- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 14, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

My observations, analysis and conclusions about the Redskins’ defense after rewatching the TV broadcast of Washington’s 16-7 preseason victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers:

The first-string front three of RDE Stephen Bowen, NT Barry Cofield and LDE Adam Carriker are a clear upgrade from last year’s group that included NT Ma'ake Kemoeatu and RDE Kedric Golston. The new trio should be better, of course, given the money the Redskins spent to bring in Cofield and Bowen, but that’s the most important point to take away from Friday’s game.

Cofield settled in after getting pushed back by a double team on the first play of the game, a run for 4 yards. Not only did he anchor OK, but he showed a couple of pass rushing moves — a swim move and a spin move — that Kemoeatu simply didn’t have in his repertoire. He helped push the pocket on the Steelers‘ second pass of the game, and QB Ben Roethlisberger checked down to the flat for only a 3-yard gain. Cofield also shed his blocker and helped LOLB Ryan Kerrigan stop the ball carrier for a loss on third-and-1 against Pittsburgh’s second string.


And for those of you wondering where Cofield’s Taser Dance was on Friday, don’t worry, you didn’t miss it. “I’m saving that for the regular season,” he said afterward. “It’ll be there, I promise.”

Bowen’s highlight was third-down sack of QB Byron Leftwich. That the Steelers, ahem, didn’t block him made his job just a tad easier. The center and running back both slid towards blitzing CB Kevin Barnes, which allowed Bowen to come free. Bowen stayed on the field in sub packages and slid inside, while Cofield came out of the game.

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Things were far from perfect up front, though. Take Pittsburgh RB Isaac Redman’s 22-yard touchdown run. LDE Adam Carriker initially was double-teamed, but he failed to sustain his block against C Doug Legursky, who released to the second level and blocked ILB Rocky McIntosh out of the play. Defensive linemen in this scheme have to occupy multiple blockers on running plays and allow the linebackers to flow to the ball. On the touchdown, it didn’t happen.

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While we’re on the subject of the line, second-round rookie DE Jarvis Jenkins flashed potential but also had his rookie moments. Coaches have harped on Jenkins‘ technique and leverage, and we saw both good and bad on consecutive plays during Pittsburgh’s second drive.

Second-and-6 from the Steelers‘ 24: Jenkins‘ first mistake was being slow off the snap. And when he finally went to engage RT Willie Colon, he practically stood straight up. Colon easily got underneath Jenkins‘ pads and pushed him back. Because Jenkins allowed himself to be blocked one-on-one, the tight end on that side released through and blocked ILB London Fletcher. Again, linemen have to keep the linebackers clean, and Jenkins broke down.

However, he was much better on the next play. He anchored at the point of attack, allowing OLB Brian Orakpo time to get around the right edge and chase RB Isaac Redman down from behind. The result: no gain.

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Back to the Steelers‘ only touchdown. Adam Carriker’s breakdown wasn’t the only one. The most glaring was S Chris Horton’s missed tackle near the line of scrimmage. If a defender gets both arms around the ball carrier’s legs, he has to make the stop. Period. Another problem, though was that LOLB Ryan Kerrigan was blocked inside by RT Kyle Jolly. Basically, the Steelers‘ third-string tackle pushed the Redskins’ first-round pick from the left edge of the defense so far inside that RB Isaac Redman actually ran around Kerrigan to the right. That was a bad play all around.

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