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.

FUN WITH WEAPONS; CHRIS THOMPSON CAN TAKE REDSKINS OFFENSE OVER THE TOP

It’s really hard to quantify how much of an impact Alfred Morris had on the Redskins in his rookie season. His 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns propelled this team to having a top 5 offense. While Robert Griffin III is an elite talent, without Alfred Morris’ hard nosed, physical style of running, the offense likely doesn’t work quite the same way; Morris allowed us to keep a balanced attack. With RG3′s accurate passing and his Morris’ threat as a runner, play action passes out of the pistol and the zone-read were a problem defensive coordinators could never figure out.

But, as awesome as Alfred Morris is — and let’s be clear here, Alfred Morris is awesome — his contributions in the passing game were lacking. Usually utilized as a last resort after Robert had gone through all his progressions, Alfred Morris only totaled 11 receptions for 77 yards out of the back field, while back-up running back Evan Royster had 15 receptions for 109 yards and fullback Darrel Young had 8 catches for 109. All told are running backs had a combined 34 receptions for 295 yards.

Many things help Kyle Shanahan’s offense go, but a running back that can pass protect on third down and catch the ball out of the back field can be just as deadly as anything else. Morris is a willing pass protector, and while he wasn’t the best at it in year one, I’d expect to improve in year 2. But when it comes to a change-of-pace back who can break the big play, that’s not Morris’ job. His job is to mash you into mush, tire you out and make you sick of hitting him all day.

Chris Thompson’s job is to make you pay for that laziness.

Mark over at Hogs Haven already showed one concept for a halfback wheel route using play action out of a two-back pistol formation. Here, we have an example of the Houston Texans running a similar play off a bootleg from a standard I formation.

The zone stretch and the bootleg suck the defenders up in the run game as they try to attack Matt Schaub before he can get the ball off. The receivers run inside seam routes to draw away the coverage outside, while Foster leaks out of the traffic and is wide open. Arian Foster wound up celebrating in the end zone after this play. With Chris Thompson, it’s as good as putting six on the board the second he gets his hands on the ball.

Another element that went missing from our offense was the screen game. With Helu out of commission, plays like this one completely disappeared.

Chris Thompson has some nagging health issues of his own, but despite being smaller than Roy Helu, I actually think he’s somewhat less of a health risk than Helu. Helu’s up right running leads to more hits on his legs and therefore more smaller, nagging injuries on his hamstrings, where as Thompson runs behind his pads a little more. And without having to take all the carries of an every down back, that would allow Thompson to be fresher. Here’s Thompson running a similar play at Florida State.

One more downfield block, and Thompson houses this for a touchdown, no doubt.

Another missing element from our offense was working the cutback lanes. It wasn’t that Alfred couldn’t do it; he could and can. But when defenses over pursue on the stretch run, we need to be able to punish them for chunk yardage.

I had to make this one bigger just so you can see the nasty, nasty cuts Thompson makes on this play. The defense over-pursues, taking away the end on the zone stretch run. Thompson sees it, puts a foot in the ground and accelerates through the backside hole, then has not one, but two lateral cuts that leave defenders asking where the hell he went. A tired defense that’s been getting beaten to mush trying to take down Alfred Morris and chasing Robert Griffin III is not going to stop Thompson on this play.

Another formation the Seminoles utilized with Thompson was a split back formation out of shotgun. Typically, you’ll see a split back formation with a running back and a tight end, which gives the offense latitude to have max pass protection while keeping their passing options open. The Seattle Seahawks actually utilized this formation a lot with Russell Wilson in their variation on the read-option offense. Check on this Field Gulls article to see more on how they utilize it. (I may not like the Seahawks, but the guys at Field Gulls do really great, knowledgeable work.)

At Florida State, they used this formation with their own mobile quarterback E.J Manuel. Here we see a zone run play, with Manuel in the gun with Thompson and #24, Lonnie Pryor.

Pryor gets a piece of number 40, and that’s all Thompson needs; he sees the hole form, plants and cuts up field. He breaks a few tackles and then it’s pretty much seven after down field blocks by his receivers. This is the kind of play easily transplant-able to the Redskins offense, and can be run with either Alfred Morris or Darrel Young operating as the lead blocker.

They also ran play action passes with this same formation, after Thompson rips off some big runs.

Pryor and Thompson cross the formation, sucking defenders up on the run action. The tight end, #35, runs a deep post. The linebacker is actually able to sink back under the throw, but an accurate throw beats him and it’s another big play in the red zone.

Ideally, Thompson could become our Darren Sproles; a change of pace back who can catch the ball out the backfield and turn what would ordinarily be a two-or-three yard chain mover into points on the board and big time plays.

If Thompson can come to camp relatively healthy and able to contribute even playing spot duty, he’ll add a huge dimension to our offense and make it much, much harder to defend. Watching Thompson play is going to be a fun ride, so get on board now and watch the magic happen.

BREAKING DOWN DAVID AMERSON: IS HE THE RIGHT PICK FOR THE REDSKINS?

Leading up to the NFL Draft if you would have asked me if the Redskins would select David Amerson with the 51st pick I would have laughed it off and listed a few other cornerbacks they should look at instead. Nothing personal against Amerson but I spent most of the pre-draft process looking for a player who could slip in the draft but had potential as a “shut down” cornerback or dynamic playmaker that could dominate as a nickel back.

The first two tapes I watched on David Amerson were vs the Miami Hurricanes and the Tennessee Volunteers. What I saw was a talented player that gave up a lot of big plays and didn’t play in the slot, after two games I didn’t see the guy I was looking for. Shortly after the watching those games everyone from Mike Mayock to Bucky Brooks echoed what I thought I saw on film, that Amerson was a boom or bust player with some really bad tape from 2012.I believe Mike Mayock even said he had never seen so many vertical routes given up by a cornerback.Once the “experts” co-signed what I saw on tape that was enough for me to close the book on Amerson and I made up my mind that he wasn’t a good fit for the Redskins, Or so I thought.

Sometime around 8pm on April 26th, 2013 the Redskins showed how smart I was and Selected David Amerson as their first pick in the 2013 NFL draft. I did what everyone does in 2013 when you want to vent your frustrations to the masses and took to twitter. My first tweet after the pick was “Son of a bitch”.. I try to keep the twitter pg-13 but nobody is perfect.Once I calmed down my next move was to spend the next seven days analyzing, possibly obsessing, over every play I could find of Amersons career at NC State. I started out disgruntled but then this Kevin Hart stand up popped in my head about trying to pick up women with car seats in your car…

In a weird way Kevin Hart was responsible for getting me to focus on the positive in Amerson’s game and not the negative, and I found a lot of positives that have completely changed my opinion of the pick and the player.Let’s find out what changed my mind and why I feel David Amerson can be a pro bowl player for years to come for your Washington Redskins.

Lets start with an overall video package listing some strengths and weaknesses in Amerson’s game…

One of the things that stood out to me in the video was this graphic.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen or read a scouting report that says Amerson struggles at the top of his back pedal,In fact it shows up on film a lot vs double moves and the vertical routes he gave up in 2012. Amerson’s issues at the top of his pedal look to be balance, weight transfer, and accelerating out of his stem when driving on underneath routes vs good route runners and faster Wide Receivers. Most people will chalk up Amerson’s flaws to eye discipline and call it a day. my feeling is eye discipline, and trying to compensate for the issues transitioning out of his pedal lead to him getting beat deep.

Lets check out some film…

In this shot David Amerson is defending the 11 yard square in vs DeAndre Hopkins With 2:37 left in the second quarter. The idea of this timing route is for Hopkins to eat up the space between him and Amerson and drive him into his back pedal to create enough separation to inside for the completion.

Amerson gets a good break on the route by reading the Quarterback and the Wide Receiver to force the incompletion.

 

On 2nd down & 10 with 2:31 left in the second quarter Clemson will use the same play but with Hopkins will run a double move on Amerson.

 

The pump fake by Boyd and In cut by Hopkins is enough to get Amerson to break on the route. Hopkins gets vertical as soon as Amerson bites.

 

Amerson is off-balance and could not make up the ground to stop the touchdown pass to Hopkins.

Nobody likes missed tackles and Amerson is too talented to be whiffing on ball carriers like this. The main reason Amerson misses tackles is because you can not tackle what you can not see. he needs to pick his head up and keep his eyes on his target. Amerson’s physical talent is not an issue, but he needs to clean up technique flaws to be a better all around Cornerback.

So why did I completely change my opinion on the Washington Redskins picking David Amerson? Simple, The Redskins cornerbacks do not back pedal.The coverages used by the Redskins are heavy in shuffle/pattern match techniques that enable the Cornerbacks to play with their eyes on the Quarterback while always being in a good position to make plays on the football. The Redskins main coverages consist of man trail, off man, zone, with some press/bail ( player decision ).

Here are a few examples of the shuffle technique used by the Redskins…

  • Pre-Snap read
  • Post Snap
  • Pre Snap in off man coverage
  • Post Snap shuffle
  • Pre Snap

  • Post Snap  shuffle

 

Anytime you can take a player and not only hide one of his biggest weaknesses but almost eliminate it all together that is a win in my book. The consensus among the scouts and draft niks is Amerson excels in zone, off man, and man trail coverage concepts, the same main concepts in the Redskins coverage schemes.

Now that I know Amerson will not be backpedaling a lot, if really at all in Washington, it was easy to re-watch all of his games looking for specific areas that mimic how he would be used with the Redskins. I came away thinking Amerson was a pretty impressive cornerback who could thrive in the Redskins secondary.

Here we have Clemson going for a shot play with a double move route concept for Deandre Hopkins vs David Amerson. On this play Amerson uses a shuffle/ slide technique (Like he will in Washington ) instead of a backpedal.

Hopkins breaks down trying to get Amerson to jump the in route so he can get vertical for 6. Amerson plays the concept well while reading the Quarterback and Hopkins.

Boyd trusts Hopkins to make a play vs Amerson and puts the ball up for grabs. Amerson keeps himself in between Hopkins and the goal line, gets square easily, and puts himself in position to make a play on the ball in a jump situation.

Amerson out jumps Hopkins and deflects the pass for the break up.

S.Alabama will run a single route play pass on 3rd & 1, 10 NC State players will sell out vs the run. Amerson is the only player to recognize the play action and bails to cover the Tight End.

Amerson gets back and high points the ball for the interception. His athleticism and elite ball skills really stand out on film,

Amerson in man vs Cincinnati.. Sorry for the picture quality but it was the best I could find.

Amerson shows off his leaping ability, long arms, and ball skills for the interception. Quarterbacks have less room for error with a guy like Amerson on the field because he makes the windows a little smaller to fit the ball in.

Clemson will run a post wheel combination vs NC State in the cover 3 on 4th and 18. The Wide Receiver across from Amerson will run a post route which Clemson hopes pulls Amerson to the middle of the field, opening up the sideline for Andre Ellington on the wheel route.

Amerson bails to his zone keeping his eyes on the Quarterback and reading his shoulders. At this point Amerson is baiting the Boyd to throw this football.

Ball is in the air and Amerson gets in between Ellington and the goaline and gets square to make a play on the football.

Amerson shows off his play making ability by high pointing the football and turning over the Clemson Tigers with the interception.

 

 

looking back at last year I feel like Amersons size and ability to play the football could have turned around a lot of plays last season …

All this talk about David Amersons physical ability but what about the mental part of his game ?  Watch the video below to learn about Amerson in the film room and the work he puts in to set up Quarterbacks.

Welcome to Washington D.C. David Amerson, It is great to have you on the team.

P.S. I really didn’t mean the son of a bitch comment.. Nothing personal #HTTR