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Bye-Week Adjustments

This should be an interesting week in terms of how much the Redskins and Cowboys tweak their plans. Dallas and Washington obviously know each other well, but are coming off a bye week. Both hope/expect to have a fair amount of talent healthy and back on the field, and both know that a loss could have massive playoff ramifications. The loser might not make it; the winner, especially if it's the Skins, is sitting in good shape.

There are seven teams in the NFL at 6-3 - a quarter of the league (with Arizona joining the group should it defeat hapless San Fran tonight - and seven other clubs have five wins (excluding the Cards, who we will lump in with seven-win teams).

That's half the league, folks. Only three teams in the league have more than six wins - Carolina, the Giants and Tennessee. With the NFC East teams beating one another up, you have to think the NFC South is going to send at least one wild card team (Carolina is 7-2, while Tampa and Atlanta are 6-3; the Falcons' schedule sets up well, and Tampa's isn't that difficult on paper, either).

The Eagles will still have a say in this thing, and if Dallas loses Sunday night at FedEx, then the Cowboys might implode (they have to have ample potential for total collapse). The Skins' remaining NFC East games will be huge (not breaking any major news in that regard), and I just have a feeling Jason Garrett is going to pull out all the stops Sunday night.

He's seemed more conservative to me this season, even before Tony Romo got hurt, and now with Roy Williams (the wide receiver) more fully vested in the system, and Romo back and Felix Jones maybe back and Jason Witten maybe able to cope with that rib injury a bit more, and with Marion Barber not doing much against the Skins' defense in recent years (more on that later this week) ... I could see this being a game in which Garrett takes more deep shots and slings it around.

On the Skins side of things, I would have to imagine that Jim Zorn and the Z-Man Posse have reworked the red zone offense - an area of concern - and maybe the short-yardage running game as well. The coaches did a lot of self-scouting during the bye week and I know Zorn is not satisfied with the number of points they have scored lately. This is the make-or-break week for rookie WR Malcolm Kelly, too, in terms of whether he gets placed on injured reserve and starts focusing on 2009.

The Skins will have to figure out how and when DeAngelo Hall fits into their defense, with Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot getting healthier (I have a hunch this guy ends up playing quite a bit, maybe even starting on the outside). They also have to figure out what if anything they will get out of Jason Taylor for the Dallas game, and how to generate more of a pass rush (or how to become more productive when they blitz).

Do you guys have a sense of how many new wrinkles we might see? I think, specifically on offense, it could be substantial. Zorn and Garrett are forward-thinking dudes.

By Jason La Canfora  |  November 10, 2008; 11:27 AM ET
 
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Next: Hall: 'This Is the Place for Me' (Updated)

Comments

i love thaT the coaching staff took the bye week for self assessment and reflection.

Thinkers rule
gut instinct "my way" types drool

Posted by: chrislarry | November 10, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Yes, the last time I was at the Zoo, I saw a Panda reading a jasno column, and then updating RI on how the beat writer should be fired. Posted by: JohnDinHouston | November 10, 2008 10:57 AM

Post of the day, JohnD, post of the day!
Posted by: Cindy Boren | November 10, 2008 10:59 AM

sorry cindy, but if you were talking about that john's comment then your declaration of it being the "comment of the day" was at the very least telling of wapo's position on skins coverage. you being jasno's colleague/boss(?) and all. jasno doesn't deserve the jm220 and barno treatment but he deserves most of the criticism up here. and his latest work was, shall we say in-line with what he's been doing the whole season "focus on the negative".

i guess you're using jasno as the sarah palin of your campaign against danny.

Posted by: dealer1 | November 10, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

My fervent hope is that Zorny has spent the week coming up with a set of new things he wants to do -- not new plays as much as new tendencies -- and have the CowPies playing last week's Redskins instead of this week's team.

Posted by: daggar | November 10, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Got to take shots down the field, especially if Moss is feeling better. Newman has got to be a bit rusty at this point.

Posted by: ga8085 | November 10, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

This season will be the Cowpokes' FIRST miss of the playoffs in at least three seasons, no?

Posted by: RambleOn | November 10, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

+++He's seemed more conservative to me this season, even before Tony Romo got hurt, and now with Roy Williams (the wide receiver) more fully vested in the system, and Romo back and Felix Jones maybe back and Jason Witten maybe able to cope with that rib injury a bit more,++++JASNO

If it wasnt' for bad luck, the 'skin would have no luck at all. Willie Parker & Santonio Holmes return and help beat the 'skins and for the next game, the skins get a healthy Romo, Felix Jones, Witten and Roy Williams learning the system.

Springs BETTER be back and healthy and making TO's life miserable while Roges covers Williams. If I thought Hall was any good I might have him cover Witten (he's a WR in a TE body).

Let's hope for good luck with Romo & Co. being as rusty as the Pittsburgh crew weren't.

Betcha Seatlle has all 35 of it's injured receives bacfk in time for the Redskins, too.

Posted by: TheCork | November 10, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

+++The Skins will have to figure out how and when DeAngelo Hall fits into their defense, with Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot getting healthier (I have a hunch this guy ends up playing quite a bit, maybe even starting on the outside).++++---JASNO

Which guy? Shirley, you don’t’ mean putting Hall on TO or Wlliams? And if you do, I DO mean to call you Shirley.

Posted by: TheCork | November 10, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

If only we hadn't released Leigh Torrence!!!

Posted by: Lacantwrite | November 10, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

thinkers who think "kick the XP" instead of "go for two" when down by one with :23 left rule.
Herm drulz.

Posted by: daggar | November 10, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Not sure what you are trying to say here dealer1. Not once have I attack JLC as a person. But believe what you want.

JM220

Posted by: icetotalpackage | November 10, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Adjustments? Here are some:
1. Devin Thomas/Deangelo Hall should get a chance to return punts.
2. The Skins need to give up the "smoke" wide receiver screen to Santana Moss. Everyboody knows it's coming.
3. Moss should run his routes from the flanker/slot position out of short motion to make the guy defending him chase him.
4. Attack the end zone once the offense gets within field goal range. Passes to Cooley down the center of the field, passes to Randle El cutting underneath would pull safties deep.
5. The toss sweep--with Randy Thomas pulling and Sellers leading--to the underside of defensive pressure must be a staple running play. Make the blitzers cross the field to catch Portis.
6. Let Rock Cartwright relieve Portis. Shaun Alexander is just not 'attacking the hole' when he gets the ball.

Posted by: MistaMoe | November 10, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

This offense rests on making defenses pay for putting 8 in the box to stop Portis. Zorn has to get the passing game to move forward enough to make a few plays early and scare defenses into keeping the safeties deep and then we can do what we are built to do, pound 'em!

And if they stay persistent with 8 in the box, then they have to pay by giving up big plays and REAL POINTS, not just FGs.

It's pretty simple really, "simple" doesn't mean "easy", but it is simple.

Posted by: craig2 | November 10, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

i guess you're using jasno as the sarah palin of your campaign against danny.

Posted by: dealer1

If you'd been paying attention you'd never make THAT accusation. NO WAY the dude's threads set anyone back 150 Large.

Posted by: TheCork | November 10, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I expect to see a few more risks shots with JC now that the streeks over.

Posted by: alex35332 | November 10, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Rumor has it ... the Lions are going to pick up Torrence to help sure up their playoff run.

Of course, he is the missing piece to their puzzle as well.

Torrence = wins...obviously.

Posted by: cej75024 | November 10, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

sorry jm220, didn't mean to lump you in with barno...lol...

ohh and if there was any doubt as to why i keep coming here if i don't like the coverage. it's simple: YOU! the jm220's, the reds and the rest of you. if nate decides to go solo and bring all of you along with him...i'll follow.

Posted by: dealer1 | November 10, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

This game has me freaking out in my pants! If we lose I think we're finished and have to, yet again, rely on other teams to lose for us to get in down the stretch...That Rams game is going to haunt us if we can't beat the Cowgirls this weekend....oh man oh man oh man....

Posted by: P00P | November 10, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

well he does have that gold plated sox hat. And a prada, I hate dan snyder bag.

Posted by: alex35332 | November 10, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Forgive me forgetting if this is nickel or dime defense, but if Springs and Rogers are both healthy, it seems like a no brainer to have Springs on Owens, Rogers on Williams and DeAngelo Hall playing center field. I know Hall isn't a saftey, but in long yardage situations and Romo's propensity for throwing questionable passes, it just sets up beautifully for turnovers in the secondary.

Cannot wait for Sunday... HTTR!

Posted by: AppleScience | November 10, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Rumor has it ... the Lions are going to pick up Torrence to help sure up their playoff run.

Of course, he is the missing piece to their puzzle as well.

Torrence = wins...obviously.

He is an up an coming corner that got burnt quite regular and was an absolute "STUD" on special teams at watching punts bounce into the end zone!!

Posted by: Lacantwrite | November 10, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

iggles are done. and hopefully zorn goes back to what brought him to 6-2 and will kill the girls season too. any news at all on romo?

Posted by: dealer1 | November 10, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

"Do you guys have a sense of how many new wrinkles we might see? I think, specifically on offense, it could be substantial. Zorn and Garrett are forward-thinking dudes."

I've actually been wary of Zorn's playcalling the last few weeks. He's been very conservative and hasn't really been out-of-the-box at all, IMO. It culminated in the Steelers game, which was almost like re-watching the Giants game from week 1. The good news is that week 1 loss to the Giants seemed to be a wake-up call for Zorn, and hopefully that Steelers game provides the same push. I'm hoping for much less of a reliance on Portis, and a much heavier burden on Santana and Cooley. Get back to the beginning of the season where Portis was actually the afterthought who pounded teams late in games after Campbell/Moss opened them up.

Posted by: psps23 | November 10, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

In the course of a half hour there are already close to 10 posts from TheCork. Quality over quantity bro, learn it and help us all.

This is the week we should see a good passing game. Dallas secondary is just the medicine we need.

Posted by: JasonLaTempleton | November 10, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Apple, a nicle D uses (usally 5 DBs, 2 Safties and 3 CB's). a Dime uses 6, 2 Safties and 4 DB's. It seems in the NFL everyone is so fast now that we see 100 variations of each, with Safties down as LB and CB's deep or CBs on the line.

Posted by: alex35332 | November 10, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Cobra is three safeties (though I think one of them is named Springs).

Posted by: dcsween | November 10, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

oooh oooh i got an idea for zorn. put in kelly only in the red zone (really inside 15). big target, don't have to run as much just about 10 yards or so...ala darkarian mccants...

Posted by: dealer1 | November 10, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Hall inside the locker room right now....

Said Al Davis had a few talks with him and said he thought the record would be better than what it is. And since he was last man in, he was the 1st man to go........

also said they played Man 24/7 regardless of the offense.......

Said the media has created the 'Meangelo' persona and that's the only place he heard it from and he's never heard it from his teamates and he'll block for Santana and ARE......

Said he would have came here last offseason, but was impatient because he wanted to get out of the ATL ASAP.....

Doc Walker has a Man Crush because of his skills and talent........

Posted by: 4thFloor | November 10, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see us experiement with a 4-2-4-1
So 4 down linmen, 2 linebackers, 4 CB's +1 Safty in a umbrella coverage.

Posted by: alex35332 | November 10, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Springs BETTER be back and healthy and making TO's life miserable while Roges covers Williams. If I thought Hall was any good I might have him cover Witten (he's a WR in a TE body).

Let's hope for good luck with Romo & Co. being as rusty as the Pittsburgh crew weren't.

Posted by: TheCork | November 10, 2008 11:50 AM

So many things wrong here, Cork...where do I start?

First, don't insult Pittsburgh by comparing them to Dallas. A team that builds thru the draft with no names and undrafted rookies and plays ABOVE expectations should not be even in the same room as a bloated, overhyped and underperforming circus like Dallas. Pittsburgh was pissed that they got handled by Philly and NY and were out for NFC East blood. If we play them a week before or after, we win.

Secondly, I don't care if Hall is Deion 2.0, you don't line up a corner across from a TE. I wish someone would do this with Cooley; the TE trucks the CB at the line and is wide open downfield while the CB is clearing cobwebs on his a$$. If you have a fast LB or a big safety (like Landry), that makes for a better matchup.

I think the Skins will be fine in this game. A much needed bye and getting key players back rested and healthy. And if Dallas continues its inability to stop the run, then we'll get our 2nd sweep in 4 years!

Posted by: brownwood26 | November 10, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Adjustments? Here are some:
1. Devin Thomas/Deangelo Hall should get a chance to return punts.
2. The Skins need to give up the "smoke" wide receiver screen to Santana Moss. Everyboody knows it's coming.
3. Moss should run his routes from the flanker/slot position out of short motion to make the guy defending him chase him.
4. Attack the end zone once the offense gets within field goal range. Passes to Cooley down the center of the field, passes to Randle El cutting underneath would pull safties deep.
5. The toss sweep--with Randy Thomas pulling and Sellers leading--to the underside of defensive pressure must be a staple running play. Make the blitzers cross the field to catch Portis.
6. Let Rock Cartwright relieve Portis. Shaun Alexander is just not 'attacking the hole' when he gets the ball.

Posted by: MistaMoe | November 10, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Great post - I am interested to see if Hall stays as a 3rd/4th CD then he would be a great choice as PR. ARE would then be fresh and have a potentially larger impact as WR. We still score on the 'smoke screen' and it keeps the DBs guessing - not sure if it should go away for good. Moss is just so quick and dangerous with the ball in his hands. At this point point I think Crash Williams may be a better choice then Alexander - sad to say that.

Posted by: ssh1549 | November 10, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I know that bootlegs and designed rollouts like Denver runs aren't a typical part of the west coast offense but JC is very mobile and seems to make good decisions on the move. It also helps the oline because it's more similar to run blocking versus typical pass pro, I hope they do some more of it this week to keep Ware and the other Dallas blitzers off balance and not sure where JC will be.

Posted by: zjfr2 | November 10, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

beep beep

Posted by: Cindy Boren | November 10, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Cobra is three safeties (though I think one of them is named Springs).

Posted by: dcsween | November 10, 2008 12:09 PM

Yes, that's right. The one with four is Cobra Kai (and one of them is named Johnny).

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i219/MavsPimp/cobraKai.jpg

Posted by: 4-12 | November 10, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Worst case scenario: 2 years down the road, Tryon hasn't improved, is still an awful cover corner, and can't be trusted to even be a dimeback. He gets released.

Best case scenario: Tryon improves his coverage skills and becomes a solid nickel-back. In this case, he becomes what Torrence currently is.

Not trying to be a negative nancy about this situation, as obviously Hall is a great pickup. Just defending my opinion.

Posted by: psps23 | November 10, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

So with all the practices and workouts that you've been watching, you've reasonably concluded that Tryon's best-case scenario is that he becomes a decent nickel-back?

With all due respect, your opinion is pretty nancy-negative, and based on what you saw in a couple of rookie pre-season games.

Even if he does get cut a couple years down the line, what did we lose? We lost out on Leigh Torrence...I think we'll recover from that.

Posted by: p1funk | November 10, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Think we'll see more throws to Cooley. Recently, teams seem to have shut down Moss. The hope I think was that Shaun Alexander would bring a new dimension to the offense complimenting Portis. That hasn't even come close to happening yet. They were probably hoping to throw to him and make things more west coast like. They are still going to try that to set up longer tries to Moss and Randle El. Me thinks Thrash looks better than Randle El and so should be playing more. The new rookie wide outs seem like they are going to be relied on less and less.

I think the acquisition of Hall looks better on paper than the acquisition of Alexander. The dude has 3 interceptions and an awful lot of tackles in a losing cause. Maybe he was beaten on some deep throws. Seems like the whole team may feel "beaten" and demoralized because of the owner. The guy now has a chance to shine at home in front of his fans. I suspect he could be very effective in this defense if he can manage to work well with the other guys.

I think Hall is the big change, the X-factor, for improvement after the bye. They need something to lift their defense up to the Giants, Titans, Steelers, et al. hopefully he can provide some of that.

I expect the offense to remain somewhat conservative unless Jason Campbell suddenly breaks out in this offense. Their fate will likely lie with the defense.

Posted by: periculum | November 10, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Thanks 4th.

Posted by: Gweez | November 10, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Alex!

Posted by: AppleScience | November 10, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Adding wrinkles sounds fine, but I hope Zorn doesn't do anything too drastic. My theory on the Redskins most ugly losses (Giants and Steelers) is that they came when Zorn tried to implement a more traditional West Coast offense, in response to heavy pressure defenses that also play the run very well. I think that if Zorn were to stick to the way he has done things the majority of this season (more power running to set up play action), we'll actually have a pretty good shot at a playoff berth. The run game didn't work as well as it did because the skins caught people by surprise. It worked because Zorn stuck with it and they executed it well. I don't know that the skins would have beat Pittsburgh if they had stuck to the run game, but I don't think they would have looked quite as inept.

Posted by: FITS | November 10, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

JLC writes,

"With the NFC East teams beating one another up, you have to think the NFC South is going to send at least one wild card team."

-------

In a battle for Wins over Losses, one division can't beat itself up more than another!

Every division is going to finish 12-12 against itself.

Posted by: filmchis | November 10, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

"That's half the league, folks."

------


Yes, JLC.....Half the league has a winning record.....Shocking!.......wait.....no it's not.

I hear 50% of coin flips land on heads!

Posted by: filmchis | November 10, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

More 2 tight end formations from their own thirty to Dallas red zone.

Make Defense guess more on run direction, let TE's be safety valves w/ option routes after blocking down.

More deep routes.

Posted by: daddy00 | November 10, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

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