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Alexander: Teams 'Want to Be the Spark'

In this week's installment of Special Teams Saturday with Lorenzo Alexander, we'll take a look at how the Redskins intend to rebound after two momentum-shifting plays on teams helped the Carolina Panthers rally from a 15-point deficit for a 20-17 victory over the Redskins.

Trailing, 17-2, in the third quarter, Carolina broke a 55-yard kickoff return and scored their first touchdown shortly thereafter. "Not to make excuses, but once we watched the tape, Kareem [Moore] got blocked in the back, he got held on that play, and he was in the gap that the guy ran through," Alexander said. "We turned it [the tape] into the league, and once we got the [ruling] back, they said it was blocking in the back - holding. But it doesn't matter because we still need to get off blocks and make plays. We just got back to the basics this week: Low pad level, just getting off blocks and getting to the ball."

And things only got worse for special teams coordinator Danny Smith after a strange sequence of events on a punt in the fourth quarter that resulted in a turnover that Carolina quickly capitalized on to score the go-ahead touchdown. The play, on which punt returner Antwaan Randle El signaled for a fair catch, ended with the Panthers recovering the ball on the Redskins 12-yard line after Byron Westbrook was pushed into Randle El and the ball hit Westbrook's foot. "It was just a fluke play," Alexander said. "There was really nothing you could do. That happens but once in a blue moon."

As some of the Redskins learned the hard way, the play adhered to NFL rules. Carolina Coach Jox Fox said his team's players are instructed to block opponents into punt returners under the rules, but that's hard to execute. "It's so hard for you to be thinking about, 'Okay, well, this guy's got me blocked, so let me push him into him.' It kind of has to be set up like that, where it was a 5.0 hang time on a like a 30-yard punt, so they had more then enough time to kind of just jam him in.

"When you're in the flow of a game, it's hard to kind of think about, 'Oh, let me jam him and try to get him into the returner.' Everything that happened, the hang time, short punt, made it perfect to have that happen. I don't think you can really teach that. Now, if it happens like that for us, well, hopefully somebody makes that play."

At 2-3, the Redskins need a spark in an effort to even their record Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs at FedEx Field. After the late letdown on teams against the Panthers, that group hopes to be a catalyst for change.

"We kind of took that loss on us," Alexander said. "Those two plays right there put those guys in position to get the two touchdowns they had, which, ultimately, ended up winning it for them. Me and [special teams co-captain] Rock [Cartwright] were talking and just saying we've got to step it up. We want to be the spark and not the scapegoat for why we lost."

Gameday Weather

The Capital Weather Gang has the latest update on Sunday's forecast. Remember: There's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriately dressed people.

By Jason Reid  |  October 17, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Jason Reid  
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Next: Rinehart Questionable for Sunday


"He (Jim Zorn) had no input into anything that's happened and now they're blaming him for everything."

I hope I'm not quoting you out of context, but Zorn's case is a classic example of what happens when the unprepared snook hooks up with the arrogant know-it-alls.

You really have to wonder who'd take the redskins' head coaching job given the way the Zorn experiment has worked out.

Do you thin Russ Grimm--or any other prime candidate-- would bite at the chance of coming to DC given what's happened over the past 10 years?

Don't think so.

Posted by: MistaMoe

well stated Moe! I think the type of coach that would come here is like the type of free agent the Skins have attracted the last 10 years or so. They are here for the payday above all else. Team is a distant concept if even thought of at all.

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | October 17, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Special teams play has been decent this year with the exception of the obvious muff from the prior game.

The Redskins need to change a few things overall....

First, rough up the opposing quarterback. If you get called for roughing the quarterback and you do it without being dirty, hit him and get penalized. Pretty soon the quarterback will realize he has no "safe" zone with which to play. It is time to put fear into the opposing team and nothing does that better than a quarterback who is hurrying things. Two penalties with enough venom in the hit should do the job.

Special teams. So it is now legal to block a player into a punt returner. Let that be the MO for the rest of the season. There is no excuse for a punt returner to ever feel safe from now on.

Offense. Wildcat formation with Randle El being a wide out and Portis at running back. Plenty of options. If this offensive line isn't going to handle normalcy well, then let's shake things up. No huddle, wildcat, changing to Randle El in shotgun, different looks - its time to throw everything at the opposing team - running this offense scaled back is a recipe for failure. Better to go down trying new things to keep defenses guessing than to run stale stuff that they can snuff out instinctively. Imagine if we had Colt Brennan who could scramble with this Wildcat - now that would have been fun!

If I was the head coach with 11 games left, I'd be telling my defense to "release the hounds" and on offense we'd be changing our philosophy to better suit our situation - our mantra in 11 games would be "let's go out there and give it everything we have, have fun, and make them adapt to us and make them pay when they do!" The skins can't sit on their hands or they'll be 4-12. A positive and revamped outlook could cause problems. Take the roughing penalties and you might give up a drive - but you will screw with some QB's brains like Romo and McNubb - ones that are particularly sensitive to being roughed up!

Posted by: laserwizard | October 17, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Obvious Hogs weather for gametime!

Posted by: Xlnt | October 17, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

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