Redskins–Dolphins film review: Defense

Washington Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield (96) pressures Miami Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore during the first quarter of the Dolphins' 20-9 home win on Nov. 13, 2011. (Associated Press)Washington Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield (96) pressures Miami Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore during the first quarter of the Dolphins‘ 20-9 home win on Nov. 13, 2011. (Associated Press)
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A review of the best and worst performances by the Washington Redskins‘ defense and some observations after re-watching the TV broadcast of their 20-9 loss to the Miami Dolphins:


NT BARRY COFIELD: Cofield was a big reason why the Redskins surrendered only 3.1 yards per carry, their best mark since Week 4. He consistently anchored inside against C Mike Pouncey and even penetrated on a few runs. ILBs London Fletcher and Perry Riley came downhill against the run all game partly because Cofield gave them the space to do so.

Cofield created CB Kevin Barnes‘ interception by beating a double team and hitting QB Matt Moore’s right arm during the throw. He broke down Pouncey’s hands with a quick slap and rip and penetrated between the center and the right guard. He almost had an interception of his own in the second quarter when he diagnosed a screen pass to RB Reggie Bush and dove in front of it.

LOLB RYAN KERRIGAN: Kerrigan forced a fumble that gave Washington’s anemic offense the ball at Miami’s 24-yard line in the third quarter. For me, that’s enough to make up for 20 yards on two penalties and isolated negative plays allowed in coverage and in run defense.

Kerrigan in total had two sacks, forced two fumbles and in the process showed some explosiveness rushing off the edge. His first quarter sack resulted from an outside move around RT Marc Colombo. Kerrigan stayed low off the snap, ripped under Colombo’s outside shoulder and stayed low to sharply turn the corner. Kerrigan didn’t make that type of play when he first began practicing in July. He obviously has gotten more comfortable maintaining leverage and proper angles when rushing the passer from a two-point stance.

Credit him for being aware of the importance of hacking down on the ball when finishing a sack. Twice he stripped the ball from QB Matt Moore by swiping down. Compare that to OLB Brian Orakpo, who failed to get the ball free from Carolina QB Cam Newton on a free shot in Week 7. Orakpo says he is more concerned with tackling the quarterback than stripping him.

Kerrigan stayed fairly tight in coverage on a deep incompletion to TE Anthony Fasano down the middle on third-and-13 in the second quarter. He lined up over Fasano and forced him to take an outside release. Moore’s throw, then, was too far in front of Fasano.

Kerrigan was OK, not great, in run defense. Fasano locked onto him and blocked him one-on-one on RB Reggie Bush’s second touchdown run. The entire left side of the Redskins‘ line failed on that play, allowing three blockers to get to the second level.


ROLB BRIAN ORAKPO: Pro Bowlers can’t be as quiet as Orakpo was. Dolphins LT Jake Long controlled him all game. Long has great feet for his enormous size (6-7, 317). He limited Orakpo’s speed rush and never was overpowered by the bull rush.

Another reason for Orakpo’s minimal impact: He dropped in pass coverage on almost half of the dropbacks (14 of 30) for which he was in the game. Compare that to OLB Ryan Kerrigan playing coverage on only a quarter of Miami’s dropbacks (8 of 32).

One play stands out that’s worth following up on this week. Keep on reading because I want to classify it with the third-down defense review.


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