Posted on: September 25, 2009 7:41 pm

Play calling advice for the Redskins

The word is out and the news is spreading.  Washington is ripe for a Lions upset.


This is the theme that has been bandied about every major sports show or website over the past week.  If you are judging the Redskins based on their play so far this season you could probably arrive at the same conclusion.


On paper there is no way that this happens.  But games aren’t played on paper.  If the Redskins don’t break out of their current scoring slump and keep giving teams such as the Lions chances to steal a win this season defining upset could become a reality.


This would be devastating to the Redskins.  If they have any hope for challenging teams in their division they must win games like this.  I have come up with some tips that could help them break out of their slump and finally allow me to relax in the fourth quarter of a game.


First of all the Redskins need to spread it out in goal line situations and give Campbell the freedom to make decisions.  So far this year it is evident that the Redskins’ offensive line is not a dominant unit.  The two tight end heavy formations that the Redskins are known for haven’t been giving Portis or anyone else the push to get the tough yards.


 A change of strategy is in order.  Spreading a defense out with three or four receiver sets will do many things that could help this team.  Clinton Portis had his greatest success running for a zone blocking scheme in Denver.  Spreading it out gives Portis more cutback options and space to create.


A spread formation dictates that the defense must switch from goal line packages to nickel coverage.  This puts a less powerful team on the field and could help give the Redskins the push that they need in the running game.


Spreading it out also takes defenders away from the line of scrimmage and could create opportunities for Campbell to use a QB draw.  Even if a draw is not designed it would give Campbell more space to improvise if a play breaks down.  Campbell’s mobility hasn’t been effectively utilized in the red zone and this could be the formation that may best utilize his instincts.


Going with a multiple receiver set allows the big targets like Malcolm Kelly and Marko Mitchell to get into the game and help give the Redskins the goal line play making ability that they were drafted to provide.  The Redskins wanted the size advantage.  Now that they have it they should use it.


The defense played much better last week as they actually managed to create pressure without using all out blitzes.  That must continue this week.  Pressure creates mistakes.  The Skins must keep Stafford uneasy the entire game.  If they do the turnovers will follow.


Many people think that DeAngelo Hall is the Redskins’ best cornerback.  While he is their best playmaking corner Carlos Rogers is actually a better cover corner.  Rogers needs to draw the assignment against Calvin Johnson, but Gregg Blache would still be wise to double team him.


The Skins should let Hall play the opposite side, where he can’t get burned deep and will be in the best position to make big plays.


The Redskins took some of my advice to heart last week, and the result was a win, however ugly it seemed.  If they can make these new changes it might save them from the most embarrassing defeat imaginable.

Category: NFL
Posted on: September 18, 2009 11:42 pm

Six keys to ensure a Redskins victory this week

Forward this article to all Redskin coaches and personnel.


This is the blueprint that will help the Redskins put last week’s debacle in the rear view mirror and hand the St. Louis Rams a resounding defeat.




  1. Blitz early and often.  The Rams present a unique combination of one of the most immobile QB’s in the league with one of the most inexperienced receiving corps in the league.  If that doesn’t favor an aggressive blitzing defense I don’t know what does.
  2. Play tight one on one coverage against the receivers.  The Redskins got killed by playing a very soft coverage scheme last week.  The Rams do not warrant that kind of respect.  Playing tight does leave open the opportunity for a big play, but the Redskins corners are used to this type of coverage and will still have help over the top from LaRon Landry.
  3. Run blitz away from Albert Haynesworth.  Last week the Giants ran away from Haynesworth and had moderate success doing so.  The Rams will follow that blueprint.  If the Redskins keep an extra defender down in the box on that side it will help them to cover all their bases.  While Haynesworth was ineffective last week in passing situations he proved his worth on key running plays.




  1. More play action on first and ten.  Last year Jim Zorn passed a lot on first down.  Maybe he was looking to avoid a play calling trend, but this decision did not work out in his favor.  Clinton Portis will command enough respect to get defenders to bite on first down play fakes.
  2. Mix in a little shot gun hurry up.  Jason Campbell was 14-17 from the shotgun last week.  While I don’t advise doing it all the time it would be a nice change of pace to go with the hurry up offense once per half in non hurry up situations.
  3. Sub Portis on second down, not third.  I understand that Zorn is trying to save Portis from an early burnout, and I like the idea.  But I don’t like having the best blocking back in the NFL and the best pass catching running back on the team on the bench in key third down situations.  Betts is a capable player, but the Redskins would be better served using him on second down than on third down.


If the Redskins follow these six simple steps they will have greater success this week.  If they don’t they still have the talent to win, but they will give the Rams a break that they do not deserve.


Everyone knows what happened in this game last year.  However the Skins do not come into this game overconfident after beating two divisional opponents on the road.  They come in hungry and eager to redeem themselves.


Zorn and Campbell may be on a short leash this year.  This is a perfect game to get back on track.  I have every confidence that they will learn from their mistakes and take out their frustration at home against a young team.

Category: NFL
Posted on: July 5, 2009 12:48 pm

New D-Line Gives Greg Blache Creative Freedom

            The Washington Redskins achieved a feat last year that is almost unheard of in modern sports history.  Their defense managed to finish fourth in the league in total yards given up despite having one of the lowest sack totals of any team.


            Anyone watching film on the Redskins last year came away with two definite conclusions.


1.      The secondary is very good.  Week after week opposing quarterbacks were given all day to throw a pass and still had trouble making plays.


2.      The defensive line must be upgraded.  Aside from Andre Carter (and disregarding Jason Taylor, who played injured the entire season and was not a factor) the Redskins had no other player on their d-line who would start for any other team in the NFC East.


            The only way that Defensive Coordinator Greg Blache could generate any pressure on the quarter back was by blitzing.  Blitzing can be very successful, but it is not a permanent solution.


            Bringing linebackers, safeties, and the occasional cornerback off of their primary cover duties on passing situations is risky.  It puts those still in coverage on an island and leaves zero room for error. 


            An upgrade along the line was long overdue.  Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato came through this past off season by signing free agent Albert Haynesworth and drafting promising speed rusher Brian Orakpo.


            Given the Redskins’ recent history regarding the production of free agents I know that success is in no way guaranteed.  But barring injury or a catastrophic regression in play by Haynesworth I would have to think that the Redskins will have a much better line this year.


            If the new line plays up to their potential it will open up new possibilities for Greg Blache and allow him to change defensive strategies.


            A front four of Andre Carter, Cornelius Griffin, Albert Haynesworth, and Brian Orakpo has a chance to be really special.


            Try to imagine how much more effective this defense (which was very good last year) could be if they could generate an effective pass rush without blitzing.  Rushing only the four down linemen and dropping seven players back into coverage will clog up passing lanes and will almost assuredly lead to more turnovers.


            Turnovers have been hard to come by in recent years for the Redskins.  I feel that one of the main reasons for this was the poor pass rush.  Pressure from the front four not only makes the quarterback have to throw before he is ready, it allows linebackers to drop back into areas where a quarterback does not expect a defender to be.


            The combination is a recipe for creating turnovers!


            Carlos Rogers and DeAngelo Hall are well suited to playing single man coverage, and I think they will still be asked to do this from time to time.  But I feel that Blache will have more flexibility this year and will install more zone coverage schemes.  This will give help to Fred Smoot in nickel and dime coverage’s.


            Following the Redskins my entire life has taught me two very important things.


            The first thing is that Dallas is evil.


            The second and probably most important thing is that anything can happen from one season to the next.


            While I don’t enter the season assuming that the recent off season acquisitions will definitely pan out and return the Redskins to glory I am intrigued by the potential of this defensive unit.  If everything falls into place and the injury gods are kind to us this year we could be looking at a very special defense.                     


            I can’t wait to find out.  There is only nine more weeks until show time.  Start your countdown now!


Category: NFL
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com