Redskins-49ers film review: Defense

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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 19-11 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

GAME BALLS

CB DEANGELO HALL: This might be a bit of a reach, but Hall’s strip of TE Vernon Davis in the fourth quarter highlighted a good-but-not-great performance by the Redskins‘ defense. Washington desperately needed the ball back trailing by two scores with 7 minutes remaining, and Hall got it for them by overpowering Davis and ripping the ball out of his hands. It was the type of play he hasn’t made enough of this season.

Hall was in on a team-high 12 tackles and appeared to execute his run fits well. He stopped RB Kendall Hunter for a 1-yard gain in the second quarter. He was unblocked on the left side of the defense a few yards off the line of scrimmage. When LOLB Ryan Kerrigan set the edge against Davis, Hall charged forward to make the stop.

Hall was far from perfect, though, just like the rest of the defense, which didn’t make enough plays to win. He surrendered some short, quick completions while playing off coverage. It’s tough to blame him for those, though, because he’s playing the coverage that’s called. On the first play of San Francisco’s second series, WR Michael Crabtree caught a pass near the right sideline and gained 21 yards after Hall was late getting wide because he was looking into the backfield. Later, Crabtree’s downfield block of Hall helped spring RB Frank Gore for 27 yards.

GASSERS

ILB ROCKY MCINTOSH:McIntosh had a key role in two important negative plays. FB Bruce Miller beat him for a 30-yard touchdown catch before halftime. When Miller ran out of the backfield, McIntosh ran too sharply to the left flat underneath WR Braylon Edwards instead of getting outside over top of him and gaining depth. McIntosh was caught too close to the line of scrimmage running in the wrong direction, and Miller easily sprinted past him. By the time Miller caught QB Alex Smith’s throw, he was five yards beyond a trailing McIntosh.

McIntosh also delivered a benign hit against Edwards on a big third-and-4 in the fourth quarter with the Redskins trailing 16-3 and more than 10 minutes remaining. Edwards beat CB Josh Wilson on a slant from the left. Smith found Edwards in a small window between Wilson and McIntosh. Not only did McIntosh fail close on Edwards in time to break up the pass, his hit barely even staggered Edwards, who ran for 17 yards after contact.

McIntosh also missed a tackle on a first-quarter reception by WR Michael Crabtree, who gained a first down after contact.

RDE STEPHEN BOWEN: Without being certain about Bowen’s run fits and responsibilities, I noted he was blocked one-on-one on six runs. Defensive linemen in the Redskins‘ front generally have to occupy blockers to keep the linebackers clean. That’s not happening enough, though – this was the fourth straight game that the Redskins gave up at least 4.2 yards per carry.

LG Mike Iupati and LT Joe Staley controlled him at times, allowing fellow offensive linemen to get to the Redskins‘ linebackers. RB Frank Gore gained nine yards on the last play of the first quarter when Staley got off the ball lower than Bowen, turned him inside and sealed the edge. Meanwhile, Iupati released to LB Rocky McIntosh.

It wasn’t all bad for Bowen. On OLB Ryan Kerrigan’s first-quarter sack, he pushed the pocket when Iupati was slow to recover from thinking McIntosh was going to blitz up the middle. Bowen drove Gore back and helped flush QB Alex Smith out of the pocket, where Kerrigan eventually ran him down.

FS REED DOUGHTY: I feel like I’m one of few Redskins observers who believe Doughty is under appreciated by most fans. His limitations in pass coverage seem to overshadow his quality in run support. He’s not a free safety, and he’s too frequently miscast there because the Redskins haven’t solved the hole that has existed at that position since late 2007, but he can stop the run.

However, Doughty didn’t help his case by missing an uncontested tackle of RB Frank Gore one yard behind the line of scrimmage on Gore’s 27-yard run in the second quarter. He usually is reliable in those situations.

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