September 17, 2009

Blache To Blame For Poor Defense?

Following an uninspiring performance from last year's number four defense in a 23-17 loss to the New York Giants, it's time for Greg Blache to take a long, hard look at his scheme.

Soft coverage on third downs kept the defense on the field while the blitz schemes were anything but imaginative. Missed tackles plagued the defense along with an average performance in the trenches.

Say what you will about the offense being at fault for the large gap in time of possession, but it was the defense that failed to force a punt in the first half. It was also the defense that allowed the Giants to convert 46% of their third down opportunities.

This defense, so highly touted coming into the season, looked downright ordinary. But why? With all the star power it's hard to come up with excuses.

My first stone cast at Deangelo Hall. He signed a big deal in the offseason, and played well below his potential. He gave up numerous big plays in key situations against receivers who lined up both out wide and in the slot. His interception came solely from a smart play by Laron Landry who tipped the ball after Hall was beaten over the middle.

Speaking of Landry, he didn't play well either. Landry leaves his feet far too much going for the big hit and was step behind in coverage. Poor tackling technique from the whole secondary led to missed tackles throughout the game.

However, the biggest problem is the playcalling. Blache didn't make the most of his talent, and that must change quickly.

The 'Skins have never been an aggressive defense, but this year they are equipped to be. Instead, Blache employed a lot of soft zone coverage, which Eli Manning picked apart.

Hall is certainly a weak link in either zone or man. He is fine against the deep ball, but doesn't give much of an effort on short and intermediate routes. The 'Skins would be better suited to
playing a press man coverage as it would allow Landry to play more aggressively. Playing so far back limits his playmaking skills and doesn't allow him to freelance.

Another issue is thst Blache's blitz schemes consist of sending extra bodies simply for the sake of it. There's no rhyme or d reason to his blitz packages; they aren't staggered or mixed. Two or three extra defenders simply run right into the interior of the line.

That's it. No attempt to find the gaps or establish an edge rush; just an occasional dash into the center of the line. That's to straightforward for an experienced offensive line like the Giants.
Blache needs to rethink his defense. He needs to blitz more and locate weaknesses along opposing lines. He only blitzes in the most predictable situations and his defenders aren't adept at timing their rush.

Blache is a straight shooter with little creativity. That's a bad mix with the abilities of this defense. There's too much talent to play bend-but-don't-break. This defense is capable of creating turnovers and sacks at will under the right direction. However, the front four was once again ineffective in getting to Manning as he had plenty of time to throw.

Granted poor coverage by Hall certainly didn't help the defensive line's cause, but there was still little penetration. Credit is due to strong play from the Giants line and yet Washington's defense is better than their performance. They just need to the right guidance.

The Titans defensive line played well without Albert Haynesworth last week. Their scheme just works. The linemen are aware of which gaps to shoot and they play with passion. They find the weaknesses and expose them. We didn't see that from the Redskins defensive line. In my book, that’s poor coaching.

Against the run, the Redskins did not disappoint. They allowed only 3.3 yards per carry against one of the better rushing offenses in the NFL. However, they failed to consistently penetrate into the backfield the way Tennessee and other top defensive teams do.

Blache's defense is better than this; much better. It was an underwhelming performance overall, and that must be fixed if the 'Skins wish to compete against contenders. The effort was poor and if Blache wants to stick around, he'll be working plenty of overtime in the coming weeks.

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