FFODC Looks At Baltimore

Against Their Offense:

Football Outsiders has the Ravens ranked 27th in Offense DVOA, so if the Skins are ever going to iron out their issues on defense it better be this week.

Baltimore usually operates out of 11 (1RB, 1TE) personnel:


with an occasional deployment of beefier personnel on early downs:


I’d prefer not to see the latter given our struggles with the interior of our 3-4 defense.  If Baltimore stays true to form and sticks to 11, then Kerrigan/Murphy and Smith should be able to wreak havoc out of our Nickel defense.  Rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley is listed as doubtful which means Preston Smith will be lined up against his replacement, rookie left guard Alex Lewis (72.)  Yes please.

Our underneath zone coverage will be put to the test with Cravens out this weekend.  Thankfully, large chunks of the Ravens’ passing game consists of Joe Flacco–30th in yards per attempt–staring blankly down field before dumping it off to his outlet receivers in the flats.

Baltimore’s run game is mainly inside zone.  This does mean lots of interior double teams but it also means we shouldn’t see as much of the pesky pulling guards like we did against the Giants and Browns.  Ricky-Jean Francois is pretty comfortable at dissolving zone blocks and can do that thing where he blasts into the backfield and disrupts the timing of the play.

Good News:  Preston Smith, Murphy/Kerrigan and Francois should be adding to their TFL totals this week.

Bad News:  Man beast Marshal Yanda and Center Jeremy Zuttah will probably find a favorable double team match up versus Ziggy Hood.  It could lead to some demoralizing yards on the ground.

Against Their Defense:

On defense, the Ravens line up the same way we do: Nickel versus 11 personnel and 3-4 against heavier formations.

Jernigan might be doing a lot of this tomorrow
Jernigan might be doing a lot of this tomorrow

The middle of the line is the strength this defense.  Timmy Jernigan (99) is the star up front, he and nose tackle Brandon Williams (98) are tough to move.  Scherff, Long, and Kouj/Lauvao will have their hands full all game.  Outside runs can help to slow down the Ravens interior and it just so happens outside zone is our bread and butter.  We might be able to find some success inside when rookie backup nose tackle Michael Pierce (78) enters the game.  His mobility is limited and he can be moved with one-on-one blocks–a junior Pot Roast.

On the back end, inside linebacker CJ Mosley (57) could be susceptible to play action, especially out of our heavier formations.  Behind him, cornerback Shareece Wright (24) is struggling.  He got burned against Cleveland and was beat multiple times last week versus Michael Crabtree.  Paging Desean Jackson, we need you to toast this guy real quick.  The only question mark is if Cousins will be willing and able to test the Ravens deep.

Good News:  Any time Desean is lined up across Shareece Wright in Cover 3 or one-on-one, Cousins gets the Rex Grossman F**k It I’m Going DeepTM seal of approval.

Bad News:  They are ranked 4th in Defense DVOA.  Spencer Long might have a bad day.

Elsewhere:  Odds Shark’s computer predicts the Ravens win 28-15.4, which ok I’m sure that’s useful to somebody.  Ravens are favored by 4, over/under is set at 45.5.  Hogs Haven interviews a Ravens’ blog.


Injury Report

Full injury report is here–and it’s sponsored!  (Wtf!)

Baker and Jenkins are full go, meaning our line will not die and has a fighting chance in the first half.

Breeland and Phillips are both out.  Somehow Dunbar has been coached up to ‘viable NFL corner’ status, he and Toler should see plenty of playing time in Breeland’s absence.  Zone coverage has helped to hide any deficiencies either corner might have.

Cravens is out, Kerrigan is questionable.  Su’a has emerged into a bonafide playmaker in coverage.   Run defense should stay the same without him.  Which is to say Compton will continue to get run over and safeties will be hanging back covering the world’s longest developing flea flicker.

Dashaun Phillips is out.  Rookie Kendall Fuller should get another shot at his slot CB spot.  Last week didn’t produce enough data for us to know if their is any drop off in coverage between the two.  I guess not getting burned by Cody Kessler is a starting point.

Lauvao is questionable.   Kouj was solid last week, flashing ability to combo block on outside zone.  He’ll have a stiffer test tomorrow if he’s asked to fill in again.

FFODC Gets Cut

Hey hey hey, Goodbye:  DL Kendall Reyes and SS David Bruton won’t see the field again this season as a Redskin.  Reyes was cut and Bruton placed on IR.  It looks like replacements for Reyes will come from within the organization with Ioannidis and/or rookie Anthony Lanier seeing more playing time.

Reyes becomes the second failed free agent signing along the defensive line under General Manager Scot McCloughan in the past two offseasons.

Reyes’ departure doesn’t effect much. We couldn’t rely on him when he had max health so a slightly tired Baker, Hood, Jenkins or Francois should be an upgrade. Not enough data is in on Ioannidis or rookie Anthony Lanier but the fact that neither could beat out Hood or Reyes for playing time doesn’t bode well.

Help at safety is coming from outside the organization with Donte Whitner and Josh Evans being signed to the team.   Do they understand how run defense works?  We will find out!

Whitner began his career with the Buffalo Bills. He most recently had played in 2015, with the Browns, but didn’t spend training camp or the preseason with any team.

Perry Fewell was his coach in Buffalo FWIW.  Blackmon will be slotted as the coverage safety while Whitner will be asked to put his nose in the box and hit people.  It could be interesting to see if and how offenses line up to force our safeties to switch roles.  In the short term, Nacho will be the nominal SS while Whitner figures out this defense.

Keim:  Keim does talent evals on guys Scotty Mac has brought in over the past 2 seasons…the returns aren’t good.  Everything he says is pretty on point, the only disagreement I have:

[Hood] would be much better used at end than nose tackle, but the Redskins do not have a true nose so that’s where he’s playing. It’s not Hood’s fault this area wasn’t addressed

We don’t really get to dictate if he’s an End or 3 tech. Teams motion and force our lineman inside where they are prone to double teams. In the 3-4 we can offer him some protection from that.  In Nickel, during early downs, he’ll have to play over centers and guards and endure doubles.

I lol’d:  Chris Cooley has an opinion on our quarterbacks.

Your Moment Of Zen:

Redskins OFFENSE vs The Browns

credit: MGoBlog.com for the idea to do these


We usually lined up in 11 (1RB, 1TE) personnel, but also threw in a few heavier formations throughout the game.  In the first drive we came out in 12 (1 RB, 2 TE) personnel:


with a WR split out wide to either side.  The Browns dropped a safety into the box and played Cover 3–meaning the 2 cornerbacks and 1 free safety (off the screen) played deep coverage.  Cousins attacked this by throwing quick 3 step drops to Garcon and Desean on the outside.  On 3 back to back plays it picked him up 9, 3(first down), and 5 yards.

Continue reading “Redskins OFFENSE vs The Browns”

Redskins DEFENSE vs The Browns


Note:  A brief overview of our ‘Nickel’ and ‘3-4’ formations can be found here

Cleveland started the game in 11 (1RB, 1TE) personnel and we responded with our Nickel package which had Compton lined up to the passing strength (2 WR side):


When the Browns brought in a fullback or extra tight end we responded with our 3-4:


Notice Compton is away from the passing strength and is lined up over the guard and tackle.  The thicker and stouter Foster (aka Rumble) is lined up over the ‘A’ gap in between the center and guard.

We got a little whacky with our 3-4 alignment on this play as we slid Baker over to defensive end.  We stood up Preston Smith, moved him around and then sent him blitzin’:

Continue reading “Redskins DEFENSE vs The Browns”

FFODC Checks In On The Offense

The bread and butter of our run game has been the outside zone run.  (This video shows outside zone and it's blocking assignments.)   It has afforded us the ability to horizontally stretch out defenses and compliment play action looks for Cousins that allow him easy throws downfield.

The reads for Matt Jones on this outside zone run are 3 fold:


[After the jump: Cousins…Play action…More arrows!]

Continue reading “FFODC Checks In On The Offense”

FFODC Looks At Our Formations

In the ‘Breakdown’ posts I usually start with a Lining Up section that shows formations we used and how we matched up our personnel.  Below are our 2 main formations:

3-4 defense:


Rotation at each position (parenthesis notes lesser playing time):

  • DT:  Baker, Jenkins, Hood, Francois, Reyes, (Lanier, Ioannidis)
  • OLB:  Smith, Kerrigan, Murphy, (Bates)
  • LB: Compton, Foster, (Cravens, Spaight)
  • Safeties:  Bruton, Ihenacho, Blackmon, (Everett)
  • CB:  Norman, Breeland, (Toler, Dunbar, Phillips, Fuller)

The defensive line has 5 guys, 3 of which are space eating 300+ pound defensive lineman (labeled as DT) who usually require a temporary double team if the offense wants to run the ball and move them off the line.  Unless the offense wants to keep in 8 blockers, it is impossible to double team all 3 of our DTs without letting one of our 5 guys at the line run free.  This forces the offense to block one of our DTs one-on-one and that is where the advantage of this formation lies.  This 5 man front is called an “under” front and is built to stop the run.  Our outside linebackers are essentially defensive ends but with a few more coverage responsibilities.

When Do We Use This Formation:  When the offense sends out 2 wide receivers or less.

Nickel Defense:


Rotation at each position:

  • DT:  Baker, Jenkins, Hood, (Francois, Reyes)
  • DE:  Kerrigan, Smith, Murphy, (Bates)
  • LB:  Compton, Foster, (Cravens, Spaight)
  • Safeties:  Bruton, Ihenacho, Blackmon, (Everett)
  • CB:  Norman, Breeland (Toler, Dunbar, Phillips, Fuller)
  • Slot CB: Phillips, (Fuller, Norman, et al)

This formation can also be called a 4-2-5, since there are 4 defensive lineman, 2 linebackers and 5 defensive backs.  We have morphed from a 3-4 to a 4-2-5 by removing one 300+ pound DT and adding a cornerback.  Our outside linebackers have converted do defensive ends by putting their hand in the ground.

The defensive line is in an “over” look.  This is more of a balanced look with 2 defensive lineman on either side of the center.  It is not as dominant versus the run as an “under”–now the offense has the numbers to double team both DTs–but it does allow us to play more defensive backs while still covering gaps up front.  Our converted defensive ends now have fewer pass coverage responsibilities.

Slot CB is our shiftiest corner not named Norman.  He’s a guy that can deal with quicker wide receivers like Cole Beasley and Jamison Crowder.  The slot CB’s specialty is dealing with guys that can get in and out of cuts quickly.  Sometimes we will move a regular CB here for match up reasons.

When Do We Use This Formation:  When the offense has 3 wide receivers.  If a 4th wide receiver comes into the game, we sub out Foster for Cravens.  Cravens plays with linebacker responsibilities at Safety speed which allows him to play more comfortably in space.

Continue reading “FFODC Looks At Our Formations”

FFODC Looks at Cleveland

We Have The Meats:  Chris Baker wanted bigger bodies on defense near the goal line last week.  He should see more space eaters up front against the Browns because they like to go with a heavy personnel since they don’t want to see their quarterbacks throw and die.  Against the Dolphins they ran a lot of 2 tight end and 2 back sets:



I’d expect us to be in a 3-4 look for most of the game.  Cleveland looks to be an offense that doesn’t know what they have and are trying anything and everything.  It’s lawlessness in the upstairs booth!  Last week, Miami loaded 8 in the box and dared the Browns to throw so Cleveland ran a lot of misdirection plays such as “Counter”, shown here:



in an attempt to find breathing room with their run game.  With Pryor in, they ran zone reads and used a multitude of zone and gap blocking schemes as they attempted to figure out what worked best.  Their should be a lot of option-like assignment football against the run this week for our front 7.

The passing game looked laughable with Kessler and Pryor taking turns throwing ducks and jump balls.  Kessler seemed to be pretty locked in on Pryor so if Norman can eliminate him and Preston Smith can do Preston Smith things then we should be in business.

What to watch for when we are on defense?  Hood versus double teams, linebackers versus misdirection and safeties filling correctly versus run.  The Skins have a tough assignment against the run but I’d expect them to hold the passing game in check.

Advanced Stats:  Football Outsiders’ DVOA rankings are out for week 3.  Bad news:  Philly is number 1.  Good news:  It’s because they’ve been playing crappy teams.  Better news:  one of those crappy teams is Cleveland!  The Browns check in dead last at number 32.

Not Sure If Serious:  PFF ranked their top 10 players from week 3 and OH HAI THERE, former Skins corner David Amerson comes in at number 1.  Meanwhile, Browns’ outside linebacker Nate Orchard was ranked the worst at his position for week 3.

Preston Smith got our defense’s 2nd highest grade :

he registered two hurries, batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage, and made four solo tackles, all of them being run stops. He also did not miss any tackles

I had him checking in with the 3rd highest grade behind Kerrigan and Norman.  Notably absent from both our top grades: Trent Murphy, which makes his 50/50 snap count split with Smith seem a bit odd.

Offensive Line Shake Ups:  We sign center John Sullivan to the roster after losing starter Kory Lichtensteiger to IR.  We had a different back up center to start the year but then:

Austin Reiter made the initial 53-man roster, but was inactive in the Sept. 12 season opener against Pittsburgh. The Redskins cut Reiter the next day and re-signed him to the practice squad. But the Cleveland Browns signed Reiter to their 53-man roster last Tuesday.

Ironically, he will be in uniform this weekend when Cleveland plays the Redskins at FedEx Field

I hope he hasn’t reported to the Browns’ staff regarding any practice snafus with coaches quitting, buildings set ablaze, and Bruton entering an existential crisis after it was discovered teams like to run Power in the NFL.  FWIW rumblings out of practice indicate Spencer Long has been getting snaps at center and it looks like he’ll be slotted as our starter.

Too Good Not To Mention:  247sports pays homage to Les Miles’ career the only way you can: by reliving his best quotes.

Breakdown: Defense vs Giants (I)

Lining Up:

Giants stayed in 11 (1 RB, 1TE) personnel the whole way and we responded with our Nickel defense:


Compton stayed aligned to the side that had more wide receivers.  Fancy people call it the ‘field’ or ‘passing strength’.  It tends to be the side of the field with more space when the ball is lined up on the hash:


He’s lighter and can cover more ground than Foster and has a better grasp of zone drops than Cravens, so it looks like no matter which linebacker he’s on the field with the coaches will ask him to stay lined up to the passing strength.

I might have missed it, but I didn’t see a 3-4 defense one time in this game.

On With The Show:


The Giants ran a play some people call “Power” which allows for a double team to the side the running back runs toward and has an offensive lineman pull and lead the back through a hole.  The Giants usually doubled our 3 technique (lined up in between the guard and tackle) and pulled the backside guard as shown above.  They ran it versus Dallas in Week 1:


and Dallas chose to keep 2 safeties back and defend the Power play with 6 in the box:

The Giants running backs profited as Vereen finished that game with 6.3 yards per carry and Jennings with 4.2 yards per carry.  The following week the Giants played New Orleans and the Saints tweaked things around a bit:


They consistently brought down a safety and played with 7 in the box, blitzed linebackers and changed up their fronts to match up with and confuse the Giants’ Power blocks:

Vereen finished that game with 3.0 ypc and Jennings with 2.1 ypc.  Guess which game plan we picked!

Continue reading “Breakdown: Defense vs Giants (I)”

FFODC Preps For Saturday

Attack of the Crab people:

Brandon Herring on Twitter

Stanford and @mbloom11 taking pad level to a new place


DMV’s Other Team:  247sports currently has the 2017 Football Turtles ranked as the 17th(!) best recruiting class in the country.  Coach Durkin’s staff has been putting in work trying to catch up with the blue bloods on the trail.  They’ve been pulling out all the stops like invading SEC country and doing things the previous staff wouldn’t such as looking out their front door:

Maryland football’s class of 2016 was its first in eight years to include a player from local powerhouse DeMatha Catholic High School, located just down the road from campus.

Seriously Edsall, what the hell were you doing all those years?

Keim:  Skins players go full Belichick and reduce their problems on defense to not doing their jobs.  Some of the issues boil down to bad zone coverage.  This particular play:


was left out of this site’s Breakdown post because I felt it was being too hard on Compton, but lo and behold he called himself out on it.


Football Study Hall has a report on the relationship between team talent and performance.  Some results are obvious, others not so much.

Capping rookie contracts has burdened the NFL with an age problem