September 29, 2014 in Redskins Personnel
The Redskins are sitting in last place through 4 games at 1-3, and after their embarrassing show Thursday night they need to turn things around quick before this season gets away from them. Washington will have their work cut out for them as through just a quarter off the season they have suffered a number of big injuries, including a number that will continue to affect them for the next few weeks at least. The Redskins though can't just assume that when they start getting some of these players healthy, that it will automatically turn things around for them. Not only may the effectiveness of these players be less than 100% when they return, but if the Redskins wait till week 9 and 10 to "make their move", it could already be too late. If Washington wants to remain relevant this football season, they need to start surprising some people (in a good way) and defy expectations.
Now this is not to suggest that the Redskins shake things up by firing coaches (that can happen in the offseason), but they have to look to change the depth chart and their philosophy if they want to steal some wins going forward. The number one thing is changing their game-plan and strategy both on offense and defense, because right now neither strategy is working.
On offense the Redskins need to become more run oriented in their approach and not get too cute with their play calling. Alfred Morris is a true bell cow back, and needs to be heavily relied upon this season. He's the best player on the offense and who the game-plan needs to flow through. This will remain true when RGIII comes back from injury, as Morris can be the guy to take pressure off of Griffin (who likely won't be 100%). To not be getting Morris the ball 20-25 times a game is basically giving a free pass to the opposing defense, who is going to be the most fearful of Morris beating them each week.
Now the excuse always comes up that the game situation will dictate how much the Redskins are passing. He's the thing if they are running more early in the game, then perhaps they won't be in so many situations where they are behind in the 4th quarter and don't have a choice, but to throw the ball. By admitting that you are letting the game situation dictate your play calling, you are admitting that you are letting the other team dictate how the game goes for you. Which speaks volumes of where this team is overall. Good-to-great offenses rarely have to "change their game plan" or "abandon their strength", butt the Redskins seem to have to do it 75% of the time.
When it comes to the defensive side of the ball the main adjustment needs to come from how the Redskins rush the quarterback. Outside of definite passing downs (2nd and 3rd and long mainly) the Redskins are using a lot of 4 man rushes to try to pressure the QB. The idea is that with a 4 man rush that typically includes Brian Orakpo, Jason Hatcher, Barry Cofield, and Ryan Kerrigan was going to find a lot of success. Unfortunately Cofield has been out since the first quarter of the first game and can't return until week 10. Orakpo and Hatcher have both been slowed by injuries, limiting their effectiveness to some degree. On top of that teams are doing a great job game-planning for the Redskins rush and are doing a nice job of taking them out of the game. It's resulted in very few pressures and sacks (outside of the Jaguars game), and is a troubling trend going forward.
The Redskins coverage unit was questionable even with DeAngelo Hall, and now without him for the rest of the year it is down right scary. Even having 7 guys back there going against 4-5 eligible receivers, it's not giving the Redskins any sort of advantage. The Redskins have to get more aggressive in their blitz packages and be more willing to bring 5 guys or 6 guys. At times it can lead to the defense giving up big plays, but those are happening already and the Redskins don't have the the positives of big defensive plays that blitzing will hopefully bring to balance it out. They have to do something to hurry quarterbacks and force them to make some bad decisions. If the Redskins can't boost their pass rush, they don't have a chance at trying to slow down opposing passing attacks.
It can be hard at times to get away from the game-plan you thought was the right call at the beginning of the season, but the Redskins need to use this long week to change some things, in their weekly approach. It's clear what they've been doing hasn't been working and isn't a strong game-plan for the final 3/4's of the season.