Friday, September 30, 2011
This Play Should Have Never Happened
Gregg Easterbrook has morphed from an enjoyable, enlightened read (about 4 years ago) to a nearly insufferably smug ass.
With an agenda.
That said, when he's right, he's right. And I can't argue a bit with what happened to the Redskins on Monday Night on 3rd and 21.
Gregg, take it away...
Sour Play of the Week: Washington leading Dallas 16-15 just before the two-minute warning, the Skins had the Boys facing third-and-21 on their 30. Since the average NFL snap gains somewhat over 5 yards, and Washington this season is allowing 6.1 yards per snap, all the Redskins needed do was play straight defense and a stop was likely. That cannot seriously be an eight-man blitz on third-and-21! The eight-man blitz is almost never seen, because it is like handing out a card that says "Please score a touchdown." Tony Romo threw a 30-yard completion to the single-covered Dez Bryant, penalty yardage was added, and a moment later the home team launched the winning kick.
On the possession, Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett called an eight-man blitz on first down, a seven-man blitz on second down and an eight-man blitz on third down. He also handed out cards saying "Please score a touchdown." Dallas settled for as field goal.
In 2009, Washington had the league's ninth-ranked defense, playing a conventional, conservative style. In 2010, Haslett became the Skins' defensive coordinator and, arriving, declared he would install a blitzing defense that made big plays. It did, for the opposition. Blitzing madly, Washington sank to 31st in defense. Calling lots of six-or-more-man blitzes lets the defensive coordinator feel macho, but rarely leads to victory. As noted by reader Mike McLaughlin of Spokane, Wash., even Skins corner DeAngelo Hall thought an eight-man blitz on third-and-21 was ridiculous.
Last season against another Texas team, Houston, the Skins held a comfortable 17-point lead late in the third quarter. Straight defense would have made victory likely. Instead, Haslett called blitzes on 19 of the remaining 40 Houston snaps, and Washington lost. The low point came with the Redskins leading 27-20, Houston facing fourth-and-10 just before the two-minute warning -- a situation very similar to last night's. Just like last night, Washington did not need a sack or turnover, merely an incompletion. The Skins big-blitzed, leaving the other team's best wide receiver (in this case Andre Johnson) single-covered, just like last night. Johnson caught a long touchdown pass, and Washington had shot itself in the foot.
This sort of thing is an example of the reality that while NFL teams have gigantic staffs (the Redskins list 20 coaches) who do nothing but football year-round and boast of their long hours at the office, NFL teams consistently repeat obvious mistakes. The "Monday Night Football" error by Haslett against Dallas was nearly identical to his previous-year error against the Texans. Twenty coaches looked at film of the 2010 Texans loss and learned nothing from it.It should be noted, that Haslett was hired by Shanahan out of the UFL, a league that is now dormant, with good reason. The Skins first choice was Mike Zimmer of the Bengals, who instead decided to stay a Bengal for surely less money than Dan Snyder would have thrown at him to come here.
That said, the Skins defense is markedly better this year, mostly because they have younger and better players. Plus, that karmic sinkhole Albert Haynesworth is doing his "magic" on the Patriots defense right now.
I don't think Haslett is any great defensive mind. He's a straight forward guy, and honest. Which I like. But that WAS some stupid shit on Monday night. Let's try not to repeat it.