- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 2, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION

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

GAME BALLS

ILB LONDON FLETCHER:Fletcher was all over the field and gave everything he had to hold together a defense that had no margin for error. After being listed as questionable with a hamstring injury, all he did was make 20 tackles (12 solo), intercept a pass in the end zone, split a sack and hit QB Ryan Fitzpatrick twice. He forcefully took on blockers and shed several to make tackles.

A few plays stood out: On his interception in the end zone, he held his ground when WR Stevie Johnson cut in. Fletcher is entitled to his own vertical space, so it was a good no-call when Johnson ran into him more than 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Fletcher drove hard on the ball and saved the Redskins points by catching it. On the next series, he stopped a screen pass for only 2 yards after shedding RG Kraig Urbik.

Buffalo Bills' Fred Jackson (22) straight arms the facemask of Washington Redskins' LaRon Landry (30) during the first half of an NFL football game at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)
Buffalo Bills’ Fred Jackson (22) straight arms the facemask of Washington Redskins’ ... more >

Fletcher can’t have a monster game unless the linemen in front of him keep him clean, so players such as Adam Carriker and Kedric Golston deserve some credit for allowing Fletcher to make plays. But under the most frustrating circumstances, Fletcher showed the heart that has fueled his entire career. I don’t blame him for losing his cool on the sideline after SS LaRon Landry missed an assignment on the Bills‘ second touchdown. He expects others to play to the standard he sets, and rightfully so.

OLB RYAN KERRIGAN: Washington’s inept offense limited the potential impact of any defensive player, but Kerrigan had a solid game against the run. He stopped three runs for minimal gains by rushing unblocked, sharply turning the corner and pursuing laterally. He also had two tackles for loss by staying low and penetrating on the edge.

Kerrigan also helped force both of the Redskins‘ sacks. On the first one, he stayed low out of his two-point stance and bull rushed RT Erik Pears backwards. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick felt the pressure and stepped up into DE Kedric Golston. On the second, he took advantage of what appeared to be a blown protection. Pears blocked down on LDE Adam Carriker instead of blocking Kerrigan. RG Kraig Urbik kicked out to Kerrigan too late. Again, Fitzpatrick stepped up into pressure up the middle.

Kerrigan whiffed on a sack later in the fourth quarter after rushing unblocked. You could tell by his reaction on the field that he was salty about it.

DE KEDRIC GOLSTON:Golston is quietly having a solid season in a reserve role, and this was his best game of the year. As a full-time starter last season, he was pushed back too frequently. He’s anchoring much more effectively this year, though, in a reduced number of snaps. That’s a development worth pursuing this week.

Golston occupied two blockers on a first-down run in the second quarter, which allowed the linebackers to stop the play for a 3-yard gain. On a first down later in that series, he anchored against RG Kraig Urbik and shed him with a quick little swim move to stop RB Fred Jackson for 1 yard.

Later in the quarter, he hustled after an underneath wide receiver screen and made the tackle from behind. And he recorded a sack in the second half when QB Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped up to avoid OLBs Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan coming off the edges. Golston kept his feet moving and pushed former Redskin LG Chad Rinehart back enough to position himself to clean up the play.

P SAV ROCCA: Four of his six punts grossed at least 50 yards. The other two were downed at Buffalo’s 20- and 13-yard lines. He gave the defense a fighting chance.

GASSERS

SS LARON LANDRY:Landry admittedly blew his assignment on Buffalo’s second touchdown. On third-and-1 from the Redskins‘ 15-yard line, he read a run key that led him astray. That exposed ILB London Fletcher to TE Scott Chandler’s corner route, which was an easy pitch and catch. Props to Landry, though, for owning up to the error; and he’s justified in pointing out that he at least makes his mistakes at full speed. He plays hard and has the right attitude.

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