The Baltimore Ravens host the Washington Redskins on Saturday night for their third preseason game. The starters are expected to play into the second half, giving us a nice idea where the teams stand going into the regular season.
The Baltimore Ravens offense has shown a great deal of promise this preseason. The running game has been resurgent as Kubiak’s wide zone blocking scheme has worked splendidly. The Ravens offensive line was the main concern going into the preseason however it has looked good.
The offensive line should get a good test (at least from a pass protection standpoint) facing quality pass rushers like Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.
The Ravens focus offensively will be to get off to a fast start. In the first preseason game the offense had a beautiful 80 yard touchdown drive. In the second game the offense heated up but after a slow start. Rhythm and tempo is clearly important for this offense. Fast starts are so important for the Ravens.
For the Redskins its all about getting Robert Griffin III some much needed confidence. RG3’s performance was fairly pedestrian last week against the Browns (other than one deep bomb). The Redskins have weapons. Its up to RG3 to get the job done. Look for the Skins to start with easy, high completion passes. The Ravens defense has continued its troubles against screens, this may be just the test they need.
For the Ravens defense, the focus is on the front seven. With injuries to Ladarius Webb, Asa Jackson and Jimmy Smith the Ravens are short handed in the secondary. There is only so much you can do to help this-it may not look pretty in the Ravens secondary. The Ravens need to get good push up front. The time for the Ravens rush defense to step up is now; it has been unacceptable thus far. The tackling must be sharp, the fundamentals must be done well. The secondary may have its struggles but there are no excuses for the front 7.
Whether or not you believe the Redskins name must be changed, you understand the insulting nature of the name. This is not an article persuading in either direction of this debate. Dan Snyder is a stubborn man and a tiny blog post will not register on his radar. Lets however brainstorm the best ideas for a new franchise nickname:
1.) Washington Senators: For once we would have senators who actually do something. Granted this would be playing football not working on important legislature. They may even put in some overtime.
2.) Washington Pigskins: Would this really be a drastic change? Hail to the Pigskins, anyone?
3.) Washington Americans: The best thing about this is it would really tick off the New England Patriots.
4,) Washington Wolves: This just sounds badass.
5.) Washington Knights: A red and yellow sword would look great on their helmet.
Unless you live under a rock, you are quite aware of the mess that is the Washington Redskins. You are quite aware that Mike Shannahan has run a muck of the already messed up Washington Redskins.
It has been an embarrassing year for Washington. Their defense has set a record you don’t want to have, allowing the most points scored in a single season of Redskins football. Robert Griffin III has had a drastic sophomore slump. The team has seemingly quit on the head coach. The coach seemingly quit on the season.
Today was rock bottom. Mike Shannahan went on one of his power trips today, inactivating Robert Griffin III for the last 3 games of the season. A year after being anointed the historic franchise’s savior, RG3 has been demoted.
It’s hard to buy the whole “his best interest” routine coming from the Redskins hot-seated head coach. It’s hard to believe because it isn’t true. Mike Shannahan just laid the smack down of a lifetime to the quarterback who is supposed to be the team’s future.
Last time I checked it was not in the best interest of an able bodied QB to sit on the bench. Benching RG3 must shake his confidence and hurts his status in the locker room. How is this in Griffin’s best interest, or for that matter the team’s?
Is this the act of someone trying to get fired? Mike Shannahan is guaranteed $7 million wether they fire him or not. I don’t necessarily think it is an act to get fired. I don’t think Shannahan really cares at this point. If he is fired he has 7 million bucks, if he is retained he has 7 million bucks and another season.
This is most likely a way to stick it to the owner. There is not much Daniel Snyder can do as Shannahan goes all in. Shannahan walks out a winner either way. His contract gives him the power to play this game. He wins either way because of the guaranteed contract, but he may not walk away with people’s respect.
Something happened last year in the NFC East that had not since 1999. The Washington Redskins became relevant. After being 3-6 and all but done for the season, the fans and even Coach Mike Shanahan gave up. Luckily, RGIII did not give up. He exploded onto the scene last year propelling the Redskins to a 7 game winning streak to end the season which ultimately allowed them to win the NFC East and make the playoffs. This year in the NFC East things will most likely not change too much.
Let’s start things off with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have a lot of work to do. Quarterback wise Michael Vick seems to be ideal for Chip Kelly’s new system as he is a dual threat QB, but the last two years he has had trouble with protecting the football. The offensive line did get a little better as the Eagles spent their first round pick on OL Lane Johnson. That being said they still have a ways to go. As far as the defense is concerned, to put it lightly, they were bad. Fortunately, the Eagles did have a pretty decent offseason as they were able to pick up two solid cornerbacks in Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher as well as underrated safety Kenny Philips. It is difficult to predict what is to come of the Eagles this year. All of it will hinge on how effective Chip Kelly’s new offense can be and the quarterback play. Learning a new offense especially one as complex as Chip Kelly’s will take some time for everyone to get used to and we will likely see inconsistent play throughout the season. I predict a last place finish for the Eagles and a 7-9 record.
Next, the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys on paper usually have the best team, but for one reason or another they never amount too much or as Stephen A. Smith says, “They are an accident waiting to happen.” Because of their salary cap situation being up tight they could not make many moves, but Jerry Jones and the boys did get CB Brandon Carr to bolster the secondary as well as many offensive players in the draft. Sean Lee will also be back from injury and do not underestimate B.W. Webb the rookie cornerback out of William & Mary. He always seems to be around the ball, he knows what to do when he has it, and he can return punts as well as kicks if Dez Bryant is injured. The problem with them is they still have many needs such as on the O-line and D-line. Although they did make the right move in signing Romo long-term it does not appear he will lead them to a Super Bowl. That being said when you have a good quarterback you need to sign them as they are hard to find and Tony Romo is still a good QB. Overall, the Cowboys still have talent, but as usual, I believe America’s team will underachieve with a third straight season at 8-8 which will land them at third place in the NFC East missing the playoffs once again.
Third, the New York Football Giants. The Giants were very streaky last year starting out 6-2 but finishing 3-5 down the stretch and just narrowly missing the playoffs. They did sign a few players most notably interior linemen Cullen Jenkins from the Eagles who is a great run stopper. The Giants also got Ryan Nassib from the draft which is smart as Eli is not getting any younger and was not great last year. Interceptions have been a problem for most of Eli’s career which is why outside the playoffs I do not trust him and I believe he is overrated. The main problem with the Giants, however, is that they did nothing to improve the secondary which did not perform well. Corey Webster got burned way too much and everyone else in the secondary cannot stay healthy. Even in a mediocre division I do not see the Giants making the playoffs. They do not match up well with the passing attacks around the league especially that of Dallas and Washington. I predict a 9-7 record from them and a second place finish in the NFC East.
Last but not least, the Washington Redskins. As you can guess they are in my opinion the best team in the NFC East and I believe they will grab the 4 seed in the playoffs with an 11-5 record. RGIII when healthy or even when injured was the best player on the field. He has world-class speed, good decision-making, and a strong, accurate arm. All of this combined makes it almost impossible for opposing defenses to defend. Combine this with a decent offensive line, a great running back in Alfred Morris, and a good receiving core the Redskins will be fine on offense.
What they will need to improve is the defense particularly the secondary. Their front seven will be fine assuming Brian Orakpo can come back healthy. Now the secondary… Last year, if not for the New Orleans Saints secondary the Redskins secondary would have been historically bad. That being said help is on the way. Brandon Merriweather is a competent safety if healthy and that is a big “if.” The Redskins also got help in the draft. In the 2013 draft they got three DBs, two safeties and a corner named David Amerson, Bacarri Rambo, and Phillip Thomas. Amerson lead NCAA in interceptions two years ago and Rambo was 2nd behind him. Thomas lead the NCAA in picks last year. It is evident the skins have addressed their needs in the secondary with young talented “ball-hawk” defensive backs. There is nowhere to go up for the Redskins secondary and with talent on the way for the defense they look to be better than last year.
The NFC East will most likely be the least competitive division in football, but also could be the most intriguing as RGIII is always a must see as well as Tony Romo and Dallas. The Eagles will be the most exciting team to watch or at least a team we will all have our eyes on during week 1 because of their new offense under Chip Kelly. If they can play well on offense and put up big numbers there is no doubt that the NFC East will be the most exciting division to watch this year.
Are we taking the Washington Redskins to Lightly | Chris Schisler
Mike Shanahan and Bruce Smith have built the Redskins from the ashes. With quarterback Robert Griffin and one of the hardest hitting teams in the NFL, the Redskins are poised for a good season. Many people don’t see them as a playoff team citing their tough schedule and Robert Griffin’s health as their chief concerns. Most people seem to think the Giants are the team to beat in the NFC East. The average fan has taken two looks at their schedule and written them off. . There is not much hype surrounding the Redskins this year. The Redskins will surprise most people. There may be something special brewing in Washington.
Washington’s offense is a handful for any defense. The versatility of their quarterback and their power running game make them a threat for a big play. On any given play Robert Griffin III can beat you deep or run for a first down. Alfred Morris came on strong last year; the rookie runningback scored 13 touchdowns and ran for 1613 yards. The offensive line is one of the best run blocking lines in football. The zone running scheme they utilize sets up big runs. This sets up big plays in the passing game. RG3 is sensational at the play-action pass. The Redskins offense uses so many motions and there is so much going on in the backfield that defenses often play to hesitant and slow. Washington is a big play offense.
With a healthy Brian Orakpo the Washington defense may thrive. Ryan Kerrigan and Orakpo make up a great pass rushing duo. The front seven of the Redskins is a huge strength. The worries still remain with the secondary. Washington drafted cornerback David Amerson out of NC State who I believe was a steal. My biggest concern for the Redskins is their safties. This being said their pass rush will be so strong, it may not end up being a problem. The Redskins are very well coached. They own the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball with physical play.
The power hierarchy in the NFC is debatable. It would seem that San Francisco is the leader of the NFC. Seattle is also a formidable team and should give the 49ers a run for their money. The Packers will always have a shot with Aaron Rodgers all though their team has its weaknesses. The Saints figure to be somewhere in the equation; as recent history has shown us Drew Brees plus Sean Peyton equals a NFC South championship. Atlanta receives much of the NFC’s hype but has never done well in postseason play. The Redskins are the forgotten contender and could be a dark horse for the NFC’s Super Bowl bid.
The Redskins do have one of the toughest schedules, but they are one of the toughest teams. I am not willing to bet against Robert Griffin’s health, I expect him to be at full strength when the season starts. The Redskins have a big play offense. I predict their defense will produce sacks and turnovers as well. It would not shock me at all to see the Redskins win the NFC East. It would not even shock me if they had a chance at a Lombardi trophy.
Why The Pistol is not a fad | Chris Schisler | July 2, 2013
The pistol, the zone read and its variations are all here to stay in the NFL. These offensive philosophies have long been part of the college game. Now with more mobile quarterbacks than ever before it’s caught fire in the NFL. The idea is quite simple: to maximize all the talents of multidimensional quarterbacks. This “new” style of football is here to stay and is not a fad. Sure teams will get better at defending it. This argument is weak. Defenses have been exposed to conventional pro-style offenses for years and the pro-style offenses are still effective. And for the love of all things good do not compare the pistol offense with the wildcat. In the wildcat a runningback takes the snap and has 10 blockers. The wildcat is a one trick pony. The pistol may have more players in the backfield but it has no similarity to the wildcat offense. The pistol, the zone read and everything that comes with young mobile quarterbacks is here to stay.
It is important to note what the pistol and the zone read are. In the pistol the quarterback is half the distance from the center that he would be in the shotgun. A running back is typically directly behind him, with another back (often a tight end) to either side of the quarterback. The zone read is a simple way to avoid bad plays. The result of the play is determined by what the outside defender does. If the defensive end crashes inside the quarterback keeps the ball and runs outside. If the defensive end stays out the runningback will receive the handoff and will run under (inside) the defensive end. It is a simple play that works. The defense tells the quarterback what to do and the quarterback does it essentially.
I am not against quarterbacks who can run. I am against quarterbacks who can’t throw and defend on their legs. It works in the SEC, but the SEC is not the NFL. Before I get SEC fans (who are typically crazy biased) upset, may I ask why Timothy Tebow was not successful in the NFL. The moral of the story is that running quarterbacks who cannot throw do not work on football Sundays. Pass-first quarterbacks with the ability to run; now that’s a different story. If you have a quarterback who can beat the defense two ways why limit him to one? The key to the pistol/ zone read offenses in the NFL is that the quarterbacks are good passers. If the quarterback cannot pass you can compare it to the wildcat- an offensive strategy that I loathe.
Speed kills on both sides of the ball. Anything the offense can do to slow down or make the defenders job more complex is good for the offense. The zone read drives defensive ends crazy, especially in 4-3 defenses. The defensive end is taught to choose the running back against this offense. They are also taught to keep outside contain. These are two conflicting assignments and it creates confusion for the defender. The mere act of making a decision feeds into the offenses hands. This play is an incredible equalizer to the outside pass rusher. Also there is more going on in the backfield. With the use of motions from backs in the backfield the pistol is a way to confuse the defense. The runningback is behind the quarterback and is harder to see. This allows for very efficient hand offs and behooves attempts at trickery. These offensive elements set up big plays on the ground which sets up big plays through the air.
Critics of the system say defensive ends will be taught to hit the quarterback and that will end the fad. I don’t see this as a problem to the offense. The more aggressive you are in a zone-read play towards the quarterback the more success you set up for the runningback. Injuries are always a concern for running quarterbacks. This does not mean that we should limit that part of the QB’s game. It means we need to coach the quarterback how to reduce the frequency of being hit while running the football.
The game of football may have trended to a pass happy place, but the game is still built on the ground. The running game sets up the pass. Defenses have to play aggressive against the run. Nothing is worse than getting gashed on the ground. Gashing a team with the run allows the offense to move the ball and eat clock, limiting their opportunities. Don’t get me wrong you need a good quarterback to win a championship, this is indisputable. But the best teams in football have both great passing games and rushing attacks.
Look at Super Bowl 47. The Ravens and 49ers are both teams that run the football well. When the Ravens get Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce going it sets up big plays for Joe Flacco’s arm. The 49ers have built their entire offense out of the running game. No team pulls defenders out of position like the 49ers. The zone read, the pistol it is all about big plays. When they get big plays off the ground defenders gear up to stop it. Colin Kaepernick’s dynamic play makes the defense pay. In other words the defense is dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t.
There has never been such a good time to be a good running team. Defenses lean towards small fast lineups in order to blitz and cover. Teams that can run and pass play against this design.
The Redskins, Seahawks and Texans have built themselves on a run first model. In these offenses the run is the foundation that the passing game stands upon. These are a few of the more prolific teams in the NFL. Do you think Green Bay took 2 backs in the draft for shits and giggles? Not a chance! They chose two running backs because they took notes as the 49ers ran all over them. Their division rival made it to the playoffs on the legs of running-back Adrian Peterson. Peterson is spectacular but his never ending success against 8-9 men boxes is a testament to how bad run defense has gotten.
I could go on forever but this is a quick thoughts post. It may be a passing league but the ground game is alive and well in the NFL.