DE Stephen Bowen. He consistently made plays throughout the game, something few others on defense did. Bowen also had Cam Newton for a sack, until the QB flipped it just before his knee hit the ground. Bowen had another good rush, running through the left guard, but Newton again threw quick and a penalty again bailed him out. But it was a good rush. He played the run well on consecutive series in the third, shedding his blocks for two stops. Later, in the fourth, he occupied two blockers to allow Perry Riley to make a three-yard stop.
The Redskins also used Bowen as a stand-up rusher on two occasions. The first time he lined up at left end, got up and moved to a stand-up spot about two yards over left guard and rushed. Newton hurried the throw. (Can’t say the Redskins didn’t try some different things to get pressure. Probably did as much in this game as any other this season). Another time he started on the right side and moved over the right guard about two yards deep and rushed. Newton threw a hurried pass incomplete as the pressure worked (but London Fletcher’s penalty gave them 15 yards).
CB Josh Wilson. He was flagged twice for pass interference, though only one time was it legit. The first time clearly was not. Wilson bumped Steve Smith within five yards and before Cam Newton had thrown the ball. Just a bad call. The second time in the end zone? No escaping that one. Wilson face-guarded Smith. He also gave up a touchdown when he failed to not only turn around, but to get his hands up in time. It happened on a touchdown to Smith, too. Occasionally a corner will make a play by reading the hands and eyes of the receiver without turning back for the ball, if they can get their hands in the right spot. Wilson also was beaten by Smith on a route in which Cam Newton missed him. But the biggest play was the botched 82-yarder in which the Redskins were in a cover-3. DeAngelo Hall is on the same side, but he’s really acting as a strong safety with curl/flat responsibility (Cedric Griffin was the corner on the other side). Wilson ran with the outside receiver, who took him inside on a post. But Wilson was supposed to stay deep (by the way, I mistakenly thought after the game that he played it right, extrapolating from his postgame comments. Wrong. Call me a Dud too.). Anyway, it left Armanti Edwards wide open for a back-breaking play.
ILBs Perry Riley/London Fletcher. Both had their moments, but together they did not have the sort of game Washington needed. I don’t blame Riley for the DeAngelo Williams’ touchdown in which he pulled up. If he hears a whistle and then hits Williams, he’d be flagged. So Riley did what he should have done. On the second drive of the game for Carolina, the Panthers faced a third and 1 at their own 40. Newton fakes to Jonathan Stewart; linebacker Rob Jackson shoots at the running back. That leaves Riley to take on Newton, except that Riley started at Stewart as well and was then faked by the QB. Had Riley gone at Newton, it’s a stop and a punt. Instead, it’s a first down en route to a touchdown. On Newton’s 17-yard run, Riley failed to get over to the hole in time. In the fourth quarter, Fletcher kept gesturing for Riley to move over to the right. He did by about a half-step. But had Riley moved over a little more he could filled the hole much better, taking on a lead blocker in the gap. Fletcher was late getting over, too. It was only a five-yard gain, but still… As for Fletcher, he again had decent coverage on some pass routes, but still allowed completions. His 15-yard penalty on Newton was big, so instead of third and 4 at their own 48 it became a first and 10 at the Redskins’ 37. Big difference. Tight end Gary Barnidge caught a pass over Fletcher on the first play; he’s 6-foot-5 compared to Fletcher’s 5-foot-9. Fletcher had good coverage, but physics won out. Two plays later Greg Olsen caught a 13-yard pass on Fletcher. The veteran was OK for most of the game, but these plays stood out.
…DeAngelo Hall was solid all game in coverage and deserves mention. But what I didn’t like was the non-tackle attempt on the DeAngelo Williams 30-yard touchdown run. Yes, Hall was being held. However, he still must try to get off the block to make the tackle rather than try to sell the hold. Make the play, then worry about what is or isn’t being called. I also didn’t like how Hall tried to rip the ball free from Jonathan Stewart on a first quarter run rather than make the tackle. Hall did have a good tackle on special teams.
But Hall had good coverage on tight end Greg Olsen in the slot, breaking up a first-quarter pass. Another time on a deep ball to Steve Smith in the end zone. Smith ran a stutter-step and go, but Hall wasn’t fooled.
…Jordan Pugh isn’t providing enough help. He missed a couple tackles and allows too much separation on routes as he did twice vs. Olsen. The starting safeties, Reed Doughty and Madieu Williams, were solid and had no major missteps. Doughty led the team with 10 tackles.
…I liked how Jonathan Stewart picked up the blitz. Did so on the TD pass to Smith; saw it a few other times too. Good balance, head up and ready to attack. The Redskins do not have consistent pass protection from their backs.
…The Redskins definitely tried to get Ryan Kerrigan some different rushes Sunday, not just by alignment but through stunts. It actually helped on some rushes, even though he never got a sack. Kerrigan did get more push on a few rushes and his outside rushes weren’t bad. Most of his rushes seemed to be as much about containing Newton as getting home as Kerrigan would try to pinch inside at about seven yards depth.
In some ways I feel like I’m talking about a home run hitter who is now hitting singles because he really didn’t impact any of the passes. But there was improvement.
He obviously rushed most of the game as a standup left outside linebacker (getting a pressure on the first play when facing the tight end). But he rushed once on the right side. On another rush, from the left side, he rushed to the outside shoulder of the right guard with Perry Riley occupying the right tackle. It helped as Kerrigan applied decent pressure. He ran a stunt inside on the next rush (in which Bowen nearly had the sack) and got excellent depth.
Another time he lined up a yard and a half over the right guard and, again with Riley coming from the outside, ran a stunt inside with Kedric Golston. Kerrigan, who ended up against the center, pushed his man back and was a yard from Newton when he passed the ball.
…Kerrigan was double teamed on just three rushes, all in the second half. On one, the Panthers brought the left guard over to double him with the running back. It’s a misnomer to think he’s getting double teamed all the time. But moving him around definitely helps rather than have him go against a right tackle all the time.
…It’s clearly hard for the Redskins when facing a big quarterback such as Newton. At 6-foot-5, he’s able to stand in the pocket and see over the line. There were times when the pocket was collapsing, but Newton could stand in and still deliver. Just like Ben Roethlisberger the previous week. They’ll have an easier time if they can do the same to Philly’s line after the bye given Michael Vick’s size.
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