- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 3, 2012

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 34-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

GAME BALLS

RB EVAN ROYSTER: The sixth-round rookie had his second 100-yard game in as many starts. He finished with 113 yards on 20 carries, plus five catches for 52 yards, despite painful body cramps. He and fellow rookie RB Roy Helu (injured left knee) deserve high marks for toughness.

Royster dodged tacklers with deft footwork. He’s good at subtly adjusting his course while keeping his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and continuing to get upfield. That fits his description as a “gliding” runner. His 28-yard run was an extreme example. His instincts took over, and he juked his way through three tackles and around another defender. He kept his shoulders squared for most of that run.

Redskins guard Chris Chester (66) was the most consistent offensive lineman in the season finale against the Eagles. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Redskins guard Chris Chester (66) was the most consistent offensive lineman in ... more >

Royster has a knack for finding the hole. To me, he does it better than Helu. However, he lacks the burst to consistently turn those open lanes into gains of 20 or more yards. On Washington’s second run of the game, for example, he took a pitch to the right and almost immediately cut back off of FB Darrel Young, who cut-blocked DE Jason Babin. LG Maurice Hurt got to LB Casey Matthews, and C Will Montgomery drove DT Trevor Laws out. LT Willie Smith cut down DL Cullen Jenkins on the back side, too, so the lane was there. But Royster didn’t accelerate, and that allowed Jenkins to get up off the ground and make the tackle for only a 4-yard gain.

Royster’s balance problems also continued. Ironically, he went down without being touched on his 28-yard run after breaking three tackles. “I just tried to accelerate a little too hard and got a little too much forward lean and just slipped,” he said after the game. It’s another reason why the Redskins consider him to be only a solid reserve.

FB DARREL YOUNG: With the Eagles‘ ends lined up wide and their linebackers deep, Young consistently executed successful lead blocks by identifying defenders and getting to them. The Redskins sometimes used him as an H-back to wham the 3-technique. He helped RB Evan Royster gain 6 yards on a second-quarter run by doing that.

Young also solidified his reputation as a pass-catching threat. When the Redskins faked an end-around in the first quarter, Young slipped behind the linebacker on a corner route and caught a 20-yard pass at the sideline. He’s got good hands, too. QB Rex Grossman‘s throw was out in front of him about thigh-high, and Young had no trouble pulling it in.

Young’s 12-yard run in the second quarter made him a triple threat. When DT Derek Landri penetrated off the snap, Young quickly changed direction to the right and got around the corner. It was an appropriate way for Young to finish a promising first season as the starter.

RG CHRIS CHESTER: Each lineman contributed to the Redskins‘ 5.2-yard average on 25 rushes, but Chester was the most consistent, seeing as how both tackles had loads of trouble in pass protection against the Eagles‘ fast ends.

Chester got to the second level on several first-half runs. Chester and RT Tyler Polumbus also executed a few successful combination blocks. When RB Evan Royster converted third-and-1 on the first series of the third quarter, Chester sealed DE Juqua Parker inside after Polumbus shoved him in and released to LB Brian Rolle. Chester’s block of LB Keenan Clayton in space sprung Royster’s 15-yard reception on a screen pass in the second quarter.

Chester isn’t an overpowering lineman, but in his debut season in Washington he proved he can play in coach Mike Shanahan’s system because he can run and carry out some of the nuances of combination blocks. He should benefit from experience in the scheme and some stability at right tackle, where the Redskins will look to upgrade in the offseason.

RB ROY HELU:Helu didn’t have a major impact on the game, but his 47-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown was impressive because he ran the last 20-or-so yards on one leg. He left knee was killing him all game. The Redskins put Helu in a bad spot last week by cutting RB Ryan Torain, which forced him to play when he obviously wasn’t close to full speed. Helu responded with the team’s only touchdown.

He was patient setting up his blocks on the screen. He drifted toward the sideline to help suck S Nate Allen into LG Maurice Hurt’s path. Helu during his rookie season proved he can be a contributor in the future, although the Redskins would love for him to be their No. 2. That depends on what they do to address the position in free agency.

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