Skins DEFENSE vs The Cowboys (II)


Versus this two tight end set we went with a Nickel front instead of the usual 3-4.  There are five guys playing at linebacker depth and I think it may have screwed with the Cowboys’ zone blocking.  Fuller (lined up over the near TE) is playing as a quasi-safety.  It was effective but ended up being just a one off.

Defensive Tackles: In the Nickel front McGee and Ion got the start on early downs, while Lanier and Ion got the start on late passing downs.  Hood was used later on and finished the game with the second highest snap count behind Ion.

Linebackers: Vigil and Brown on early downs, Harvey-Clemons and Brown on late passing downs.  As the game went on Vigil took some snaps from H-C.  Spaight came in when Brown had to leave with an injury.

What Happened

In the first half Offense and Special Teams screwed us.  Defense played phenomenal despite the other two-thirds of the team acting as saboteurs.

In the second half, zone double teams wore us down.  Ion and Francis struggled some while Hood and Lanier struggled a lot.

(FWIW Anderson needed to stay inside his block.) This half was the sequel to last game with most of the same characters up front.

After they softened us up they went to the air and picked on Breeland.

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Who’s Coming Back: Inside Linebackers

Previously:  Defensive Tackles, Defensive Ends

This is the third part of a series in which I list who will make our 53-man roster next year. Having watched and charted almost every snap this season I feel somewhat qualified to blog an amateur opinion on the matter. Today’s position group is Inside Linebackers.

Washington kept four Inside Linebackers on their roster this season so that’s the number I’m assuming we will keep for next year.

Holy Lock To Come Back Next Year:

Spaight: Can play all three downs, had tackling issues early but seems to have overcome those.  Even if Brown and Foster come back his experience and knowledge of Manusky’s defense should guarantee him a spot on the depth chart.  He only counts $764,000 against the cap.

Josh Harvey-Clemons: [EDIT:  After reviewing the Cowboys game I’m going to have to bump him down to ‘Most Likely’]  A college safety that has freakish size and speed.  A project player who is currently relegated to late passing downs and has the ability to blitz.  He has 3 years remaining on his rookie contract and only counts $576,000 against the cap.

He’s behind Zach Vigil in playing time but long term I figure the coaches would rather teach a coverage guy to fit gaps than teach a gap fitter—like Vigil and Compton—coverages.  You can coach reads but not speed.

Will Most Likely Return Next Year:

Zach Brown (Resigning Zach Brown): The only thing standing between Brown and ‘Holy Lock’ status is his agent. Manusky schemed the entire run defense around Brown.

Brown also showed that he is the only guy in our front seven with the instincts and speed to chase down a mobile NFL Quarterback.


If we don’t make an offseason acquisition, then one of the following,

Zach Vigil: Used on early run downs; a younger stronger version of Compton.  Unfortunately has Kerrigan type speed in coverage.

Will Compton: Knows the playbook inside out. Quintessential locker room leader. Excels at absorbing blockers and creating a path for Brown.

Compton’s serious downsides include lack of strength, pass coverage and inability to get off of blocks. His 2017 salary was almost $2 million, we could outfit a full two-deep around Zach Brown with that kind of cash. Even if he takes a pay cut we would still have younger, faster, stronger and cheaper options. He’s closer to 30/70 than 50/50, but he put on a clinic in that Seattle game and that’s preventing me from slotting him in the section below. I’d be surprised but not shocked if he stayed.

Mason Foster: If he’s healthy I think he comes back.  There are some rumblings about his Tweetstorm offending the FO guys, but he might be the best all around linebacker we have.

Best of Luck In Your Future Endeavors:

Otha Peters: Signed to the practice squad last month after Compton went to IR.  Hasn’t seen the field and lots of young guys are ahead of him which doesn’t bode well for his chances.  Might be able to hang onto a PS spot.

Who’s Coming Back: Defensive Ends/Outside Linebackers

Previously: Defensive Tackles

This is the second part of a series in which I list who will make our 53-man roster next year.  Having watched and charted almost every snap this season I feel somewhat qualified to blog an amateur opinion on the matter.  Today’s position group is defensive ends (in our system they also double as outside linebackers.)

Washington kept six defensive ends on their roster this season so that’s the number I’m assuming we will keep for next year.

Holy Lock To Come Back Next Year:

Kerrigan: The only thing that would cause the team to part ways with Kerrigan is his base salary.  In 2018 it will be $9 million and then it goes up to $10.5 million in 2019 and $11.5 million in 2020.  His guarantees work to about $7 million against the cap next year so any initial discussions about a departure won’t happen until 2019.

Smith: He’s been quiet the last few weeks, but a low cap number plus his overall body of work places him as a safe bet to get at least a share of starter snaps.

Anderson: Has an easy to digest rookie contract and continues to pack on strength.  His initial role seems to be a rotational player that sets the edge against the run.

Will Most Likely Return Next Year:

Murphy: On IR, obviously his future depends on how well he heals.  His ability to stop the run was a plus.  If he shows the capacity to recreate his nine sack effort from 2016 he becomes a holy lock to come back.


Galette: He has gotten a couple of nice pressures over the previous two weeks but his overall body of work is wanting.  His best attribute is his low base salary.  If we skip on bringing in a high dollar FA and forgo drafting an edge rusher, I could see Galette sneaking back on the roster with another short term contract that pays close to the veteran minimum.

Pete Robertson: Just signed a three year deal for $1.5 million last month.  It’s a small cap hit if we cut him but his contract firmly slots him as a special teams guy.

Best of Luck In Your Future Endeavors:

Chris Carter: Gruden went out of his way to praise his special teams contributions but he only has a one year deal and is the first man out if we make any offseason acquisitions.   If Murphy can heal and we bring back Galette his circumstances are not favorable for a return.

Who’s Coming Back: Defensive Tackles

This is the first part of a series that lists who will make our 53-man roster next year.  This is one blogger’s opinion born from having watched and charted almost every snap this season.

Washington kept seven defensive tackles on the roster so that’s the amount I’m assuming we keep for next year.  I’m also assuming injuries revert back to normal because we are good fans and good fans deserve normal things.

Holy Lock To Come Back Next Year:

  • Allen
  • Ion
  • McGee: The only player signed through 2021 along with Morgan Moses and Jordan Reed. Can get under tackles and take on double team blocks from Tackles and Tight Ends.
  • McClain: His performance dictates he should be let go but because of his contract he will be back in 2018.  Not the case for 2019 when the opt-out kicks in; if he performs comparable to this year he will likely be gone.

Will Most Likely Return Next Year:

  • Hood: Quick up front.  He had a strong showing in November against the Saints, Vikings and Giants.  He showed an uncanny ability to close down gaps on zone runs:

The main chinks in his armor were his early season struggles and stopping the run against Dallas.  His salary will be $1.4 million against the cap next year which is a bargain for his role as a rotation piece that could play 15-20 snaps per game and start when injuries require him to do so.


If Hood comes back and we pick up an interior lineman in the offseason, at least one of the following guys should be gone.

  • Lanier: He is a liability against the run which should disqualify him but he is the only one that can generate interior pressure other than Allen and Ion.
  • AJ Francis: Stout against the run which makes him my choice to return next season. Non-existent versus pass.

Best of Luck In Your Future Endeavors:

  • Arthur Jones: An emergency signing to fill in for the Seattle game where he charted a -3 prior to winding up on IR.  He was our first choice in the case of an emergency but his body appears to be near Mr. Glass on the injury spectrum.
  • Caraun Reid: A fifth round draft pick that was waived twice by the Lions and Chargers and has done nothing since coming here.  He was passed over by emergency fill-ins and his contract expires at the end of this season.
  • Phil Taylor: By the start of next season he will have not played a meaningful snap in almost four years.  He is signed to a one year deal and is healing from a quadricep injury while pushing close to 350 pounds.  Unless we refuse to invest in anyone else I don’t see a spot for him on our roster.
  • Ondre Pipkins: The former Michigan and Texas Tech product found a home on our practice squad this season.  It’s not a good look that he’s been passed over by multiple emergency fill-ins.  His best case scenario for 2018 is looking like the PS again with a shot to start if injuries take a similar toll on our roster.

Skins DEFENSE vs The Giants


Because Eli likes to dink and dunk we loaded our underneath coverage with up to five guys.  In the above pic we rushed three and dropped our defensive ends to get five in underneath coverage along with three deep.

Safeties:  Everett subbed in for the injured Nicholson and played a lot of press coverage over their Tight Ends:

Against I-Formation that left him as the target of a Fullback Iso block.  He got points for sticking his nose in there against the run.

Linebackers:  Foster/Compton/Spaight’s replacement was handled by two guys:

  • Vigil got the early downs
  • Harvey-Clemons did a reprise of the Cravensbacker role on late passing downs; he was basically a hybrid between Safety and Linebacker.

What Happened

Continue reading “Skins DEFENSE vs The Giants”

Skins DEFENSE vs Saints


Safeties: The Saints had hot reads and gadget plays to attack our flat zones when we went with a single high safety:

We played with 2-high safeties a lot more than usual to guard the flats against these types of plays.

When Nicholson was on the field we finally used him as something other than just a deep safety.  We put him in the slot and in the box and because of his extra effort he was rewarded with a concussion.

Lining up: With Compton out Zach Brown handled lining guys up and there were a few struggles early on.

Against this “Split Zone” run Brown and Spaight needed to follow the motion of the HBack who was pulling across the formation, instead Brown (highlighted) lines up over and fires into the same gap as Nicholson.  That left Spaight to guard the middle of the field and he was unable to fit his gap inside of Anderson:

Compton’s (and Foster’s) absence was felt two-fold:

  • guys not lining up properly (three times)
  • Brown played a little slower and out of position at times.

4-3: The only new formation of note was the 4-3 we used when we were in our Heavy personnel and expected the Power run.  Last week against Minnesota the “over” shift from our 3-4 created an alley on the backside that they exploited for a big run.  This time we moved Anderson to linebacker then shifted Spaight and Brown toward the tight end which gave a more balanced look:

this also spared our safeties from playing in the box against Power.

I swear there is some good news ahead.  Not much, but I scraped out what I could.

What Happened

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Skins DEFENSE vs Minnesota


We played a lot of two-high safety when Hall was in the game then switched to mostly one-high after he got replaced by Everett.  Last week I thought the 2-high switch was to keep our safeties from getting hurt but it’s probably due to DHall’s lack of range.

When we went with one-high safety, Minnesota attacked our flat zones with Arrow/Slant route combos:

and Outside Zone Play Action:

This is what most teams do to us:  Flat zones are an area we give up so we can protect deep while adding a safety against the run.  It’s a trade off that hurt us in Seattle but didn’t kill us in this game.

The only trickery of note was their empty set which drew Norman into covering a running back and left Brown and Hall to bracket Thielen:

Brown is still trying to figure out his assignment at the snap and Hall takes a bad angle:

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