player + Total
Norman 2 0 2
DJ 4.5 4.5 0
Fuller 1 2.5 -1.5: Minuses came in run D
Nicholson 1 3.5 -2.5
Dunbar 2 4 -2: got beat early, recovered late
Everett 0 3 -3: looked lost out there
Total     -7
Coverage 15 15 0

We got to see Nicholson play his first snap at something other than deep safety in a long time and while he was a little robotic with the technique, it was good enough bracket coverage for Dak to come off the read:

Everett was the only one with issues in coverage, everyone else was fine.  Dunbar struggled early with Dez but got it  together by the second half.

Predictions From Last Week

  1. Preston Smith gets PFF’s highest grade on the defense
    • Yes, and finished with the highest grade for the whole team
  2. Dez finishes with less than 50 yards receiving and under 10.0 ypc
    • 4 catches for 39 yards, good for 9.8 ypc.
  3. Dak pulls off one miracle downfield play
    • uh, no.  He had a couple of QB keepers but those were on Spaight and not really miracles.

What Does It Mean For Seattle?

  • Expect to see plenty of outside zone runs as they test out Hood in the middle.  Good news: they rank 28th in rushing DVOA.
  • Also expect at least a couple of zone reads when Spaight is in the game, just to see if he’s fixed whatever vision problems he had.
  • Outside of Doug Baldwin I’m not seeing any threats Norman, Fuller and co. can’t handle.  But if the first two bullet points end badly for us, then play action becomes a problem.

Your Moment of Zen:

Our Wednesday injury report:

Chad Ryan on Twitter

Redskins on Wednesday’s injury report: Z. Brown Crowder Ioannidis Lauvao Long Nsekhe Paul Reed Scherff Williams Breeland Kelley Nicholson Spaight Clemmings Compton Everett Kerrigan Moses Norman Pryor #Redskins on IR Allen Bowen Foster Hopkins Murphy Marshall Taylor 280 chars