- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 1, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION

A review of the best and worst performances by the Washington Redskins’ offense and some observations after re-watching the TV broadcast of their 23-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

GAME BALLS

[Cue sound effect: Crickets chirping in the dead of night]

GASSERS

HC MIKE SHANAHAN: The head coach and top personnel decision-maker ultimately is accountable for this stinker. It’s his roster and his offensive game plan. When individual players’ technique breaks down as frequently as it did Sunday, particularly on the offensive line, a team either needs better players or has to coach up the ones it has. Both of those responsibilities are Shanahan‘s.

We’ll learn a lot about Shanahan by how he and the team respond against San Francisco. Will he keep Will Montgomery at left guard or try another solution? Can he find ways to slow San Francisco’s pass rush, perhaps with more max protection and screen passes? Will he help John Beck by crafting a game plan centered on quick throws?

As the person in control of personnel decisions, it’s partly his fault that he doesn’t have top-end talent to work with. But other teams, including Buffalo on Sunday, are winning with backup offensive linemen in place. He has to find a way to get the most out of Washington’s talent, and that hasn’t happened the past two weeks.

LG WILL MONTGOMERY: It’s not Montgomery’s fault that he’s playing out of position. He was having a fine season at center through four games. Mike Shanahan, however, apparently had no better option than to move Montgomery to guard when Kory Lichtensteiger was lost for the season. I’d hate to see what his other options were, then.

Montgomery’s performance Sunday should, at the very least, force Shanahan to consider moving him back to center and going with either Erik Cook or rookie Maurice Hurt at left guard. I understand the desire to have a player with Montgomery’s experience in between two inexperienced players in Cook and LT Sean Locklear, but that hasn’t compensated for Montgomery’s ineffective blocking at left guard.

All nine sacks are detailed below, so I won’t go through them here, but Montgomery was deeply involved in the carnage. He tends to struggle against defensive linemen with long reach, and that problem is exacerbated when they have extra space in which to operate. Such is the case when Montgomery is at guard.

Montgomery also didn’t play with sufficient power, which belies the fact that he’s one of the strongest weight-lifters on the team. He tried to anchor against DL Kellen Heard on the last play of the third quarter and got pancaked.

If the Montgomery-Cook left guard-center combo is the Redskins‘ option, so be it. I’m just interested in witnessing the other possibilities after seeing this one fail so badly Sunday.

LT SEAN LOCKLEAR: Locklear was beaten to the outside on two sacks. There were a number of different holes in his game. Sometimes it was slow feet. Other times linemen got into him because his hands were low and he was slow to engage.

He wasn’t an asset in the running game, either. On one second-quarter run, RB Ryan Torain had to make his cut 5 yards in the backfield partly because LB Chris Kelsay had better leverage and drove Locklear back. The bulk of Locklear’s NFL experience is as a right tackle, so that explains some of his struggles. Mike Shanahan signed him because he believed Locklear was a capable swing tackle. Through two games, his performance indicates otherwise.

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