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The Rock Cartwright Special Teams Report

The Redskins certainly need to get a few things sorted out on special teams. They are last in the league in field goal percentage and last in punting average and can't afford to give yards away. This they know.

And over the past month or so a new problem has developed, with teams now generating significant pressure on the punter. During meetings this week, special teams coach Danny Smith has stressed the importance of fixing this and running back Rock Cartwright, a captain of the unit, is stressing that directive.

"Teams are throwing everything but the kitchen sink at us now," Cartwright said, "because they [have] seen we got a punt blocked, we got a punt tipped and deflected and we got people close to blocking punts, of course. They're going to throw everything at us. We've got to sit in there and basically get everything protected and get everybody on the same page, and if we do that we'll be okay."

Baltimore, a very aggressive team when it comes to blocking punts and kicks, further exposed the problem Sunday night, with punter Ryan Plackemeier under siege a few times. As the personal protector on the unit, Cartwright makes the calls and is responsible for trying to get everyone aligned properly.

"Teams, now they're rushing us, rushing us, rushing us," Cartwright said. "And then once we get everything blocked they stop rushing us and they go to the coverage game. If we just sit the rush down from the beginning, we'll be okay."

These recent breakdowns have altered Cartwright's role somewhat.

"It has a little bit," Cartwright said. "It causes me to stay in there a little longer [to protect]. I'm not getting out like I was early in the season, and my tackles are not where they used to be, and it's kind of depressing, but at the same time it's just part of the game, and I try to do my part, whatever I need to do to help the team win, and if they need me to stay in a little bit longer to help protect, that's what I'm going to do."

I asked Cartwright about the Bengals and told him not to feed me any bull about them being great on teams, like he does about every team every week. He laughed ... and then proceeded to tell me how great the Bengals are on teams.

"To be honest with you, Cincy's teams may be one of best special teams unit in the league," Cartwright said. At this point, I cracked up.

"No, no, no, I'm serious, bro," he said. "You'll see for yourself. They fly around. They're fast. They're physical. They do a lot of twisting on punt protection. We definitely have to be on the same page this week. They've got great returners out there. They're going to be tough. I know I say that every week, but we might need to bring our a plus game this week."

By Jason La Canfora  |  December 12, 2008; 9:30 AM ET
 
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Comments

first?

Posted by: Original_etrod | December 12, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

At this point, positive momentum would be simply being able to move the ball. Start with that first (or get back to that first), then you can focus on turning solid offense into a blowout offense.

Posted by: psps23 | December 12, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I don't know...we've been moving the ball (Ravens game notwithstanding - most teams don't really move the ball against the Ravens). We're just not able to score points. If we move the ball but don't get TDs, I don't see how that is progress (esp. against a team like Cincy).

Posted by: p1funk | December 12, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

exactly psps;

someone said on the broadcast about starting quick. just like with gibbs, when we go 3 and out on the first two series, then your d has been on the field for most of the 1stQ.

I like throwing with JC early to get him in a rythmn. Mix in the run, to get CP and the oline off, but if we run on 1st and second then throw on 3rd and long, JC has no chance.

I would go trick play first play this weekend, try to get a big gainer, then immediately go hurry up. throw them off, f em up, keep it rolling.

Posted by: Zeebs | December 12, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Zeebs | December 12, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

And to respond to truth about his stats being worse. i am not sure about that. Our o was good for 7-8 weeks.

Our and cincy's problem with WR's is we have our #1 and #2 as the same type of player.

Ours are small, theirs are big.

But how many cathces does ARE have? I dont know if he has 50? i would take 50 maybe more from CJ now... knowing what we know. And maybe that diversity (isnt that an old wooden ship?) in our passing game is what we need. ARE scares no one and allows Moss to be doubled. We have harped it. just the spector of CJ maybe being good for us would make defenses think twice.

just a tought

Posted by: Zeebs | December 12, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Is it me or did our Special Teams start tanking once JLaC came out with the 'Rock ST Report'?

Posted by: DaReal4th | December 12, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

It's obvious that teams are coming after the punter more now that Leigh Torrence is gone. He's the only player in the league that can stay in to protect on the punt and still make it to the 1 yard line to down it.

Posted by: paperwc | December 12, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=3763209

When the inmates run the asylum, and why it is important for Zorn to stand up to the "strong" personalities on the team...

"That's my quarterback *Sniffle*"...

Posted by: p1funk | December 12, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

"I don't know...we've been moving the ball (Ravens game notwithstanding - most teams don't really move the ball against the Ravens). We're just not able to score points. If we move the ball but don't get TDs, I don't see how that is progress."

Posted by: p1funk

Have we?

Total Yards:
vs. Pitt -- 221
vs. DAL -- 228
vs. BAL -- 254

vs. NYG -- 320
vs. SEA -- 368


We put up good yards vs SEA and decent yards against NYG. 105 of the Giants yards came in the last 7 minutes of the game, when it was already out of reach (garbage yards). We certainly haven't been consistent the last five weeks, unless you want to say we've consistently been unable to move the ball on good defenses. Although Cinci isn't exactly a good defense (or even close), just getting back to the point where we moved the ball would be a step in the right direction, IMO. Signs of life are what we're looking for.

Posted by: psps23 | December 12, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

zeebs I agree...we're too predictable early on and we need to come out strong and move the ball. use a gadget play or hurry up to catch the bengals by suprise.

Posted by: forever21 | December 12, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Every time I see this post title I think of ...

"The Grace L. Ferguson Airline (And Storm Door Co.)"

Last word on CP vs. JZ.

Jim Zorn suffers from Portis envy. :)

Posted by: Redcoat | December 12, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

"But how many cathces does ARE have? I dont know if he has 50?"

He's got 48 catches, 557 yards, 3 TDs

Cooley has 67 catches, 713 yards, 1 TD (career highs are 66 catches, 786 yards, 8 TDs)

Posted by: psps23 | December 12, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

psps,

We choked against Dallas, IMO. NYG, Pitt and Bmore are 3 of the top defenses in the league...can't expect to put much yardage up even if we were playing great.

All I'm saying is that if we roll up 400 yards of offense against Cincy and walk out with a 16-7 victory; you can bet that NONE of the naysayers will be shut up.

Posted by: p1funk | December 12, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Defenses have got JZ's number now. Stop CP, double Moss and Cooley on obvious passing situations and this team can;t move the ball. JZ needs to find some answers this offseason.

Posted by: TWISI | December 12, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: DaReal4th | December 12, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

"All I'm saying is that if we roll up 400 yards of offense against Cincy and walk out with a 16-7 victory; you can bet that NONE of the naysayers will be shut up."

Posted by: p1funk

Well I'm a naysayer, and I can say that nothing that happens against Cinci will shut me up. We can drop 67 points on them, it wouldn't make a difference, because the doubts against good defenses will remain.

All I'm looking for is that the offense plays well. That will quiet down the talk, until the true test vs Philadelphia. Zorn isn't winning anybody's heart against Cincinnati.

Posted by: psps23 | December 12, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Zorn isn't winning anybody's heart against Cincinnati.

Posted by: psps23 | December 12, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

...and that was sort of the thrust of my original post.

Posted by: p1funk | December 12, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Musts for game...

Attack and dominate 1st qtr to grab "big" lead (10-0, 14-0, 14-3) - we've let too many bad teams hang around

Zone D + Blitz - confuse/pressure Fitzpatrick to force TO's

Convert all FG's - Swish has missed some crucial kicks the past few weeks that could have swung momentum

Gadget plays - Backs up against the wall & it's a must win so get creative to spark the O

Posted by: forever21 | December 12, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Actually, i want to take my strategy back. We should use that against the iggles.

We should come out and start pounding the bungles d line. Pound them into submission.

Run Portis. Put betts in and run him. Then put sellars in and then run him.

Teams tend to key on our pass when CP isnt in the game (why Sellars was able to run so well in the beggingin of the bmore game).

Then when they creep, screen them to death with cooley, Davis, Moss and Thomas.

Posted by: Zeebs | December 12, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

"Run Portis. Put betts in and run him.

Posted by: Zeebs "


I dunno, if Betts gets some plays Portis might start crying again.

Posted by: TheTruth11 | December 12, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

The best TD opening drive we've had in years was against Arizona...

the opening drive against Detroit was a thing of beauty but we fell apart inside the 10

Posted by: forever21 | December 12, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Zorn should try a Campbell to Brandon Loydesque bomb to Devin not Heaven Thomas on the very first offensive play and see if the kid can catch it.
What is there to lose? It just* might* work**!

Posted by: ILikeSonny | December 12, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

...and that was sort of the thrust of my original post.

Posted by: p1funk

Fair enough

Posted by: psps23 | December 12, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Save the trick plays and hurry up O (which I think is a GREAT idea) for Philly. We need to pound the rock and kick Cincy's a$$- outphysical them from the start.

Posted by: cosomfla | December 12, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

In response to Marty Shotzenheimer, yes Portis is a bit of a diva but I have heard him say publicly that he would prefer to have like 75 yards and win that to lose. He might be full of it but that is what he put out there.

Posted by: Tyler2Durden | December 12, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

cosomfla, we do seem to use the hurry up/2 minute drill pretty well but that is to be expected at the end of a game when you are down 2 scores and the D is in prevent mode. However, it would be a nice wrinkle to run the no-huddle and experiment with it a little against Cincy and really unveil in vs. Iggles.

Posted by: Tyler2Durden | December 12, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

27-13...hail

hip hip horray!

Posted by: forever21 | December 12, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

In a shocker, John Clayton listed the Skins/Bengals game in his top 10 for the week (#10). Even as a Redskins fan, I can't possibly fathom a less-enticing matchup than the one on tap for this weekend.

Posted by: psps23 | December 12, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

It is only after we have lost everything that we are free to do anything. I mention this because Cincy has lost it and could prove to be far more dangerous than we realize.

Posted by: Tyler2Durden | December 12, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

stay medium - stop worrying about "perfect" or "exact" and play loose...let's have some fun and physically beat cincy into the ground

Posted by: forever21 | December 12, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

These guys need to "play their guts out" this week.

Posted by: Masonman | December 12, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

DURDEN, I WOULDNT GIVE THE IGGLES A SNIFF.

sorry for all caps... dont give it away. make them think we are so hard headed that we will just run and screen.

maybe this is what they call overthinking it, yes?

Posted by: Zeebs | December 12, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

cosomfla, we do seem to use the hurry up/2 minute drill pretty well but that is to be expected at the end of a game when you are down 2 scores and the D is in prevent mode. However, it would be a nice wrinkle to run the no-huddle and experiment with it a little against Cincy and really unveil in vs. Iggles.

I can go with that...just hope they play with some urgency and efficiency!

Posted by: cosomfla | December 12, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I HAVE BEEN CALLING ALL YEAR FOR A SWITCH UP. PASS ON FIRST AND RUN ON SECOND. LET THIRD DICTATE. THEN NEXT SERIES DO THE OPPOSITE. NEXT SERIES BOMB ON FIRST THEN TWO SCREENS.

IT JUST DOESNT SEEM ZORN WILL DO THAT. LIKE GIBBS, THIS IS WHAT WE DO, STOP IT. AND STOPPING IT THEY HAVE.

Posted by: Zeebs | December 12, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: DaReal4th | December 12, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

stay medium - stop worrying about "perfect" or "exact" and play loose...let's have some fun and physically beat cincy into the ground

Posted by: forever21

JC said early in the week (which wasn't reported here) that the team is playing tight and playing not to make mistake. I keep saying that Zorn got to stop preaching their will be mistakes.

JM220

Posted by: icetotalpackage | December 12, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Opposing special teams are always better than the Skins this year...

So Rock is justified in saying every opponent is a threat.

They need to hire backups who can actually block on punts, kicks, and punt returns.

Posted by: siris | December 12, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

1st play - shotgun slant to 89, 11, 12
2nd play - power I fake to Sellars w Thomas pulling and pitch out to 26 for misdirection
3rd play - playaction to coooooooley and move the chains....

continue to pound Portis and mix in some throws (screens RB's, Cooley over middle, 89 or 11 deep)

Posted by: forever21 | December 12, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

beep beep

Posted by: CindyBoren | December 12, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

jm, agreed, stop thinking so much...start playing...

Posted by: BeantownGreg | December 12, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

++++Every time I see this post title I think of ...

"The Grace L. Ferguson Airline (And Storm Door Co.)"


Posted by: Redcoat +++


I LOVES the Bob Newhart references...

Posted by: TheCork | December 12, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Solution: stop punting.

Posted by: cpascopr | December 12, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

the skins definitely need to overhaul the d-line. daniels is old and will be coming off a career threatening injury at the start of his 14th year. carter is a nice guy but a bust. montgomery looks like tarzan but plays like jane. golston is the reincarnation of tim johnson, which is a good thing. jason taylor maybe too small to play de in the nfc east but bring him back for next year. alexander and the greasy meatball are hustlers and just filling roster spots until the next guy comes along. d evans is the super sub but not a legit starter. let's face is buzbee is just a feel good story about a local guy that has gone from the practice squad to the ir. e. james we hardly knew you (maybe they bring him back for ota's or next summer... who knows). wilson is a situational guy but excels on special teams (which is very needed.)griff just needs to get healthy and have a 330 or 340 pounder next to him to be more effective. and jackson is a project for the time being.

why doesn't devin thomas return punts?

Posted by: jimmy_the_crickett | December 12, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

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