Category: Film Room

FILM SESSIONS: PAT WHITE’S GOOD (BUT COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY OVERRATED) PRESEASON GAME

You know, when I posted this blog about Colt Brennan, I did it with the hope that people would take my joke and take preseason for what it is; an evaluation period, and a way for people to audition for other teams.

Even before the game, I had a feeling it was coming. I had the feeling Rex would be Rex (i.e streaky, inconsistent, frustrating and amazing all at once), and then Pat White would come in and most people’s common sense would go out the window.

Pat White is gonna come in, he’s going to have some pretty runs, and #Redskins fans will act stupid.

— Kenneth Clyburn (@kcclyburn) August 9, 2013

And then it happened. I don’t know if I’m shocked that people have done everything from suggesting that Pat White’s in a legit competition for the third job (he’s not), suggesting we could trade Cousins next year and Pat White would be the number 2 quarterback (never going to happen), and people on the radio suggesting that we should trade Robert Griffin III and keep Pat White. (Please mail in your fan card.)

While one can’t discount that Pat White did have a solid outing, his impact and his potential has been overrated in the same sense that Colt Brennan’s was 5 years ago. Perhaps even more so, as in an abstract sense, Colt probably made more difficult throws and bigger plays than Pat White.

But let’s go through the plays one by one and see just how good Pat White was.

1st Play:) Easy pitch and catch rhythm throw. Logan Paulsen runs a short cross and sits down and gives Pat White his numbers. Nice, simple pay.

2nd Play:) Pat White gets bailed out by Logan. White throws this pass high and outside, with Paulsen running the same short crosser that he ran before.

3rd Play:) White puts the ball in the only place he can on this out route. The ball is high (even though it sort of has to be) and Nick Williams drops it.

So, first three passes, all sort stuff, nothing intermediate or into the second level. Also, White is not making or going through progressions. He has a pre-determined route he’s going to throw to no matter what, and he’s staring down those routes. Let’s continue.

4th Play:) White throws the ball behind Briscoe on the slant route. Another short route that White stares down.

5th Play:) White stares down Niles Paul on this little flat route. Another short, easy completion for Niles.

6th Play:) White stares down Nick Williams on the out route. No progressions, nothing deep or intermediate. Another short throw and an easy completion.

7th Play:) This is your bread and butter read-option play, only this time it’s versus future insurance salesman and mall kiosk workers. The linebacker and DE both crash. Paul blocks the LB which opens a huge lane for Pat White. A good gain and a decent run, but again; context is everything.

8th Play:) The Redskins run the naked boot out of the Pistol. But something about this play is different. On a typical bootleg, the players drag or cross the formation on the run. This play, however is a two receiver play. The tight end Niles Paul doesn’t even go out on a route; he blocks the linebacker instead. Dez Briscoe runs a deep route, which clears things out, giving White a clear running lane.

Without knowing the play, I can’t be sure, but it seems like this wasn’t so much a passing play as a designed quarterback keep run play.

9th Play:) White again stares down this slant route to Lance Lewis. Another short route with nothing deep or intermediate.

Now, why does it matter than Pat White is only throwing short? The simple answer is, these short, easy throws effectively had Pat White’s lack of arm strength. These are simple route combinations and simple concepts that can be run against any defense. And particularly against a vanilla defense in preseason, which is even more important when one considers someone for a back-up or third quarterback role.

10th Play:) This time, White’s staring down receivers nearly comes back to bite him. As soon as the ball is snapped, White has his eyes locked on Skye Dawson on the short curl route. The cornerback drives on the ball and nearly picks it off.

11th Play:) This is the only genuinely impressive play White makes, but it does show a little bit of what I’m talking about throwing into the second level. The ball is thrown beyond ten yards, on the run, but it’s got a little bit of a rainbow arc to it. It’s not a bad throw, but it’s about the extent of his arm is gonna go in the NFL.

12th Play:) Another zone read keeper. This time the LB recovers and Pat only gains a yard on the play.

13th Play:) This is one of the crazy things about White staring down receivers. The ball is snapped and White is staring to his left. The entire defense gets pulled to the right by White’s eyes, which opens up a huge void in the middle. White walks in standing up because he was so undisciplined with his eyes that an entire part of the defense thought they knew where he’d throw it.

14th Play:) Once again, White stares his potential receiver to the right. The defense doesn’t give him a lane, so he scrambles left. He throws this off the back foot, and here we get a real example of Pat White’s lack of arm strength; this ball dies about halfway in the air. How he hit #80, I’ll never know. But he did.

What Pat White did versus the Titans is certainly commendable, but it is not admirable, and it certainly not as impressive as people pretend it was. Much of the “love” for Pat White’s performance comes out of an un-ending, ever burning of Rex Grossman and everything he stands for, and misunderstanding whether or not it was White’s natural talent, or a offensive coordinator who had the world convinced John Beck could be a starter based on his preseason a couple years ago.

People want us to “develop” Pat White. The issue is, we still have two quarterbacks already in the oven. And while everyone has been extra focused on trying to trade Kirk Cousins, the truth is that, unless we get a godsend of an offer, Kirk is going to be the back-up quarterback here until at least the last year of his deal. And in that time, Rex may not be the third quarterback. But Pat White won’t be either.

White was bought in to simulate the read-option and be a camp arm. When the roster cuts come, even on the off chance Rex Grossman isn’t on the roster, chances are Pat White won’t be either. There is nothing to develop. Pat White is an undersized quarterback with a pop cap arm. The offensive coordinator made him look mildly efficient against a bunch of guys who, unfortunately, probably won’t have jobs three weeks from now.

Rex may have indeed looked terrible (which he didn’t really, but that’s for another post), but at least he was going up against starters (the Titans kept their starting defense on the field deep into the second quarter) or guys who more or less have roster spots. White not so much.

Let’s have some perspective, not be so reactionary, be happy Pat White played well enough to get the win, but not well enough to think he can be more than what he has been in the NFL.

FILM SESSIONS: HITTING THE QUARTERBACK IS A STUPID WAY TO STOP THE READ-OPTION

I shouldn’t have clicked it. I knew what I was getting into when I clicked on it. But curiousity killed the cat. And so I read Andy Benoit’s column on Robert Griffin III, and of course, came away annoyed and frustrated, because it is yet another article that seems to not understand how and why the Redskins offense works.

I’m loathed to actually link back to that article, but for the purposes of debunking this, I’m going to have to.

We may see less of these called in the coming season, especially since defensive coordinators spent the offseason devising ways to snuff out the scheme. Their rather simple solution will be to hit the quarterback whether he keeps the ball or not, which is legal because he is essentially a running back taking a direct snap. The hits just have to be delivered within the natural timing of a handoff, which won’t be a problem since unblocked edge defenders have an unimpeded path to the mesh point. (Think of hockey defenders playing the man instead of the puck.)We already saw the Ravens start delivering zone-read hits like this with Terrell Suggs in the second half of Super Bowl XLVII.

Benoit is not the first columnist to assert that more defensive coordinators are simply going to instruct their OLBs or DEs to hit the quarterback whether or not the ball is handed off, and Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said as much when asked about the read-option. The thought process appears to be that, by plastering the quarterback whether he has the ball or not, offensive coordinators will be scared into not calling the play as much, less they want to see their quarterback peeling themselves off the ground on every play.

It seems like the definition of “success” in stop the read-option begins and ends with stopping the quarterback. That’s what we’re really talking about here; stopping Robert Griffin III from running. Andy Benoit goes as far as to assert that if RGIII doesn’t transform into a traditional pocket passer and “be can’t master downfield reads from the pocket, he’ll never be more than a likable version of Michael Vick.”

(Side note; Woe be the the next black quarterback who comes into the NFL with braids coming out the back of his helmet, for he will always be compared to Michael Vick.)

While there about a dozen things Andy Benoit gets wrong in his article (including Brian Orakpo’s season ending triceps injury, which would be a shock to anyone who thought he injured his pectoral muscle, but that would’ve taken 5 extra seconds on Google to figure out, and screw that noise), the notion that hitting the quarterback “stops” the read-option is what we’ll focus on. Namely, because hitting the quarterback doesn’t stop the read-option; it, at best, stops the quarterback from running.

This where there the disconnect seems to start; analyst and defensive coordinators alike treating the read option like a designed quarterback draw, rather than paying attention to the “option” part of it. Wherein the quarterback has the option of either keeping the ball for himself, or handing the ball off to the running back.

It’s interesting Benoit brings up the way the Ravens played the 49ers in the Super Bowl, because in the Ravens’ Week 14 match-up versus the Redskins, they employed the same “hit the quarterback” strategy that is supposed to be all the rage.

And Alfred Morris destroyed them on the ground.

The following are all from the Redskins first drive versus the Ravens, using their “hit the quarterback no matter what” tactic.

The Redskins line up in their pistol set with 21 personel (2 WRS, 1 TE, 1FB, 1RB) grouping. Paul Kruger is line up at the right DE/OLB spot, and he’s going to gun straight for Robert Griffin III at the snap.

Right away, you see Kruger has no intention of going after the ball carrier. His job on this play is to squash RG3.

But, that’s where the whole “read” part of the zone-read or read-option comes in. Griffin reads Paul Kruger crashing down towards him and hands the ball of. Alfred finds a huge cutback lane and cuts this up field for a gain of 29 yards.

Next, we see the Ravens are goin to send a blitz off the left side of this formation with Courtney Upshaw and Benard Pollard. Again, they’re job is to completely ignore the read and hit the quarterback.

This time, the Redskins run the outside zone play to the opposite side. This ends up only being a gain of three, but a runner with a little more burst than Evan Royster would’ve had a huge lane to the opposite side. Upshaw and Pollard are left looking dumb as they are completely taken out of the play.

Commiting two of your best defenders to stopping one guy, only to leave them completely out of the play doesn’t seem like a great strategy. But I guess I’m not an NFL defensive coordinator.

It looks like they need to try again. The Ravens come out in a 2-4-5 nickel allignment versus the Redskins 11 personel. (3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 RB).

Upshaw isn’t concerned with the run or with Pierre Garçon’s motion in the back field. He just wants to zero in and hit the quarterback.

But this defense is screwed just by design. Logan Paulsen comes up threw the hole to block #51, and Tyler Polumbus got to the second level to block #53.

If Alfred Morris had cut to his right off Logan’s block, this could’ve been an even better gain than just 5 yards.

Upshaw gets his feet screwed into the ground nowhere near RG3.

Second verse, same as the first. Upshaw ignores the run and the back field motion…

Upshaw actually does get a shove on RG3 this time by shoving him. But you can already see Logan Paulsen coming through the hole and getting to the second level to take on Ed Reed.

Great job hitting the quarterback long after he’s gotten rid of the ball. Bad job of actually stopping the Redskins opening drive. At this point, Kyle Shanahan knows the Ravens are going to be hitting Robert Griffin III on the read-option plays. But the Redskins are gaining substantial yardage on every play. So why on Earth would he stop calling it?

This time it’s big Haloti Ngata that guns for RG3 of the zone-read play fake…

Ngata does put Griffin on his butt, but now before Pierre Garçon catches a screen pass that goes for 23 yards, setting the Redskins up for the first touchdown.

Griffin attempted only 1 pass before Pierre Garçon set the Redskins up in the red zone, and they moved the ball 80 yards using the read-option. Furthermore, on their following drive, the success of the read-option and running the ball was so great that it opened up the play action pass game to set up two straight scoring drives.

“But that was the Ravens without Terrell Suggs!” I can already here someone say. Well then, let’s go look at how hitting Colin Kaepernick worked in the Super Bowl.

Huh. Well it certainly didn’t work here on this 7 yard gain from Frank Gore…

Or this 9 yard gain from LaMichael James…


Suggs guns it towards Kaepernick…

And it’s a huge 21 yard game that helped the 49ers keep the momentum.


Suggs crashes on the quarterback again…


And he gets blocked by LaMichael James while Kaepernick goes for 3 yards that set up a 7 yard touchdown scramble.

Oooh, looks like Suggs is really going to put a lick on Kap this time…

And he does…but not before Gore gains 8 yards.

Suggs has all eyes on Kaep…

Goes right for the quarterback…

And gets to watch Frank Gore rip off a 33 yard run.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from the 49ers Super Bowl loss, it’s that they should’ve stuck with the read-option. Despite giving some read-option looks, in the first half, most hand offs to Frank Gore were “conventional” runs. In the 4th quarter alone, the 49ers gained 67 of their 187 rushing yards for the whole game utilizing the read-option, including both of Frank Gore’s game changing runs, which accounted for 54 of his 110 rushing yards on the game.

And once the 49ers realized it was working, they did not stop running it, despite being down when conventional wisdom says you have to throw the ball late to get back in the lead, despite the fact that the Ravens were sending Terrell Suggs to hit Kap every time he handed it off. Instead, they kept running it. Like any good offensive coordinator would do.

If these two games aren’t a big enough showcase of why hitting and focusing on the quarterback doesn’t work, Kevin Grant broke down the 49ers vs. Falcons NFC Championship game where, yet again, hitting the quarterback and focusing primarily on him didn’t work. If you want even more proof, go and look at the Falcons vs. Redskins game, where Alfred Morris ran for 115 yards on 18 carries.

Perhaps defensive coaches are thinking they’ll gladly give up the chunk yardage on the ground as long as the quarterback doesn’t run. That seems to be the goal; to stop the quarterback from running and only stop the quarterback. It’s a flawed premise that is not based in any sort of factual or realistic analysis of film. Further more, the things you can do off the read-option play fake in the passing game further complicates matters for defenses.

(Of course, if you’re Robert Griffin III, play action is supposed to be a bad thing, because of, ya know…REASONS, I guess.)

Andy Benoit is just parroting the same ol’ stuff that people keep saying about the read-option, and pushing the same sort of lies about the offense, and defensive coordinators seem hell bent on trying the same thing over and over and over again hoping this time it’ll work.

It won’t.

As I’ve asserted before, the best way to defend (not stop, but defend) the read option is to get ack to basics, play with discpline, and make good solid tackles. As has become increasingly clear in the NFL, defenses have relied more and more on being aggressive and laying big hits than discipline.

The read-option will leave on, and it’ll continue to be successful. It remains to be seen if defensive coaches and columnist like Benoit will be willing to admit their mistakes.

(My bet is on “nope”.)

FILM SESSIONS; “GIMMICKY” ROBERT GRIFFIN III RUNS THE SAME OFFENSE AS REX GROSSMAN AND MATT SCHAUB KC Clyburn

If the only way you get your football news is through ESPN and/or NFL Network, then chances are when you see the words “Robert Griffin III runs the same offense as Rex Grossman”, either your eyes bulge out of your head, or you laugh yourself into a coma. Rex Grossman is about as athletic after his ACL injury as a slug stuck in tar.

But what people get caught up in, naturally, is Robert Griffin III’s athletic ability and the read-option, which didn’t constitute as much of offense as people think. Ninety percent of our offense are the same plays we ran with Rex Grossman, John Beck and Donovan McNabb, only more efficiently. A highly effective run game and play-action passing have always been the basis of Mike Shanahan’s offense; RGIII’s athletic skillset only heightens and strengthens an offensive mindset that Shanahan has held since he was coaching Steve Young in San Francisco.

One of the plays that has become a bread and butter play since Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is what I’ve called the “TE Leak” play. It is a great way to take advantage of team over-pursuing on the run.

Here, we can see former Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb running the play in Week 2 of the 2010 season versus the Houston Texans.

Off the snap, Donovan McNabb fakes the hand off to Clinton Portis going left, simulating the zone stretch. The linebackers crash the line to stop to the run.

When the linebacker and the defensive linemen see Donovan on the bootleg, they change direction. Number 59 drops into coverage to his left and the d-linemen number 95 tries to get up field. Meanwhile, Fred Davis (circled and wearing his old number, 86) is “sifting through the trash”, so to speak. The receivers, in the meanwhile, are running deep vertical routes to clear out a path.

By time McNabb executes the bootleg and hits his back foot, Fred is already open and the defenders are in chase position.

Fred catches this pass with miles and miles of green grass in front of him. (Watch the video to see the awesome block Clinton Portis throws.)

This was one of the few big plays it seemed that Donovan McNabb could hit with regularity, and it does a perfect job of taking advantage of an overly aggressive defense that’s trying to shut down the run, which should assist in keep defenders out of the box.

One year later, we saw the Redskins run the same thing with Rex Grossman. They line up in the same exact formation that they lined up in with McNabb.

Grossman fakes the hand off, which draws the linebackers in to stop the run…

Grossman isn’t a run threat, so when the defenders recover, they drop into coverage instead of attacking him in the pocket. Because of this, it takes a little longer for Fred Davis to get separation.

But the defender is in zone coverage, so he stops his drop. This allows the Fred Davis to get the proper separation on his route and once again, he has miles of green grass in front of him. Rex under threw this pass, otherwise it would’ve gotten a lot more yardage,

Next, it’s Robert’s turn. This is week 8 versus the Steelers. The Redskins actually line up in a three tight end set on this play, but the routes and the concepts are exactly the same.

Same bootleg action, same reaction by the linebackers. We’re back to having a run threat which means a defender goes rushing to try and crush the quarterback. This time it’s Logan Paulsen who sifts through the trash and works his way open.

RGIII threw a beautiful ball and Logan laid out for it, but they come up just short. See once again how open Logan is.

The Redskins would return to this play after their bye week versus the Philadelphia Eagles. This time, the Redskins line up in the pistol formation with Darrel Young lined up at fullback and Alfred Morris as the deep back. Tiny difference in formation, same exact play and concept.

RGIII has to shorten the boot a touch because of the pistol…

This time, Robert hits his back foot and it looks like Logan’s open with the linebacker trailing. But Robert doesn’t pull the trigger on the throw. It’s possible he thought the linebacker was recovering, but Robert can make this throw, and made a similar throw just a few weeks prior, even thought he didn’t connect on it.

Instead he decided to pull the ball down and run. To make matters worse, after a minimum gain, he nearly fumbled the ball.

This is a throw Robert will get more consistent about making with more time with his receivers and more time develop his talents as a passer.

Want to see it one more time? How about we take a trip to Houston? As you can see, it’s the same formation…

But this time, they’re going to run the bootleg to the left. Because they’re running the naked boot to the left, it takes a little longer for the play to develop, but it still does. Like the plays above, the linebackers get overly concerned with stopping Arian Foster and crash the line. Like with Rex, they know that Rex isn’t really a threat to run with the football, so they don’t attack him. And like all the plays, Owen Daniels gets wide open.

As soon as Schaub finishes the boot and hits his back foot, the ball is out and Daniels has got a lot of green in front of him.

This play ended up being a touchdown for Houston.

Now, of course, this is only one play in the playbook. But, the next time someone laughs when you tell them that Robert Griffin III runs the same offense the Redskins have always run, you can at least show them one case of it being true.

FILM SESSIONS: DID ROBERT GRIFFIN III GET HURT RUNNING THE READ-OPTION?

It has always been Mike Shanahan’s assertion that the read-option actually protects the quarterback, rather than put him in harms way. I, personally have agreed with Mike Shanahan. In the passing game, the read-option slows the pass rush, effectively making the defense have to read and react instead of rush upfield right at the quarterback. It’s why the continued insistence that the best way to stop the read-option is to hit the quarterback makes so little sense; if you are overly aggressive (as Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick all proved) in a rush to hit the quarterback, either the quarterback can get a huge play, or the ball gets handed off the back, and you probably get flagged.

In the run game, the read-option protects the quarterback for creating cleaner, more defined rush lanes than you would on a typical scramble. On a scramble, you likely don’t have the same level of protection; in the read option, you get more in the way of offensive linemen, wide receivers and tight ends blocking down field.

Still, that hasn’t stopped people from insisting, despite everything, that the reason Robert Griffin III got hurt last season was because the Redskins ran the read-option. Not to mention the continued speculation that RGIII didn’t like how he was being used, and that he took an abnormal amount of shots running it.

While I don’t expect the Redskins to have their quarterback have 120 rushing attempts next season, I do know that the read-option will always be a wrinkle in this offense, as long as RGIII can run it and as long as defenses still can’t manage to figure it out. But that does beg the question; did running the read-option expose Robert Griffin III to more injury?

My immediate thoughts compiling this video were simple; no. No, running the read-option did not expose RGIII to more injury. As I’ve rewatched the games, some of the biggest, hardest shots RGIII has taken in his career have been blind side shots in the pocket. That’s not to say that he didn’t occasionally get popped running the football. But on the whole, I found that Robert Griffin III was far better about getting down, and getting out of bounds and protecting himself on the read-option runs, than he was on the scrambles.

The times when Robert did get hit, I found it to be a result of Robert’s own hubris rather than the design of the play. Griffin is an incredible athlete, but he, as most athletes do, has to learn to protect himself, read-option or not.

The concussion Robert suffered versus Atlanta is a key example of this. The Redskins are in the 3rd quarter of a 7-7 game on 3rd and goal. Off the snap, right tackle Tyler Polumbus gets blown up off the ball. Chris Chester tries to get over and help, but by that point, Robert has already sensed the pressure and rolls out to his right. Which is fine. But the mistake Robert makes here is not knowing when to let a dead play go.

From the All-22, you can see that as Robert rolls, no one is open. At that point, the ball should’ve been thrown away. Robert has the sideline to get out of bounds, or he has the option to throw it away once he leaves the pocket. Instead, he breaks it upfield. There are three men in white shirts all with their eyes on the quarterback, and again, no one comes open. He makes the decision to get down and out of bounds far too late, getting drilled in the head and having to leave the game.

This is a case of the rookie not taking the game situation into account. The Redskins still took a 3 point lead after this when Billy Cundiff made a short field goal. Mike Shanahan used to tell Jay Cutler “don’t make it happen, let it happen.” This is a case of Griffin trying to make something happen, with there was no play to be made, and it wasn’t a game situation that called for a play to have to be made.

The Baltimore game is another example of Robert Griffin III not taking what the defense gives him.The situation is slightly different, as the Redskins did need a touchdown to tie it up. But, they’re also in four down territory with all three time outs. He didn’t have to cut this ball back inside in this case, especially since the defense essentially gave him the sideline.

RGIII gets pressure off the left side. When he rolls out, he has a lot of green grass towards the sideline. Robert gained 13-yards on this play after cutting up field. It’s hard to believe Griffin wouldn’t have gained at least that if he took the ball up the sideline and used it as his personal protector. He would still put the Redskins in a reasonable down and distance situation, and most importantly he’d be healthy.

It also brings up another nitpick; diving head first. RGIII has insisted that he was trying to get down on this play. Even so, his decision to dive head first instead of slide is a bad one, and a decision Griffin makes too often. Granted, he’s not the best slider in the world (can someone call Bryce Harper to give him some lessons?), but this is another case of not protecting himself. The difference in yards if he slides feet first is likely negligible, and again; he gets the team in a reasonable down and distance and gets to stay in the game.

The same could be said when he re-aggravated his injury in the playoff game versus the Seahawks.

You have to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em. When it comes to next year, the big question won’t be “will the Redskins keep running this dangerous read-option”. The read-option isn’t as dangerous as people pretend it is.

The question will be, can RGIII become a smarter football player when it comes to protecting himself. His competitive drive and his belief in his ability is part of what makes him special, but the great quarterbacks learn to contain that belief in themselves and channel it into becoming better all around players. When you need that extra yard, you can go for it. But when you don’t, you have to have the wherewithal to live to see another down.

RGIII is a smart guy. I have no doubt he will learn those lessons, and the team will be all the better for it, now and in the future. The team ran the read option, a designed quarterback run, or triple option 50 times before the bye week; they ran it 20 times after the bye, basically abandoning the triple option after Robert Griffin III asked Kyle and Mike Shanahan to open up the offense. And the bulk of those carries came late versus Philadelphia when the team was running time off the clock, and in the Dallas game. That leaves an additional 50 times that Robert Griffin III scrambled on his own, without it being the called play.

120 carries is a lot for any quarterback, and that number of carries won’t likely be eclipsed again. But the read-option and elements of the triple option will continue to be parts of our offense as long as Robert’s able to run them. And given the fact that RGIII apparently has Wolverine’s healing factor that should be for a while to come. (Ha! Nerd jokes.)

FILM SESSIONS: SANTANA MOSS 2012 ALL REGULAR SEASON TARGETS AND CATCHES

62 Targets
41 Receptions
6 Drops
8 Touchdown
573 Yards

Watching Santana Moss play in 2012, I had two recurring thoughts, over and over again.

1.) I wish they’d get Santana Moss the ball more, since he seems hungrier and more energetic then he’s been in years.

AND

2.) Can you imagine how great Santana Moss could’ve been if Robert Griffin III had been his quarterback for his entire career.

Moss didn’t see as much time on the offense as he previously had, but he did serve a roll as a clutch-go-to receiver for Robert Griffin III, while putting up the third-highest touchdown total of his NFL career. Moss saw action exclusively as a slot receiver, not lining up outside even once during the season, even with injuries the other receivers. Still, he was productive in that roll and still could get his fair share of yards after the catch.

He also had some issues with fumbles, though he only lost two during the season. One thing I noticed about this video is that Moss can still get open deep, and his route running is as good as other. As the passing game expands, it’ll be intriguing to see if Moss’ touches are similarly limited or if he’ll become more of a Wes Welker-style slot receiver.

FILM SESSIONS: PIERRE GARCON 2012 ALL REGULAR SEASON TARGETS/CATCHES

 

73 Targets
44 Receptions
633 Yards
4 Touchdowns
5 Drops

Pierre Garçon was the key acquisition of the Redskins 2012 free agency class, signing him just minutes after free agency opened. The immediate reaction was that the Redskins have overpaid, and after a foot injury and a shaky start, it seemed almost true. But Garçon came on after a 4 catch, 86 yards and 1 touchdown performance versus the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, following that up with an 8 catch, 106 yards and 1 touchdown performance versus the Giants the next week.

The Redskins utilized Garçon’s YAC ability in the  screen game, but in my opinion where he really shined brightly was down field in his route running. Garcon’s not a typical “deep threat” receiver, but going forward, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get more opportunities down field just based on his ability to turn DBs around with routes. In an odd way, it’s a blessing in disguise that RG3 and Garçon are both injured, since it affords them even more time to get to know one another and get that sense of timing down.

 

CHRIS THOMPSON PLUGGED INTO THE REDSKINS OFFENSE

While checking out a few Redskins message boards I noticed many fans pegging Chris Thompson as just a third down pass receiver out of the backfield. While I agree he gives Washington a dynamic pass threat from the Running Back position, he is at his best running the football, and he will add an explosive element to the Redskins running attack in 2013.

A casual observer would look at Alfred Morris and Chris Thompson as a the Redskins version of “Thunder and Lightning” but they are not as different as you might think. In fact they share a lot of common traits but one just works at a different speed than the other. Morris and Thompson both have great patience,vision, balance, cutting ability, and one cut discipline to excel in the Shanahan zone run game. Both backs also never go out of bounds on their own and always stay in bounds fighting for yards.Fact is that Chris Thompson has everything Mike Shanahan looks for in a Running Back and then some.

So what separates Thompson from Morris?

What separates Thompson from Morris is the ability to set defenders up cutting on a dime at full speed. Straight line speed is nice but Thompsons ability to be explosive in and out of lateral movements all while reading the next level of defenders is unique and exciting. You miss one tackle on this guy and he will be in the endzone.

One of the question marks on Thompson is how successful can he be in the NFL at 5’8″ and 187 lbs? The answer is extremely successful in the Redskins offense. Many people like to compare him to Darren Sproles, but the player Thompson’s game resembles the most is Warrick Dunn who had a great career at 5’9″ and 187 lbs. There is over 8 hours of coaching videos on youtube.com with Alex Gibbs teaching the wide zone to the Florida Gators coaching staff under former coach Urban Myer. In these videos Alex Gibbs praises Warrick Dunn as one of the best Running Backs ever to run his system along with Terrell Davis and Former Redskins Clinton Portis. Watching these videos will give you a good idea about how Thompsons skill set will be on display in Washington.

Fans are wondering how quick Thompson can learn the offense and how he fits in the run scheme. I figured I could talk about or simplify things by showing you so Lets get started.

Florida State lines up in the Pistol formation which should look very familiar to Redskins fans. This play is similar to one of the favorite Redskin plays from the 2012 season, zone read bluff. Florida State doesn’t use the zone read on this play but the Quarterback and Thompson both open away from the intended hole. The goal is to open backside lanes by getting the defense to over commit on the front side of the play. Thompson vision, quickness, and cutting ability are all on display here.

Here are the Redskins gutting the Baltimore Ravens with zone read bluff from the pistol formation.

Florida State runs an outside zone which showcases Thompson’s speed to out run pursuit angles to get to the edge of the defense.

The Redskins tried to use the outside zone read over the course of the 2012 season but did not have a back with the right skill set to make these plays a successful element in the offense.

Here is Evan Royster running wide zone from the Pistol Formation. This is a play that I feel could’ve gone for a huge gain or even 6 points with Thompson in the backfield. Everything added up to a big play except Royster was a little indecisive and lacks the speed to take advantage of small creases in the defense.

The All-22 shows the alley with 2 blockers downfield and a possible 1 on 1 matchup with former Ravens safety ED Reed.

Reed is a great player but it is no secret he has struggled tackling in the open field in the later years of his career. The Redskins won the game but I’m excited for the ability to hit on some of the big plays missed in the 2012 season.

Here is Thompson in the base wide zone run scheme. On this play he goes for 60+ but it was called back for holding. So why did I show you a play that was called back for holding.. Check out the play after the penalty.

Florida state shows the same formation while motioning to the opposite side of the field. Miami counters with a late rotation of their safeties and next you know Chris Thompson sets a school record for the longest touchdown run vs the Miami Hurricanes at 91 yards.

Here we have Thompson showing off the decision making,vision, and speed burning Wake Forest in the wide zone game. Thompson only needs a small crease to make you pay and that element added to Washington’s other weapons will cause issues for defenses.

 

Similar Play as Thompson ran above but Morris isn’t the type of back that will use speed to out run pursuit angles of defenders. Love some Alfred Morris and what he brings to the field on Sundays but his strength is getting his shoulders square and into the second level of a defense asap.

I don’t know about you but I’m excited to see the Redskins new toys at work this season. You can’t teach heart, speed, and play making ability, and I feel Chris Thompson brings all the above to Washington.

I suggest reading “Fun With Weapons: Chris Thompson Can Take Redskins Offense Over The Top” by KC Clyburn’s article for more on what to expect from Chris Thompson.

 

 

FILM SESSIONS: FRED DAVIS AND LOGAN PAULSEN 2012 ALL REGULAR SEASON TARGETS/CATCHES

24 Receptions
31 Targets
325 Yards
2 Drops
0 Touchdowns

Last year, despite only playing in 7 games, Fred Davis had the second most yards per target next to only Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. With Davis gone, an element was definitely missing from the offense; in 7 games, Davis was targeted 31 times with 5.2 targets a game. With Fred Davis gone, Logan Paulsen had 39 targets in 11 games, with 3.5 targets per game. Davis’ catch rate over those 7 games was 77.4 in his 7 games, while Logan Paulsen’s was 64.3. Davis also gained more yards in less games. The Redskins missed having a consistent tight end presence.

Davis signed a one-year “prove it” deal after a (mostly agent driven) tour around the NFL. The Redskins have plans for the tandem of Davis and rookie Jordan Reed, but Reed also serves as a convenient back-up plan should Davis be unable to come back. This is Davis’ year to prove he can be one of the best tight ends in the NFL, and hopefully his chance to stay on the team for the foreseeable future.

 

42 Targets
27 Receptions
308 Yards
1 Touchdown
3 Drops

What Logan Paulsen lacks in overwhelming athleticism he more than makes up for in effort. In the immediate aftermath of Fred Davis’ injury, Paulsen saw much more time and many more targets than he did at the beginning of the season. However, after Pierre Garçon came back  from his injury and the wide receivers began to see more targets, Paulsen’s targets and catches decreased.

It’s clear that the Redskins at this point value you more as a blocking tight end than an every down tight end, even though he (at times) showed the ability to do more than that. Even with the addition of Jordan Reed, Paulsen’s ability as a blocker and his overall work ethic likely means he will still have some balls thrown his way in some tough situations.

 

FILM SESSIONS: JOSH MORGAN 2012 ALL REGULAR SEASON TARGETS AND CATCHES (VIDEO)

49 Receptions
78 Targets
7 Drops
510 Yards
2 Touchdowns

The signing of Josh Morgan was met with some raised eyebrows a year ago, but the D.C born Redskin quickly won people over with his work ethic and attitude…and then lost it after a boneheaded but completely overblown penalty versus the Rams. Still, Morgan seemed to redeem himself in the eyes of most fans with his hard running and a few spectacular catches.

Morgan also played much of the season still dealing with a nagging ankle injury, not to mention several broken fingers, and damaged ligaments in his wrist. He played through a lot of pain in 2012, and split time with Hankerson in the primary number 2 role. With a year left on his deal, we’ll see if Morgan steals more and more snaps and earns himself a new contract.

FILM SESSIONS: LEONARD HANKERSON’S 2012 SEASON TARGETS AND CATCHES (VIDEO)

 

Leonard Hankerson

57 Targets
38 Receptions
6 Drops
543 Yards
3 Touchdowns

Discussions about Leonard Hankerson are always interesting. Hankerson was drafted in 2011 and was hyped up to be a potential starting receiver from day one. Instead, he spent half of his rookie season inactive, and after a break out game versus Miami, he was injured and on the shelf again.

The disappointment in Hankerson not turning into our number one receiver, the addition of Josh Morgan and Pierre Garçon, not to mention the spectre of a couple receivers Vinny Cerrato drafted that turned out to be bust, has colored opinion of him a touch.

Year three for wide receivers is usually looked at as the year when receivers really begin to break out. It helps that Hankerson appeared to add some lean muscle at training camp, and reports out of training camp suggest he’s looking more natural catching the football.

All told Hankerson had a productive-if-unspectacular sophomore season. The camp competition between he and Josh Morgan will be interesting to look watch as the Redskins continue to search for a complimentary wide receiver for opposite Pierre Garçon.