Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch present as dynamic of a duo for the Seattle Seahawks’ zone read running game as Robert Griffin III (when healthy) and Alfred Morris do for the Washington Redskins.
“We knew it was going to be a 60-minute fight,” inside linebacker London Fletcher said. “Their run game was the No. 1 thing we needed to stop with Lynch and Wilson.”
After the Redskins’ season-ending 24-14 loss in the NFC wild card round of the playoffs, it was clear that they didn’t. So what went wrong?
“Just missed assignments, guys out of their gaps, things like that,” outside linebacker Rob Jackson said. “You’ve got to be fundamentally sound to stop the zone read, and I don’t think we were that every single time.”
Not even close. Lynch so often had cutback lanes and plenty of room to run. So did Wilson when he held onto the ball.
Fletcher pointed out that the Redskins’ defense knew of the zone read from all the way back in the offseason at OTAs. But this group hasn’t practiced against it since training camp.
Prepping for it this week, Washington knew what to look for. Pete Carroll and Co. brought some surprises.
“They changed up some of their blocking schemes as far as what we had planned for them, as far as them blocking back on the end,” linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. “It exposed us a couple of times, so we had to make some adjustments there.”
Safety Reed Doughty had the best zone read pickup of the game, tackling Wilson in the fourth quarter for no gain.
“We knew how to fit it up; guys just didn’t play it the way we’re supposed to every single time,” Fletcher said. “When we did it, you saw Reed making plays, us making plays in the backfield, stuff like that.”
When players didn’t play it how they practiced, things got bad. It was a story of mistakes in “assignment football,” Doughty said.
“If one guy misses, then the next guy’s got to make it, and the next thing you know, it’s an 8-yard gain,” he said.
The defense at times contained Wilson, but he also had a 28-yard run, untouched and unchallenged for most of the way.
“Certain times. Just not enough. He had a big scramble run, he had a couple third-down scrambles where he dumps it off and they get 14 when they need 12,” Doughty said. “Those are the type of plays that he’s made all year and that we were trying to limit.”
Wilson ended up with eight carries for 67 yards. Lynch had 20 carries for 132 yards and a touchdown.
Obviously mission not accomplished on the Redskins’ No. 1 goal.
“The boot and the read option, the zone read – all that was effective,” Alexander said. “Anytime you really can’t settle in as a defense, an offense can have their way with you, and that’s what they were able to do.”