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Redskins Found A Formula For Success

Posted by Chris Herting on January 18, 2013 – 12:42 pm


(SB Nation Photo)

Last weekend during the NFC Divisional Playoff Round, football fans across the nation witnessed the San Francisco 49ers and second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick run all over the Green Bay Packers. In the process, Kaepernick set the single-game record for rushing yards by a QB (181 yards).

That, you know.

Now here’s the twist. A lot of those yards came out of the reviled/revered Pistol formation. Couple that with an opportunistic defense and a plus-1 turnover margin and the Packers became a stepping stone on the 49ers’ route to the NFC Championship Game in Atlanta.

You may ask, ‘Who cares? It’s not the Redskins,’ and you’re right. But the Redskins’ may have the same formula for success that the 49ers have used to get to two consecutive NFC Championships.

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Team + Torain Taking It To The House

Posted by Brian Tinsman on October 4, 2011 – 3:12 pm

Any time an offense successfully executes a big gain on the ground, it’s the product of any combination of three things:

1. Great blocking by the offense

2. The defense out of position

3. Great individual effort.

Midway through the second quarter of Sunday’s game, Ryan Torain was brought in the game as the Redskins third option at running back.  His first play of the season was a rush through the line for seven yards.  His second run was a 20 yard scamper to paydirt (pictured above).  Let’s break down what happened on the play.

The play kicks off with great blocking at the line of scrimmage.  The line shifts to the left on the handoff, while quarterback Rex Grossman rolls back to the right.  Running back Ryan Torain runs to the numbers and looks for his cutback lane.

He finds a huge hole between left guard Kory Lichtensteiger and Trent Williams/Chris Cooley, who have sealed off the edge.  To be fair, Lichtensteiger vs. Ben Leber (LB) and Williams vs. Quintin Mikell (S) is no one’s idea of a fair fight, but these are the opportunities to take advantage of on offense.

Torain is able to cut into the open field, which is when he becomes most dangerous.  Kudos to the blocking scheme and execution on the line for clearing the way to the next level. Read more »

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Chris Cooley, Offense’s Renaissance Man

Posted by Brian Tinsman on September 29, 2011 – 5:01 pm

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What do you do with two talented fullbacks out of training camp?  Find a way to keep them both, just in case.

What do you do when both get felled by injuries within 10 minutes of each other in practice?  Plug in your All-Pro tight end, Chris Cooley.

“I like playing fullback,” he said in the locker room this morning.  “Pretty much just about every part, except for lining up about 10 yards away from somebody, and both of us running straight at each other and smashing heads.”

Oh, is that not fun?

“But, that’s part of the game, and I’ll definitely do it,” he added with a smile, “but I’m not gonna say that I love it.”

When Cooley took a Grossman hand off up the middle for three yards in the first quarter, it was the first carry of his pro career.  Prior to that, his last rush came on Sept. 13, 2003, against Nebraska, as a member of the Utah State Aggies.

“It was pretty strange running the ball,” he said.  “It’s been a long time.  I mean, I ran the ball like twice in college.”

[Editor’s note: College stats: 4 rushes, 21 yards, TD]

“To be honest, my biggest concern was whether I was going to fumble the handoff or not,” he admitted.  “So after I got past that, I felt pretty good.”

One way for coaches to get the most out of their 53-man roster (and 46 gameday actives), is to find players willing and able to do multiple things. Read more »

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Offense Is Becoming Much More “Wrinkly”

Posted by Brian Tinsman on August 8, 2011 – 1:00 pm

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A common phrase in football circles is to say that offenses are “adding a wrinkle to their gameplan.”  What that actually means, is that it’s getting more specific, more innovative, and more creative.  The offense is certainly not up-to-speed yet, but everyday I see new routes and new patterns introduced out on the field.

Today, the receivers and quarterbacks were working on routes that put them in the back corner of the endzone.  Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan worked specifically with the receivers to improve the crispness of their routes.  Check out some of the video below: Read more »

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Redskins Defense Closes Out Practice Strong

Posted by Brian Tinsman on August 4, 2011 – 8:14 pm

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It’s a terrible time to judge the efforts of an entire unit, given that players are rotated through on virtually every play.  But because the Redskins have taken to closing out practices with simulated drives, offense vs. defense, it’s a worthy comparison.

This afternoon, the defense looked pretty average during 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 scenarios.  Here are some highlights (and lowlights): Read more »

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Beck’s Offense Taking Flight

Posted by Brian Tinsman on August 3, 2011 – 1:03 pm

AP Photo

Over the course of camp, I’ve written mostly positive reviews of John Beck, which has drawn the excitement of some, and the skepticism of others.  I’m here to clear the air, lest I be accused of “fluffery” again.

Beck was brought in on a minor deal last year to be a third-string quarterback.  The man has not thrown a pass in a regulation NFL game since 2007.  I get all that, but he has some qualities that could make him successful for this team.

First, he’s a mobile quarterback, and is very accurate on the move.  He’s not Michael Vick, and I don’t know that you would call him a dual threat.  But going up against some of the blitzes he will face this year, he better be able to move.  So far he’s been able to keep his eyes downfield, find that open man, and put the ball in his hands.

Second of all, he takes care of the football.  I haven’t seen a fumble on the quarterback exchange since the first day of practice, and his comfort with center Will Montgomery should only improve.  He also needs to learn the tendencies of his receivers, which will take time.

I find it hard just to remember all 11 names.

Like I said yesterday, when he’s throwing short and misses, he puts the ball into the ground.  When he’s throwing long, he misses long.  These are the safest places to miss, because they’re the places least likely to be picked off.

His receivers are still learning the routes and they’re still learning him.  But he’s gaining the trust of his teammates (which won’t really be tested until games begin), and the coaching staff has put him out there as the man to beat.

To put it simply, he does a lot of things well, and doesn’t try to do too much.  Does that mean he’s the answer at quarterback?  Not necessarily, but it’s the fifth day of practice and he looks alright out there.

With that being said, here are today’s…

Notes on offense: Read more »

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Practices Building Speed: Offensive Notes

Posted by Brian Tinsman on August 2, 2011 – 10:37 am

Some Redskins were still shaking off some soreness this morning as the team continues to build up the tempo.

While the team was still doing unit drills, Brian Orakpo was seen on the sidelines getting some extra stretching for his hamstrings.  He looked just fine once 11-on-11 started, so no need to worry.

Here’s some morning notes…

On offense:

The offense didn’t match up yesterday after the increase in tempo, but looked a little better today.  There are so many running backs and receivers in camp, it has to be hard to sync up with anyone right now.  Beck looked better.  Rookie free agent quarterback Marc Verica (UVA) looked to have pretty good touch on his short passes.

There were finally a couple big plays worth mentioning.  Running back Evan Royster looks really good and ripped off a couple big runs.  Head coach Mike Shanahan has said that this guy doesn’t jump off the paper at you, but he runs hard and he follows his blocks.  Not much more that you can ask.

Anthony Armstrong had his drops earlier during drills, but looked good in the 11-on-11 session.  At one point, defended by cornerback Kevin Barnes and safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, Armstrong came down with a Beck bomb for about 45 yards.

Fred Davis had the first drop that I’ve seen out of him all camp.  It was thrown way over his head, but he put both hands on it and probably could have come down with it.  Really good efforts on some other poorly thrown balls, so a good day for him.

Mike Sellers is trying to adjust to the tight end/H-Back position, but it’s not the smoothest of transitions.  His speed doesn’t seem to match up with the rest of the quickness on the the offense, and his hands aren’t his biggest strength.  Hopefully he’ll develop or they move him back to fullback.

Because you asked:

Malcolm Kelly looked better today.  He had one particularly nice catch from Verica on a 15 yard crossing route during 11-on-11.  He didn’t stand out as great today, but he didn’t stand out for the opposite reason either.  Probably his best day so far.

More to come on defense and special teams…


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Pass Defense Looks Sharp In Match-ups

Posted by Brian Tinsman on July 30, 2011 – 12:25 pm

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The highlight of any practice is when the offense lines up against defense for 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills.  The fans become really engaged and yelled out their encouragement (or frustration) to the players.  I found myself muffling my own outburst a few times, almost forgetting where I was.  And I may have pretended it was the guy next to me.

As they will throughout camp, the players circulated through different combinations on both sides of the ball.

Recap on offense: Read more »

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