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10 Oct 2007

Every Play Counts: Washington Defense

By Michael David Smith

In 2005, the Washington Redskins rode a very good defense -- fourth in the league, according to DVOA -- to the playoffs. Coordinator Gregg Williams had his unit attacking like his mentor, Buddy Ryan, used to do, and things were looking up in Washington.

And then last season, disaster struck. The Redskins dropped down -- way, way down, all the way to 32nd in the league in defensive DVOA. The personnel (especially safety Adam Archuleta, a free-agent addition) didn't seem to fit Williams' schemes, and the Redskins were one of the league's most disappointing teams.

Now that 2005 Redskins defense is back. DVOA now ranks the Redskins' defense fourth overall, fourth against the pass and seventh against the run. The Redskins are 3-1 and looking like a playoff team again.

So what happened? To find out, I watched the Redskins' defense on every play of their 34-3 demolition of the Detroit Lions. The whole defense is sound, but the front four -- especially against the weak Lions offensive line -- was absolutely amazing.

First, defensive end Andre Carter is a beast. Last year he signed a six-year, $30 million free-agent contract with the Redskins, and although he started all 16 games, most observers thought he failed to live up to that contract. This year he's looking like he's worth every penny -- and, given the market rate for defensive ends these days, he may even be underpaid.

The Lions at times tried to block Carter with a tight end, which was just silly. No tight end is going to block this guy. And how fast is he? On one play he lined up at right defensive end and began to rush Lions quarterback Jon Kitna. But when he saw that Kitna was going to throw to Calvin Johnson near the sideline, he sprinted out there to help tackle Johnson for a gain of only three yards. This guy has great athleticism and a nose for the ball that comes from being a coach's son, which he is -- his dad, Rubin, played defensive tackle for the Broncos and is now head coach at Florida A&M.

Carter had his way with Lions left tackle Jeff Backus, especially on a third-quarter play on which he threw Backus to the ground with the old Reggie White "hump" move and sacked Kitna in the end zone for a safety. Forget whether Carter is worth the money Daniel Snyder is paying him, and instead someone remind me why the Lions gave Backus a six-year, $38 million contract last year.

The other starting defensive end, Philip Daniels, is a 12-year veteran and a very smart player. On one first-and-10, Daniels knew before the snap that the Lions had a screen called -- he had it so well sniffed out that he just got out of his stance, took a step back, and waited for Kitna to throw to running back Aveion Cason. It was like someone told him exactly what play the Lions were going to run. He then chased Cason to the sideline and forced a fumble. Incredible play.

Of course, you know just from looking at the box score that Carter had two sacks and Daniels forced a fumble. What about the players who don't show up in the stats? I especially liked what I saw of second-year defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery. He had only one tackle, bringing down Kevin Jones for a gain of two yards on a first-and-10 in the second half, but he's a big, quick guy who's a handful for the offensive linemen who try to block him. He frequently pushed the middle of the pocket backward and prevented Kitna from setting his feet. Montgomery played only sparingly as a rookie fifth-round pick last year, but he's started every game this season, and he's definitely one of the reasons the Redskins' defense has improved.

It really was incredible how often the Redskins managed to get pressure while rushing only four. Williams likes to blitz, but he won't blitz if he doesn't have to, and on Sunday he didn't have to -- his defensive line was doing just fine on its own. Unless I missed one somehow, the Redskins actually went the entire game without ever rushing more than four players.

And while this might sound counterintuitive, the Redskins' defensive players swarmed all over the field Sunday, even though they rarely blitzed. The Lions had one series of three straight plays that included a draw to running back Tatum Bell on which left cornerback Shawn Springs stepped up to stop him for three yards; another handoff up the middle to Bell on which Daniels easily shed the block of Lions right guard Stephen Peterman to stop Bell for a loss of a yard; and a sack on which the Redskins got outstanding pressure from all four defensive linemen. Both defensive ends rushed upfield and both defensive tackles collapsed the middle, and although it was defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin who sacked Kitna, all four defensive linemen contributed equally.

As for depth on the front four, backup defensive lineman Demetric Evans had a sack. I also liked what I saw of first-year defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander, who beat Lions guard Edwin Mulitalo to hit Kevin Jones at the line of scrimmage on one play. He looks like the kind of player who could be versatile enough to play either tackle or end. However, I wasn't very impressed with backup defensive end Chris Wilson. He's quick (as a 6-foot-4, 246-pound defensive end, he'd better be), but the only thing he does is rush to the outside. His only tackle came after a 10-yard run by Jones.

Although the Redskins didn't blitz their linebackers Sunday, strongside linebacker Marcus Washington did have a sack on a play when the Redskins rushed only three defensive linemen. Although Washington negated his sack by facemasking Kitna as he brought him down, the rush was an incredible play on which he shoved Lions right tackle George Foster (who outweighs him by 100 pounds) on an inside move and then easily beat him around the corner. Washington had a very good game despite playing with a dislocated elbow.

Weak side linebacker Rocky McIntosh flies all over the field and also had a good game, but I was a little disappointed with middle linebacker London Fletcher, the Redskins' big free-agent signing this year. Fletcher was fine, but he didn't have the kinds of spectacular plays he so often did over the last five years with the Buffalo Bills.

In the secondary, rookie safety LaRon Landry can really lay the wood to people. On one play he was playing way, way back -- it looked like he was about 30 yards off the line of scrimmage at the snap -- but as soon as the ball was handed off, Landry made a beeline for Jones and got the better of a head-on collision. (He does need to learn not to yap at a guy after he's drilled him, though; Landry easily could have been flagged for taunting after the hit.)

Right cornerback Carlos Rogers was matched up with Calvin Johnson for most of the day and had a very good game, including one outstanding play where he toyed with Kitna, making it look like Johnson was open but then sticking his hand right in front of Johnson as the ball was approaching to knock it away. The aforementioned gain of three yards was Johnson's only catch of the day.

Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz has a great offensive mind, but Williams knew just how to attack that offense. (Of course, it helps that the Redskins' front four is much more talented than the Lions' offensive line.) So how would I attack the Redskins if I were an opposing offensive coordinator? In the passing game, I think I'd try a lot of trips formations. Kitna had a 14-yard completion to Mike Furrey on a play in which the Lions lined up with two receivers to the right side of the formation, then motioned a third receiver to that side. The Redskins always kept Springs on the left and Rogers on the right, and overloading one side seemed to cause a coverage breakdown in the Redskins' secondary.

I'd also try to run more than the Lions did. It's understandable that the Lions passed so much when they were behind late in the game, but they abandoned the run too early. Midway through the second quarter, Tatum Bell had a couple of solid runs, a nine-yard gain on first-and-10 followed by a four-yard gain on second-and-1. On both plays, Bell ran right into the heart of the Redskins' defense, and it looked like the Lions -- a finesse team -- might be able to move the ball on the Redskins by overpowering them. But the Lions didn't stick with it, and those two runs ended up being Bell's last two touches of the game.

Jones also ran well at the beginning of the second half, but again, the Lions didn't stick with it. The Lions wouldn't have won the game by calling more running plays, but they probably would have had more success than 10 offensive drives yielding six punts, two interceptions, a field goal and a safety.

The Redskins aren't going to have that kind of success all season, but they are going to play well enough to show that last year was an anomaly. With one of the best defensive lines in the league, a solid group of linebackers, and a talented young secondary, this team is going places -- as long as the players can stay relatively healthy. If the Redskins are hit by an above average number of injuries, they will face the same problem as last year, because this front line talent is not supported by much depth.

Each week, Michael David Smith looks at one specific player or one aspect of a team on every single play of the previous game. Standard caveat applies: Yes, one game is not necessarily an indicator of performance over the entire season.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 10 Oct 2007

41 comments, Last at 13 Oct 2007, 5:39pm by Boss Hog

Comments

1
by Mike B. (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 12:44pm

I was quite impressed with the 'Skins D - it looked like some vintage Williams work, both with the way the game plan was designed and the way the game was called. He definitely had the Lions figured out. Carter was just a beast all day - he seemed to turn up on every other play or so.

I think this D can be attacked successfully, but the Lions (who, ahem, are who we thought they were) don't have the right personnel.

2
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 12:45pm

Redskins did play great defense and unfortunately had a game plan that I think will be copied over and over again-pretty much every team's DL is better then Detroit's OL.

That being said: How can Detroit solve their OL problem?

3
by Carlos (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 12:47pm

With one of the best defensive lines in the league

Wow. I can't wait to read the reaction to that one! Wasn't just a few months ago that everyone -- I mean everyone -- was blasting Gibbs for not drafting a DL? Could it be that Gibbs actually knows what he's doing?

Nah, it's probably just the Lions.

Interesting article. I'd love to hear more about Rocky McIntosh. Again, he barely played last year (and looked lost when he did), and Gibbs was criticized pretty heavily last year for wasting a pick on him. This year I think he's looked excellent, but I'm curious what others think.

I also wonder how Sean Taylor is doing. He seemed to go from phenomenal young player to completely lost and at odds with team awfully fast.

4
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 12:48pm

Well, their D-line and secondary seem fairly young, so relative health should be expected.

In this game in particular, I'd have been more interested in hearing about how the secondary covered than about the D-line. Overpowering Detroit's O-line is not exactly a novel concept, but Kitna has usually been able to get the ball out quickly enough to compensate. (Highlights aren't great at showing coverage, and I didn't get this game where I live.)

5
by witless chum (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 12:52pm

"Forget whether Carter is worth the money Daniel Snyder is paying him, and instead someone remind me why the Lions gave Backus a six-year, $38 million contract last year."

For those not lucky enough to be Lions fans, Backus wanted to leave, so they overpaid him because of the supposed lack of better options. At this point, I don't see a drop-off from either Lions starting tackle to second-year backup Jonathan Scott.

The messed up thing is that this line IS better than last year.

6
by P (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 1:05pm

Where is Sean Taylor?

Thats the best question you can ask. Its not as if hes getting beat all the time. Most plays just aren't getting that far up the field. If your safety leads the team in tackles, that team is probably sub .500.

He has made a few spectacular hits and has a pick in each of the last 2 games.

All in all this was a great article. However, I bleed burgundy and gold...and I could never say that we have one of the best D-lines in football. We looked spectacular against the Lions but most of the time opposing QBs can order a pizza in the pocket. With the exception of Carter, its very hit or miss.

7
by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 1:08pm

#2: With their 2008 top-10 draft pick?

8
by Eli Manning: Handsome Devil (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 1:19pm

"With one of the best defensive lines in the league..."

Hahaha...he said...he said...haha...can't...ha...stop...laughing...

Okay, I pulled it together. Maybe MDS should watch more than one Washington game before concluding that their DL is so great. Beating up on Detroit is worth exactly....nothing. Come in with a good scheme for Martz and you've got him licked, the next adjustment he makes will be his first.

9
by Penrose 10,000 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 1:23pm

With one of the best defensive lines in the league, a solid group of linebackers, and a talented young secondary, this team is going places

I am a Redskins homer and I have watched every game since 2005. I can only wish our DL was that good, but I am pleased they're good enough to be average, or maybe slightly above average.

My impression is that London Fletcher-Baker is still a solid, if no longer spectacular, player. He makes his plays and minds his responsibilities. Rocky McIntosh looks like a mini version of the 49ers' Patrick Willis, not as strong or as fast, but definitely coming into his own. Sean Taylor looks much more comfortable in this year's secondary next to Landry, and what a change it is to have both starting strong safeties play good coverage! Even Fred Smoot has been solid, in both coverage and run support.

MDS mentions this in the article, but I think he understates how good the gameplan and game management were in this game. I don't remember a single blitz either--and this year the team has the personnel to pull it off competently.

10
by Martin Collinson (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 1:27pm

I'm a huge Skins fan but actually our D line is the weakest unit on our D. Carter is playing lights out and Griffin is still a good DT - next to him we have two young improving players in Montgomery and Golston (who did not play versus the Lions as he is more of a run stopper than a get up the field guy). Both have a lot of potential but neither should keep a good NFL centre or guard up at night worrying how he is going to block them. Daniels at LDE is solid versus the run but is not a pass rush threat.

LDE is likely one of the areas we will look to upgrade next offseason.

That said our front 4 did destroy Detroit - but I think that says more about Detroit than Washington.

we have the tough part of our schedule coming up - I think we are for real (Campbell is potentially the best QB we have had since Joe Thiesmann) and will make the playoffs but we will find out a lot more about how good our D is when we have played the Packers and Pats.

11
by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 1:38pm

I am shocked that the Redskins are credited with having one of the best defensive lines in the game. It's astounding, even if Carter is a beast and we already know Griffin is as well. I was also high on Montgomery, who allegedly should have been drafted much higher except their were concerns about his work ethic (now allayed), but wow.

To add to the optimism, the Skins actually have even more depth on their line. DT Kedric Golston was inactive vs Detroit because, according to the beat writer, he's mostly a run stopper and the Skins didn't expect to face many runs. Expect him to play in the future, as he started a bunch of games last year as a rookie.

Nice late-round haul last year- Montgomery, Reed Doughty, and Golston in the 5th and 6th rounds. Considering their only early pick was McIntosh, that's some seriously good scouting to make up for a lack of picks.

BTW, I still think the Skins should draft a DE early (1st or 2nd round) in 2008, since Daniels won't last much longer and Demetric Evans isn't really a potential starter. I'm not worried about replacing Fletcher-Baker, I think H.B. Blades (another late pick) is up to the task.

12
by Carlos (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 1:40pm

MDS mentions this in the article, but I think he understates how good the gameplan and game management were in this game.

I didn't see the game, but Williams not blitzing once is basically unheard of. Boswell wrote that this was basically Williams outcoaching Martz. They've faced eachother a few times in high stakes games, and know what to expect, or so Martz thought. Dropping 7 into coverage on every play is clearly not what Martz expected and sounds like he didn't adjust. Score 1 for Gregg Williams.

13
by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 1:42pm

Re: 10

If I had seen your post, I probably would not have made one. Looks like we agree on several issues.

14
by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 2:09pm

#2: With their 2008 top-10 draft pick?

#7, that's silly. There's no receiver coming out in the 2008 that can shore up that offensive line.

15
by LooseOnTheLead (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 2:11pm

If the Redskins are hit by an above average number of injuries, they will face the same problem as last year, because this front line talent is not supported by much depth.

I don't understand this comment at the end of the article. Where is the lack of depth? MDS specifically praised the depth on the DL, so that can't be it. At CB, there's Smoot and Macklin. (Remember, we're talking depth here, so you can't expect TOO much.) At safety, there's Prioleau. At LB, Godfrey, Blades, and K. Campbell. There's nothing spectacular there, but I don't see where the Skins' depth is weak by comparison with the average team.

16
by SGT Ben (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 2:28pm

#14 - HAHAHAHA Too funny man. What're the odds of Millen actually getting fired? I'm not a Detroit fan, but I'd like to see them have the possibility of one day fielding a competent team.

17
by langsty (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 2:30pm

I was hoping for an EPC about either the Skins or Bucs defenses, because after last season I had written them both off. Landry is a guy I was kinda hoping the Falcons would be able to get, even though drafting the best available DE was probably the smarter move.

18
by TracingError (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 2:37pm

As a Redskins diehard and a realist, a) the defensive line is much improved--to average and b)Gregg Williams is much improved.

Williams is a bit of a Martzian-hardhead himself, and had become predictably blitz happy. This year, he has become quite unpredictable, with good results. He never would have played coverage all game last year or the year before. The Eagles and Giants were expecting blitzes that never came.

However, even with the D line improvements, opponents are needlessly abandoning the run. In the Philly game, Westbrook had close to 100 yards on 12 runs, then Reid went pass happy, and when they went back to the run, it was no longer effective. The Giants also had success running in the first half, then went away from it. So I'm worried that a team will actually have the patience to keep running.

Also, the seams of the pass defense are quite vulnerable, but because of the awful line play, Detroit couldn't exploit them. But they are there.

All in all, once the league figures them out, this will be a good to very good defense, but it hasn't been heavily challenged yet (GB and NE will take care of that).

The real question is if the O-Line will hold up and if Campbell can be consistent.

19
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 2:38pm

#7
I know its a joke, but I doubt its that easy.
The Lions usually start 3 1st rounders, a 2nd rounder, and Mulitalio on their OL every Sunday (this Sunday-Peterman a 3rd rounder started instead of Woody-a 1st rounder) and their OL is still terrible. Of course we screwed up in 2005 by drafting Mike Williams instead of Jamaal Brown or Alex Barron. That draft pick absolutely killed any positive the Lions may have gotten from a 6-10 season.

20
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 2:40pm

Didn't anyone learn not to overreact to a team destroying the Lions at home yet? How did the destruction of Detroit 3 weeks ago work out for the Eagles?

The Skins have a very talented secondary, but you can still make plays against them if you commit to the run. The Giants missed a ton of big plays just with Plax/Shockey dropped passes.

Their defensive line is what???? You have to be kidding. I was surprised when they didn't address the unit in the offseason. My question is can they get a pass rush in a big spot without blitzing?

21
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 2:43pm

The reason Andre Carter was allowed to leave the 49ers in free agency wasn't because he was never productive, he had a couple of 10+ sack seasons, and got them by beating NFL left tackles. He always had a great outside move and looked like he could become a great player if he had learned to play the run and to better vary his pash rush moves. His first step has always been top class and his outside rush top notch, but he didn't really have anything else. Maybe a Skins fan can let us know if he has improved in this area. The reason he got moved on from SF was that over the course of a season he began to wear down and b the second half was either not playing with back trouble or completely ineffective with back trouble. Five games are not enough to tell us whether he has found a way to avoid this. Also beating Backus after he was sidelined in practice with broken ribs doesn't qualify you for the Pro Bowl. Similarly for Mutiallo who at this stage in his career is a fairly mediocre player and was also carrying an injury into this game.

When I saw this game on the weekly slate I knew the Skins were going to win it big, their personnel just match up perfectly with the Lions. Springs and Rogers are both good enough to cover the Lions wideouts with two good safeties over the top and when the Lions try to bring extra wideouts into the game, for a change the Skins have a decent nickel back in Smoot. With the Lions having a bad and banged up offensive line Williams would have been a fool to blitz, not a genius for not doing. The secret to stopping Martz' offenses has always been to get enough pressure with your front four (think of the Saints when they had Howard, Hand, Johnson and Glover) and then to cover everyone else with, well everyone else. Of course this was a lot more difficult when the offensive line in question was anchored by Pace and contained a bunch of other talented players.

22
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 2:52pm

Rogers has been considered a bum by many a Redskin fan... I was looking forward to this as a test of their secondary, not sure if they were tested... guess I'll have to wait for another week.

I'm surprised the media is suppressing reports of all the heart attacks suffered by Redskin fans after Rogers actually caught an interception and then ran it back. A couple more like that and he'll have made penance for the drop in the 2005 playoff game... otherwise it's a blue moon type of play.

23
by Ari (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 2:56pm

A top tier defensive line? Why not? I'm impressed that MDS was willing to lay it on the line and make an argument that few are making, and I also think that the evidence will bear out in the upcoming weeks.

But is the line not top-tier? The only evidence against it is all the (useless) ramblings from the off-season. The fact is that Andre Carter has been a beast for several years EXCEPT for last year. The rest of the defensive line was also stellar except for last year. The Redskins are currently #3 in rushing defense per game--that can't all be because of playing the Lions.

Look at the rush performance of the Skins' opponents: all had their worst (or close to their worst) games against Washington.

24
by Carlos (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 3:08pm

A top tier defensive line? Why not? I’m impressed that MDS was willing to lay it on the line and make an argument that few are making

Except he's making based on observing the DL vs an inept OL. And Skins fans have seen this team unable to generate pass rush with the front four for ages now.

And btw, FO's DL stats put Washington's DL squarely in the middle of the pack, and nowhere near top tier.

Let's see how this D looks after facing GB and Dallas. I'd say the signs are very encouraging, but 4 games is still too small a sample size to declare this defense as "back."

I’m surprised the media is suppressing reports of all the heart attacks suffered by Redskin fans after Rogers actually caught an interception

I hear ya. Last year I wondered how much of record-setting lameness in forcing TOs could be laid at the cement hands of Rogers. I've never seen an NFL caliber player with worse hands. He literally seemed incapable of catching anything... and if you can never make a QB pay for mistakes, then you're not much of a corner.

25
by buddha (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 3:14pm

#16: The odds are a lot better that they draft another receiver.

26
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 3:24pm

#23... They did a good job overall against the Giants with their run defense. However, there were 6 occasions when the Giants ran the ball on 3rd & 3 (or less) or on any down 3 yards from the end zone. The Giants were successful in 5 of those attempts (4 first downs and a TD). I personally think that comes back to their how their d-line plays at the point of attack. I think their back 7 has as much talent as any in the league, but a top notch defense starts at the point of attack.

27
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 3:43pm

With one of the best defensive lines in the league, a solid group of linebackers, and a talented young secondary, this team is going places

So basically, they have the components shared by some of the best recent defenses, plus with some wacky zone blitzes thrown in?

28
by BillWallace (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 5:41pm

Lost in the argument about whether the skins DL is great or average is the redemption of the skins' player personnel department.

You can say what you want about the strategy of foregoing half of the draft (and I'll agree with you if you say the name Duckett), but the picks that they are making, are tremendous. And when they've given up draft value to move up specifically to target a player, it's worked out well.

Also the big FA signings have some hits to go with the misses.

The depth issue, which was another intentional strategy that I always maintained was independent of the no-draft strategy (you can have depth without draft picks), is less of an issue this season, at least on defense.

Also not mentioned enough in the difference between 06 and 07 is the secondary. The difference between Springs-Landry and Rumph-Archuleta is monumental. If Springs goes down again, we may still be in trouble, but there's just not a whole hell of a lot you can do about that.

29
by Kyle S (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 5:48pm

George Foster getting beaten badly by a pass rusher? I'm shocked. Just shocked.

/sarcasm from a Broncos fan

30
by Evan (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 6:45pm

# 21

The reason Andre Carter had a bad last season and ultimately left SF was because they switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and moved him from a 4-3 DE to a stand up 3-4 OLB, which he did not fit at all. One could also argue that his slow start in WASH was due to him reacclimating himself to being a down DL in a 4-3 D

31
by bubqr (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 7:14pm

Wow about the "one of the best Dline in the league". Still not sure about that. Philly would have one of the best in the league too if we looked back at the DET PHI game.

McIntosh : Lots of people were low on him, but a teammate of mine who played in WAS practice squad last year said he was very impressive, and that the coaches were really high on him for the upcoming season, and that they think he's going to be a Pro Bowler. So i trsuted him and i wasn't that surprised.

32
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 7:22pm

#30

His last season in SF was just about the only time in his last three with the 49ers that he had stayed healthy. After his first two years he was pretty much a wash in the second half of each season. When Carter plays RDE he gets worn down. He hadn't fully adjusted to playing the 3-4 when his contract came up, it is pretty difficult to justify paying $30m to a player who hasn't proven he can play in your system.

I don't know how far we disagree. I would agree that Carter can be a very productive outside rusher. I do think he is rather limited in the ways in which he can play though. He also has a long history of back trouble, not a good thing in a guy who tries to fight through the blocks of players who often outweigh him by 70 lbs or more.

33
by TracingError (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 7:24pm

Look up Andre Carter's game by game stats. He had four sacks last December, and has four this season. So that's a sack a game almost--top notch. And it doesn't appear to indicate a drop off at the end of the year.

But he's definitely of the type where running at him is effective.

34
by navin (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 11:22pm

Switching to the 3-4 was a big reason why SF let Carter leave, but don't forget that this is really the first year that SF is legitimately running the 3-4. In the past two years they started out that way and had to switch back to the 4-3 because of personnel issues.

35
by Ben (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 11:31pm

I'd add one small opinion to the analysis of Williams and his toning down the blitzes this year: a lot of the blitz happy schemes last year (and the reason the Redskins gave up so many 3rd down conversions and plays of 20+ yards) were because of the injuries to Prioleau and Springs and the complete disaster that was Adam Archuleta.

Williams just had no confidence in his secondary to cover for any length of time. With Carter adjusting to being back in a 4-3, Griffin banged up, and with McIntosh, Montgomery, and Golston barely wet behind the ears in the NFL, Williams had to compensate by sending DB blitzes and exposing the middle of the Defense. TEs killed the Redskins because of this, and undersized MLB Lemar Marshall (now in Cincinnati) just couldn't stop the run consistently. Tiki Barber ran for about 3,000 miles against them, and he wasn't the only one.

Now that the line has come together and is playing solidly, Williams isn't in a corner any more, and he trusts these players (Fletcher-Baker and Taylor in particular) to make plays consistently. We'll see if they can keep it up against O-Lines that are less schizophrenic than the Lions.

36
by mrparker (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 12:39am

With Green Bay's starting center out this week we should find out even less about the Redskins DLine

37
by Kevin (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 5:07am

With the fifth overall selection in the NFL 2008 draft the Detroit lions select.......DeSean Jackson!!

38
by Kwai Chang Kain (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 8:28am

it was interesting to see Redskins LBs consistantly lined up 5 yds off the line, almost daring Martz to run at them. indeed a few quick hitters picked up good gains. I pointed this out to a guy I was watching the game with, and predicted Martzs ego wouldn't allow him to take advantage of this and that he would continue to try to throw into coverage with DLs draped all over Kitna. which is what happened.

39
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 10/12/2007 - 11:26pm

I love the metrics on this site, but the writers scouting can be real spotty at times. Calling the Redskins D-Line one of the best in the league, is a mistake you might hear at ESPN, but not at a site that claims to be the best.

40
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 10/12/2007 - 11:29pm

The Redskins/Lions game reminded me of the Rams/Pats super bowl in that the defensive coordinator was daring Mike Martz to run the ball, and he really didn't.

There were many 1st and 2nd down plays, where the Redskins defensive tackles were lining up in the C Gap ( to get an advantage rushing the passer), which left the A and B gaps wide open, but Detroit didn't attack that until the 3rd quarter.

Also, the Redskins D-Line might have looked better because the Lions don't run a west coast offense and their pass plays generally take longer to develop, and they were 1 dimensional. Basically, the D-Lineman were just tee-ing off and rushing the passer.

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by Boss Hog (not verified) :: Sat, 10/13/2007 - 5:39pm

One game against Detroit doesn't prove that the defense is 'back', or that the Redskins have an elite defensive line, or anything extravagant like that. On the other hand, though, it does mean *something.* Especially since the Skins's demolition job was so complete.

Read into it what you will, but the Lions put up 380+ yards against Oakland, Minnesota, and Philadelphia -- two of which are in the top half of the league in pass defense (measured by DVOA). Sure, the Eagles offense thoroughly bulldozed the pathetic Lions' D, but the Lions yards weren't primarily in garbage time -- Roy Williams had 200 just in the first half, and Detroit put up 21 points.

The fact is that the Skins totally shut down a team that had been moving the ball with ease against some decent defenses. That may be the result of peculiarly favorable matchups, a special case of Martz brain-lock, or some other kind of non-repeatable fluke. But for me, the simplest answer is that our pass D is going to be pretty good this year.