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Redskins-Dolphins film review: Offense

Redskins running back Ryan Torain eluded Dolphins defensive end on this play, but Torain managed just 20 yards on 11 carries in the 20-9 loss. (Associated Press)Redskins running back Ryan Torain eluded Dolphins defensive end on this play, but Torain managed just 20 yards on 11 carries in the 20-9 loss. (Associated Press)
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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 20-9 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

GAME BALLS

No one on offense receives a game ball for the second time in three games. WR Leonard Hankerson and QB Rex Grossman gave the offense a chance, but each had a role in interceptions that helped keep the game just beyond the Redskins' reach. If players don't start executing their responsibilities better, the Redskins might not win another game.

GASSERS

TE FRED DAVIS: Davis' mediocre run blocking has been exposed with TE Chris Cooley out. He is not nearly as reliable capturing the edge. You can't take him off the field because he has special abilities in the passing game, but his inconsistency run blocking was a liability against the Dolphins.

Sometimes he doesn't finish blocks. On RB Roy Helu's 3-yard run on a draw on the first play of the fourth quarter, the Redskins actually had it blocked fairly well — a rarity in this game. RG Chris Chester and C Will Montgomery got to the second level, and LG Maurice Hurt rode the stunting right defensive end to the inside. LB Karlos Dansby rushed upfield from the right edge of the defense, and Davis turned his shoulders and initially rode him past the play. But Dansby quickly changed direction. He was able to recover and make the tackle because Davis didn't finish riding him through and sealing him out.

On the game's second play from scrimmage, LB Koa Misi pushed him two yards back before shedding his block to stop RB Ryan Torain for one yard. Davis began the play standing up as a receiver. Misi got his hands inside Davis' and into Davis' chest; he controlled him from there. On Torain's run for no gain the play before QB Rex Grossman's first interception, Misi got to Davis' play-side shoulder with a rip move and got down the line to make the tackle.

Davis also dropped a potential 29-yard completion in the second quarter despite getting both hands on the ball. Grossman underthrew Davis, who sneaked out the front side on a keeper and ran deep, but Davis said he should have held on despite LB Kevin Burnett's coverage.

Davis did have one nice run block that stood out. Helu gained 10 yards on a delay in the third quarter after Davis ran to the inside linebacker on the second level.

RT SEAN LOCKLEAR: We've seen the past few weeks why Seattle moved on from Locklear after last season. The Redskins' inability to run the ball extends way beyond him, but his technique breakdowns and apparent assignment mix-ups are a major factor.

Locklear didn't block the left defensive end on RB Ryan Torain's 1-yard gain on the first carry of the game. The Redskins' barely converted third-and-3 on an inside draw early in the fourth quarter because Locklear broke down. LB Karlos Dansby ran through him in pursuit of RB Roy Helu when Locklear didn't get his hands up to engage. Before that, Helu was almost stopped in the backfield on the play by DL Tony McDaniel after Locklear's punch failed to affect McDaniel.

Locklear was a bit better in pass protection than he has been in recent weeks, but he still appeared to miss an assignment that led to a sack. Dansby came unblocked and sacked Grossman on the third play of the game. Locklear fanned to his right to account for LB Cameron Wake, who ran with Helu in coverage instead of rushing the passer. Dansby, meanwhile, rushed free to Locklear's left.

RG CHRIS CHESTER: I don't feel all that good about singling out linemen for running game breakdowns because they're widespread and the entire unit's cohesion and timing has been disrupted by injuries. Still, this was not one of Chester's better games.

On RB Ryan Torain's 1-yard loss on the Redskins' second drive, LB Karlos Dansby filled the hole behind Chester, who didn't get off double-teaming DE Kendall Langford until it was too late. On a stretch play to the left that gained only one in the second quarter, Langford pushed Chester two yards behind the line of scrimmage into Torain's path.

Chester anchored fairly well in pass protection, but as one of Mike Shanahan's hand-picked acquisitions up front, he needs to be part of the solution for the running game's problems.

LG MAURICE HURT: Injuries obviously have forced Hurt into the lineup before he's ready. It's not his fault he's the Redskins' best option at left guard right now. He did, however, surrender a sack in the first quarter. He stood too tall in his set and lost all his power. DE Jared Odrick used an inside move to get to QB Rex Grossman in 2.5 seconds.

Dolphins DE Jason Taylor sacked Grossman in the fourth quarter by rushing past Hurt. When CB Will Allen showed blitz on the right edge of the defense, LT Trent Williams fanned outside to block him. That left Hurt to block Taylor, but Hurt didn't make the same adjustment Williams did. That's Hurt's inexperience showing.

With LG Kory Lichtensteiger out for the season, Hurt needs to improve over the final seven games. Again, it's not his fault that he's starting, and he is going to struggle at times, but he needs to get something out of this opportunity. Let's see whether the sacks and pressures start to decrease.

TE LOGAN PAULSEN: Paulsen is on this list for one play: His holding penalty in the first quarter negated a 1-yard touchdown run that would have given the Redskins their first lead in four games. Hand placement has been one of Paulsen's major points of emphasis since arriving in the NFL last season, and his was poor on that play. Dolphins S Yeremiah Bell got his right hand inside Paulsen's left hand and into Paulsen's chest. That left Paulsen with little recourse when Bell disengaged. Paulsen grabbed Bell's jersey, making it easy for the official.

It was somewhat reminiscent of RB Tim Hightower's 1-yard touchdown run around the left edge against the Giants in Week 1. The Giants wanted a holding call against Paulsen, who blocked LB Michael Boley on the second level. They didn't get it, but replays showed they had a case.

K GRAHAM GANO: Gano earned his share of game balls during the first half of the season because of his consistency kicking field goals, so he has to end up here for missing two. The wind (19 mph at kickoff) significantly affected all kicks toward the west end zone at Sun Life Stadium, but he has to help the point-starved offense — even if it's a monsoon.

OBSERVATIONS

• QB Rex Grossman played well, but his few mistakes were so costly they outweighed the positives. On his dagger of an interception at the 5-yard line with the Redskins driving to take the lead, he stared down WR Leonard Hankerson. ILB Karlos Dansby read where Grossman was going with the ball the whole way. I wonder, though, if WR Jabar Gaffney had continued his slant across Dansby's face whether Dansby would have gone with Gaffney enough to open a sufficient window for Grossman to get the ball to Hankerson. When Gaffney broke off his route, Dansby drifted into the ball's path.

Several of Grossman's throws sailed high. Hankerson's length covered some of those up, but it was a problem on several plays, including a third-down throw that WR David Anderson dropped in the first half. Grossman also underthrew TE Fred Davis on a deep ball in the second quarter. Davis sneaked out the front side on a play-action keeper, one of the best plays in Kyle Shanahan's playbook, but Grossman didn't get the throw out in front of him. Davis had to slide, and it allowed the linebacker time to catch up to Davis and get his hand in to break up the play.

Grossman also appeared to miss a fantastic touchdown opportunity early in the third quarter. When the Dolphins blitzed seven on third-and-goal from the 5, they left the middle of the field exposed. WRs Hankerson and Gaffney were open on slants underneath the inside receivers on their respective sides, and Grossman could have unloaded hot to either one for a score. Instead, he lobbed a fade to Davis on a corner route, and it was incomplete.

Overall, though, Grossman proved he gives the Redskins the best chance to win, as Mike Shanahan says. He was poised, and many of his throws were on time and in rhythm. He generally did well recognizing soft coverage and taking what the defense gave him.

WR Leonard Hankerson would have received a game ball if he hadn't slipped out of his break on a second-quarter pass that resulted in an interception. QB Rex Grossman's throw was on time and accurate, but Hankerson just lost his balance. He had a great game otherwise, but such mistakes are killing the Redskins right now. Staying balanced is part of quality route-running, and Hankerson's breakdown cost the Redskins a scoring opportunity.

Otherwise, Hankerson was a true bright spot. His ability to catch passes within a wide radius of his frame helped clean up some of Grossman's high throws. He ran a great route to get open on the 22-yard catch that preceded Grossman's second interception. He ran vertically to 12 yards, where he opened CB Will Allen's hips to the outside with a hard step with his left foot. That turned Allen around while he cut sharply across the field and separated. And he came back to the ball in the air.

That play showed why Hankerson ascended the depth chart in recent weeks. For an offense in desperate need of hope, it's a shame his progress will be delayed.

RB Roy Helu's quick feet give him an edge over Ryan Torain behind the Redskins' porous line. Helu got three yards out of almost nothing on third-and-3 in the fourth quarter because of his reflexes. He juked a defensive lineman in the backfield and then eluded two tacklers on the edge by cutting back inside. He turned a potential loss into a first down by himself.

It's always dangerous to say the running back missed a cutback lane when you don't know the play design or the running back's read, but I'm particularly interested to know if Torain could have done something differently on his 1-yard gain in the middle of the second quarter.

Miami's defensive line stemmed twice before the snap as TE Fred Davis went in motion. Whether that affected the Redskins, I'm not sure. The offensive line moved left off the ball, and there appeared to be room to run through the backside. RT Sean Locklear got to ILB Karlos Dansby, and Davis came against the grain to cut down DE Jason Taylor on the backside. However, I wonder if Torain didn't take it because he saw Kendall Langford work back to RG Chris Chester's right shoulder.

Who is to blame there is difficult to know for sure. What's obvious is that the Redskins can't run against anyone right now.

• The Redskins rushed 16 times for 61 yards, and 21 of those yards came on a meaningless final play of the game. 

Miami had only six or seven men in the box on 11 rushes; the Redskins averaged only 3.18 yards on those carries. That’s stunning. If defenses can stop your run with only seven in the box, you have no chance. And, well, the Redskins currently have no chance.

QB Rex Grossman dropped back to pass 35 times.

On the 17 dropbacks Miami rushed four or fewer defenders, he was 10-of-16 for 74 yards, 2 interceptions and a sack; a passer rating of 33.9.

On the 18 dropbacks Miami rushed five or more, he was 11-of-16 for 141 yards and 2 sacks; a passer rating of 96.1.

TE Logan Paulsen sold the fake well on his 16-yard reception. While the offense ran play action, he stayed in his stance for an extra count after the snap. The defense appeared to lose him long enough for him to get open for a first down.

• Maybe I'm missing something, but I can't remember the last time I saw a Redskins lineman throw a cut block on a stretch play. That's definitely worth following up on this week.

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