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Redskins-Texans matchups: Arian Foster vs. Redskins defense

A key for the Redskins defense will be to stop the run. The question is, how will it do that?

Arian Foster ran into the Texans franchise record book against Indianapolis Sunday, recording 231 yards rushing; 191 of them came in the second half. The Redskins defense held the Cowboys' Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice under 100 yards rushing combined. For whatever reason, the Cowboys abandoned the run early in the game even though they seemed to be having success. So it's possible that the Redskins defense may have escaped a game without being exposed for having a front that is susceptible to the run.

I believe Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett understands that teams are having success running against his defense inside. To change this, the nose tackle is going to have to be more effective pushing the center into the backfield.

If you watch the game closely you will see guys like Albert Haynesworth leap into the gaps trying to get up field. That is incorrect in this defense. If the nose tackle jumps out of the way of the center, he has just made the center's as well as the guard's job easier. Why is that? It's because by doing that the nose tackle doesn't give the linebackers enough time to read the play and react. With the integrity of the defense altered, the linebackers are forced to have to read run and fill holes much more quickly.

The 3-4 defense, in my opinion, has success against the run by pushing offensive linemen back and creating traffic jams, allowing the linebackers and safeties the time to get to the ball carrier. If the defensive line is unsuccessful at doing this, the linebackers will have to take on blockers. This gives the running back space to navigate through the defense. It's one reason why Redskins safety LaRon Landry had to make so many tackles against the Cowboys.

Successful 3-4 defenses suffocate the whole offensive front, creating chaos for running backs. The Redskins must do this against the Texans.

I give the edge to the Redskins defense. I believe this unit is clear on what needs to be done to improve. Despite the threat posed by Foster, Houston doesn't have the best offensive line the Redskins will face. It should allow Washington to improve in this phase of the game.

By LaVar Arrington  |  September 14, 2010; 1:22 PM ET
 
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Comments

Opposing teams were able to run very successfully against the Skins D throughout the entire preseason. That didn't change for the Dallas game. I don't know why the Cowboys stopped running the ball but I'm glad they did. I'm going to be worried about this every week until they can get it figured out. The Skins have been very good at stopping the run for a long time up until this year and they've had to rely on the defense to win games because of a low scoring offense. So far this hasn't changed.

Posted by: jtrip132211 | September 14, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Lavar,

Nice post. Would you mind researching what was happening with the o-line during the cowboys game. It looks like we were platooning the left guard and right tackle position. This would be an uncommon offensive wrinkle if it were true. Please pass on any insights you might have.

Thanks!

Posted by: benwork | September 14, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

"If you watch the game closely you will see guys like Albert Haynesworth leap into the gaps trying to get up field. That is incorrect in this defense. If the nose tackle jumps out of the way of the center, he has just made the center's as well as the guard's job easier.

Good observation. I noticed this as well.

Posted by: jtrip132211 | September 14, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Nice article. AH needs to stay home and clog the middle. I don't feel the Texans run game will be that effective this Sunday. However their passing attack is still potent. I feel that our offense may have an easier time passing than rushing against the Texans this Sunday because they'll be protecting their right side against the run because their starting DE is out. I look for the game to be close and the Redskins to win by 4.

Posted by: classicskins | September 14, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

You're correct about what the nose tackle needs to do, but why is Haynesworth the only one mentioned when he took just 16 snaps the entire game? Where's the calling out of Ma'ake Kemoetau who played more snaps than Haynesworth?

That is really unfair and unprofessional of you to do that.

Posted by: CapsNut | September 14, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Good to get some X's and O's. Thanks, Lavar.

Posted by: justsayin | September 14, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

If Lavar was writing these articles years ago he would be where JLC is now

Posted by: Black706 | September 14, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Lavar,

Great job on your articles. I am a huge fan. I always have been a fan of you, and i greatly appreciate the time you put into this column. That said. I think the defenses biggest problem is they try too many wierd angles. I haynesworth wants to shoot the a gap , then why not have rochy and fletcher shoot the middle gaps ( a and b as well.) the center cant block both gaps. It just seems like the defense rushes from the outside too much, and doesnt use enoughg middle run bliztes to chase running backs outside into the arms of orakpo and landry or doughty and carter

Posted by: 3mikeb | September 14, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Speaking to another point you bring up LA, this is the exact reason our run game could not get going! Our freakin center was getting pushed back off the ball into the backfield almost EVERY play! Ratliff was whupping his you know what! Him getting pushed back, throws the whole blocking scheme and running lanes off. It's sickening to watch! Why doesn't anyone see that Rabach is not the answer there and hasn't been since Gibbs brought him in! phuey!!!!

Posted by: LaLa12 | September 14, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

many including myself for a few years have stated that rabach is a miserable fraud of a center he is old, slow and weak. I dont care if he knows the o-line changes let mcnabb make the line calls and get rabach out of there then maybe this team can start running the football. The only reason rabach is on the team is because he is so-called white if any one says not PROVE IT". Let bryant the other nose tackle play more at NT keomoeatu is not up to speed yet probably because of the injury from last season. If haynesworth does not do his job correctly put him on the inactive list until he does and it starts at practice.

Posted by: wathu19 | September 14, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I worry Orakpo and Carter are miscast as LBs. Personnel for a 4-3 doing a 3-4.

Posted by: rsmskc | September 14, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

As a Redskins fan living in Houston, I gotta tell you you're waaaay off base if you think stopping Foster will wrap things up. The Redskins won't see a better QB than Matt Schaub this year or a better receiver than Andre Johnson. Focus on the run and Schaub will commit touchdown passes with play-action.

If the Redskins don't show up armed for bear, the Texans are going to beat the snot out of them. This team is MUCH better coached than Dallas - the play-calling won't be so chock full of gifts this week.

Posted by: kemp13 | September 14, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Schaub is better than Peyton Manning???

Posted by: CapsNut | September 14, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

this is going to be a scary and probably upsetting day because i got texans in the playoff this year and with their offense power they should over match the skins who can score enough to win this. I like to remind other skins fan when this aint the 1st time a coach has beaten Dallas first match up Gibbs 2.0 and Zorn have done it to. We can look at the good say we won a game without skins beating themselves for once but this schedule this year is a toughy.

Posted by: cjdwolfpack | September 14, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Very insightful piece. I do not disagree with any of the aforementioned points, but would simply like to add that due to the personnel and defensive changes, it's going to take a few games for this year's defense to gell(if not the entire season). I think the guys will play decently, but frankly, we all understand that this is a transition year for the team.

I expect The Skins will struggle against the top notch offenses, since our starters are building their comfort level with the new scheme on the fly. I hold out hope that the finished product will be worth the growing pains.

Posted by: md_incognito | September 14, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

++++"The only reason rabach is on the team is because he is so-called white if any one says not PROVE IT" ++++


I would think that the burden of proof is for the accuser, dipsh't. Go eat a d'ck.

Posted by: hand_of_doom | September 15, 2010 12:54 AM | Report abuse

I've wondered why NT don't line up in a manner that allows them to push the OL guys sideways, making it hard to keep a hole open.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | September 15, 2010 1:55 AM | Report abuse

That's an excellent observation Lavar. That's probably why they were running Vonnie Holiday at NT for most of the game to see if he could do some damage against the C/G.

I've been saying all along that this is the weakest run defense ran out of the 3-4. For the same reasons you pointed out.

Good read.

Posted by: urbanaslamma | September 15, 2010 6:52 AM | Report abuse

Best analyses/comment I've ever heard from Lavar.

Posted by: shanks1 | September 15, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

LA did pick the Cowgirls to beat us.......
Now, our defense was getting run over a lot when guys were standing upright at the line as well as blown gap assignments with the outside lb's as well as some guys on the line. I think AH is playing the way he is becuase of the grudge that's being held against him. Play to his strengths, if he's that bad with gap control then play him in the nickel and dime only. I also didn't like the nickel and dime alignments. It was always three guys at the line with one other moving around. I would like to see the basic 4-man front with Orakpo, Golston/Daniels/Carriker/or anyone, Haynesworth and Carter with hands down at the line. I think those guys would bring plenty of pressure while allowing the other 7 guys to do whatever. Raybach was clearly getting blown up regularly and it's impossible to miss that. We need a receiver (Vincent Jackson) to make defenses play honest or we will never be able to run or pass. Our rb's have no explosiveness. AC is doing an admirable job but we really need a starting caliber outside lb opposite Rak. Carlos Rodger OMG!!!!! Catch the friggin ball. Besides that the secondary has been great but we need Moore to get back out there. He should do catching drills while the team is practicing from now on.

PS. LA, I know you have something to say about this play by Adrian Moten http://voices.washingtonpost.com/terrapins-insider/2010/09/poll_which_play_was_more_memor.html
YWHlover2@ gmail.com

Posted by: MaxnDC | September 15, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

This post marks the arrival of Lavar the blogger...move over Cindy, Dan, Reid. This is what we were craving for. These are the insights only Lavar can provide. Yes he not a trained journalist. So what? He is fast learning the tricks of the trade. Way to go Lavar.

Posted by: KarK | September 15, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

"I've wondered why NT don't line up in a manner that allows them to push the OL guys sideways, making it hard to keep a hole open."

I've played DL before. If you don't line up to engage either the o-lineman or the hole straight in front of you, the o-lineman can hit you from the side where you're largely defenceless. Moreover, you often don't want to broadcast what gap you are intending to hit, or don't know it until your linebackers call out the strength side.

Posted by: j762 | September 15, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

"To change this, the nose tackle is going to have to be more effective pushing the center into the backfield."

If that's the case then Houston should have even greater success against the skins offensive. Rabach was in the backfield so much I thought he was a fullback on one play.

Did you see him get man-handled by the Cowboys Ratliff was it? His ineffectiveness will surely hamper the running game this year. Hope this is his last with the team.

Posted by: keedrow | September 15, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Blah-blah-blah, talk is cheap, PICK A SCORE!

Posted by: burro2 | September 15, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

HOUSTON 31
WASHINGTON 17

Posted by: keedrow | September 15, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Great Topic Lavar,

I also agree that Jim Haslet realizes that his defense is susceptible to the run however I do not necessarily think this is something that can be fixed this year. After 4 preseason games and the opener, teams have proved that running the ball on the Redskins is not going to be a problem. Teams averaged 4.7 yards a carry in the preseason and Dallas averaged also averaged 4.7 yards per carry on opening day. I will like to personally thank Dallas for our victory. WHY DID THEY STOP RUNNING? As you stated our defensive line is losing the battle at the line of scrimmage. Ma’ake Kemoeatu is not going to get substantially stronger during the season and Albert does not seem to want to play the Nose possession the way it needs to be played. That been said an upgrade at the Nose which is the most important position on a 3-4 line is not going to happen until the 2011 season unless there is someone else on the roster that is capably of been effective at the Nose that the average fun is not aware of.

Posted by: Pdmcdon_2 | September 15, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Great Topic Lavar,

I also agree that Jim Haslet realizes that his defense is susceptible to the run however I do not necessarily think this is something that can be fixed this year. After 4 preseason games and the opener, teams have proved that running the ball on the Redskins is not going to be a problem. Teams averaged 4.7 yards a carry in the preseason and Dallas averaged also averaged 4.7 yards per carry on opening day. I will like to personally thank Dallas for our victory. WHY DID THEY STOP RUNNING? As you stated our defensive line is losing the battle at the line of scrimmage. Ma’ake Kemoeatu is not going to get substantially stronger during the season and Albert does not seem to want to play the Nose possession the way it needs to be played. That been said an upgrade at the Nose which is the most important position on a 3-4 line is not going to happen until the 2011 season unless there is someone else on the roster that is capably of been effective at the Nose that the average fun is not aware of.

Posted by: Pdmcdon_2 | September 15, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

hey satanist the proof you need(you don't have the truth is your entire being anyway)that rabach is on the team only because he is so-called white is because of of non-playing ability he can't play he is too weak and slow like yourself..too bad you have a penis inferiority complex azz breath.

Posted by: wathu19 | September 15, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Bryant has looked relatively good at NT all along. I was shocked he was inactive for this game, as I fully expected him to be the starter, in spite of the depth chart. Kemo looks like he needs to be inactive for a while, as he consistently gets pushed around by guys 40-80lbs less. Haynesworth actually collapsed the line on a couple plays, but he just couldn't resist the holes on the others. I say give Bryant a start and if he can't get it done, put daniels in there. He might be smallish, but he can push and he knows his job.

Posted by: zickzack | September 15, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

this foster guy has one,i repeat ,one,good game against a suspect colt defense,and you all want to annoint this guy the second coming of walter peyton,barry saunders,and jim brown.relax people,the skins will fare just fine come sunday.the pass defense and pass rush needs to step up a little bit,and this will happen.i'm picking the skins in a route!

Posted by: billydee123 | September 15, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

actually Foster had 3 great games to wrap up last season and has continued his success into this season.

Posted by: Hailstorm2 | September 16, 2010 1:14 AM | Report abuse

In watching a replay of that game, the true star of the game was the Texans FB, Vonta Leach. Foster's big runs came out of I formation, w/ Leach lead blocking, opening up running lanes. Rocky and Fletch have their work cut out for them, but whoever wins that matchup will tell what Foster does Sunday...

Posted by: bernard_thompson | September 16, 2010 6:53 AM | Report abuse

LA, Even with all those points its clear to me the Skins offense really needs to step up and put some points on the board. Even at times if you stop Foster they still have Andre Johnson at WR and if we don't get the pressure he will make plays down the field.

Posted by: kevioconnor | September 16, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

LaVar is 100% RIGHT. Dallas DLine did exactly as expected. They pushed Rabach backwards, thus clogging the middle. The Redskins running gmae was pretty much ineffective. But conversely, #96 and #92 on the Redskins did not get an effective straight line push, setting up for exactly what LaVar said. Rocky And London each had 10 tackles or more, somehwat indicative of a running game up the middle. Didn't hear much of Andre or OSackpo on tackles, although Orakpo was creating havoc against the tackles on passing downs.

Posted by: wagenstill | September 16, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

The strength of the Redskins defense, and the entire team, over the last 5 years has been its ability to stop the run.

I've seen them make the likes of L. Tomlinson, and Shaun Alexander who were touted as the best backs in the league at the time, look mediocre.

Why are the Redskins moving away from this? Let's hope that nickel package will work on every down.

Does anyobody else miss Gregg Williams?

Posted by: jboogie1 | September 16, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Its hard to take LaVar seriously on this subject as he rarely ever played within the defensive scheme. The Skins lost games because of his selfishness.

Posted by: hughesbob19 | September 16, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Haynesworth's strength is in his legs. Normally, nose guards are usually under 6'1", but can bench press like a mutha...
W/ that said, Haynesworth's game is getting push upfield using lower base power; nose guards usually punch the center and guards, using bench press for seperation and then scrape and make tackles/clog holes. Haynesworth will need time to adjust his game to playing like a true nose...

Posted by: bernard_thompson | September 16, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Haynesworth's job in nickel packages is to get up into the backfield, because most of the pass rush in nickel is generated by the d line and a blitzer.

Posted by: Weave160 | September 16, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

The Redskins can easily fix their stopping the run problem by going back to the 4-3...we can still try to create turnovers with this scheme...please dont try to say we can't..the last regime did not preach it the way they are now preaching and teaching it...it not the scheme the create turnovers it the player trying to make it happen.

Posted by: jcnjcnj | September 16, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I give the edge to Foster--all day long. Unless you don't run around blocks. THis is the best stretch team we will face all year except for Packers before Grant went down.

Posted by: ElYeah | September 16, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Where the heck did all the stupid Texans come from???
Oh now I understand, they were all Cowboy fans last week and now they root for the other losers in Texass!

HTTR!
Back to Back WINS over texass!

Posted by: TKing1 | September 16, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse

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