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How Will Teams Attack Redskins' D

I had a long conversation with a member of the organization last night, and talk eventually turned to the defense. The early signals thus far are distressing - shaky run defense coupled with a lack of a serious pass-rushing thrust - and given those issues it will be interesting to see how teams attack the Redskins in the coming weeks.

The obvious assumption is the Saints, being a pass-first team with various weapons, will try to spread the Skins defense with four-and-five-receiver sets and go after the depth in the secondary. But if they don't have to, will they? Some are wondering why, if teams are able to play the Redskins "straight up" as the Giants did with two-receiver sets and a fullback, they'd take risks and use spread formations frequently.

The next few weeks could go a long way to determining how the rest of the NFL perceives the Skins, and as we all know perception can very much influence reality in how clubs prepare and game plan. New Orleans and Arizona are not real power teams. They lack hard-charging runners and do not have overly physical offenses. If they can pound the ball on the ground, then this could be some season.

As the person I was speaking to pointed out, look at the NFC. It's a passing conference, strange as it is to think of it, even more than the AFC (where Jacksonville, San Diego, Tennessee and Pittsburgh, as well as clubs like Buffalo, Baltimore, Denver, are essentially trying to punch you in the face with the running game every week).

Very few top teams in the NFC have a smashmouth approach. So if those pass-oriented teams can run on you, and you still can't really get after the passer (we'll see if/when Jason Taylor's knee responds and how he comes along), then you're back to relying intensely on your back end to hold everything up, and you get what we've essentially seen for the last few years, with corners in man coverage trying to keep pace with big, strong fast receivers in difficult match-ups.

The Giants are one of those bullying, smashmouth clubs. They can beat up defenses more than most, so you can't extrapolate what they did to the Skins last week across the board. And the team that gutted the Skins on the ground in the preseason - Carolina - uses that same approach. So this may not be apples to apples. The next two weeks will tell us a lot. Dallas will go with heavy personnel and run right down your throat when it wants to with Marion Barber, but Jason Garrett wants to spread the field and stretch an opponent out as well. They have a great hybrid mix. The only other teams in the NFC that will really try to run it down your throats are Atlanta, Chicago and Minnesota, and both have such unsettled/unproven QB situations that those teams can be so one-dimensional that they won't strike fear into opposing defenses weekly.

Thus it's imperative to stop the run against teams that use the pass to set up the run in many games (think Philly), and that's what most of Washington's schedule is littered with. If they can establish a solid ground attack, and are able to sprinkle in multi-receiver sets when it's most conducive to success, rather than as a base formation, then the odds are the offense wins.

As I wrote on Thursday night, Skins defensive coordinator Greg Blache's preference to rely on his talent to win individual battles and get to the quarterback, as opposed to utilizing exotic blitz packages to compensate for what the defense lacks, might be something that ends up changing over time. Jason Taylor was the only real "upgrade" to the D Line on paper, and his ability to play the run will be tested within the division at the very least. The front seven must make some major strides starting this weekend (the linebackers must be much more stout, take better angles and not over-pursue), and you know Blache is harping on that all week.

The loss of Marques Colston certainly takes away a favorable matchup for the Saints, and I believe it will make TE Jeremy Shockey even more of a fulcrum on which this game could swing. Given their struggles in the run game, the Skins might end up with FS LaRon Landry doing more work inside the box, where he is essentially an extra linebacker and can be a major force. But given the lack of explosion in Rocky McIntosh's game right now, and the fact that the other outside LB, Marcus Washington, wasn't even on the field on third down a lot of the time against the Giants, you have to wonder who besides Landry can really cover Shockey right now. And if they do split Shockey out wide quite a bit, then any interest in keeping Landry inside the box might go out the window.

There are going to be a lot of tricky decisions to be made within the chess match Sunday, bottom line, and that's part of what makes this sport so great.

By Jason La Canfora  |  September 10, 2008; 11:50 AM ET
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Next: Springs Looks to Shockey to Step Up


with players?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Art and DOC are on 980 it is great to hear them talk old school Skins.

Posted by: Flounder | September 10, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

One goal Sunday: stop Bush

Posted by: Nickels | September 10, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

One goal Sunday: stop Bush

Posted by: Nickels | September 10, 2008 12:22 PM

Same goal on Novemer 4th.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

One goal Sunday: stop Bush

Posted by: Nickels | September 10, 2008 12:22 PM

I've got one goal on Sunday: GET bush!

Giggety, giggety.

Posted by: Glen Quagmire | September 10, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse


+++I'm the outrageously and without reasoning Kelly bandwagon jumper. Back off tough guy.

Posted by: Skinz | September 10, 2008 12:15 PM+++

Dude, our man's just gonna have to get himself a bigger bandwagon after Sunday. Room for everyone.

He catches 8-10 bls, w/one hand tied behind his back.

Posted by: Glass Half Full Corkczar | September 10, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

+++Pittsburgh looks the most dangerous after week 1. But my sleeper may have to go with Denver. Cutler is the real deal.

Posted by: psps23 | September 10, 2008 11:28 AM+++

As is Eddie Royal, who ate DeAngello Hall's lunch, Monday

Posted by: Corkczar | September 10, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I had a long conversation with a member of the organization last night, and talk eventually turned to the defense.

By Jason La Canfora | September 10, 2008; 11:50 AM ET

Good to see that at least the janitors are talking to JLC.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Fair enough, I guess i can share the "early adopter" tag. You'll all be with us soon enough.

He's the last great unknown and as they say, Hope is the last thing to go....

Posted by: Skinz | September 10, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Goal is to stop Brees......

Posted by: chrIS lArry | September 10, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Durant Brooks is going to have a heck of a second NFL game trying to eliminate the threat of Reggie Bush. I only say that because I expect at least one punt (per drive--just kidding, keep faith in JZ and JC alive).

Bush coming out of the flat as a WR is going to be the toughest thing to stop (Rocky, Marcus, Fletcher must be able to). New Orleans has no running game.

Posted by: Section 104 | September 10, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Andres Cantor | September 10, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

F Bush, both of 'em. I'm not worried about Reggie Bust. I'm more concerned about the Saints front seven. They make up for the horrible secondary.

Oh yeah, that guy Brees, yeah he's pretty swell too. If we can't put pressure on him, it's going to be a long day.

What's the over/under for receptions by David Patten?

Posted by: Red of the DMV | September 10, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I want Landry to frickin injure someone this week.

Posted by: Prison Balls | September 10, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I thought the goal was the playoffs?

Posted by: Jim Mora | September 10, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Stay nimble today...lots of updates. beep beep

Posted by: Cindy | September 10, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I have a question/comment on the post. If the AFC is more of a running league then the NFC and JT came from Miama as an all-pro DE, shouldn't he be able to handle the run in the "weaker" running NFC?

Posted by: bishopj | September 10, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I just don't get it, why does J La thrive to be the most negative beat writer in sports. We had the number 3 run defense last year, you failed to mention that once. The gmen ran on us this year and last year. Yet this year we are a hopeless run defense. It makes zero sense and it seems as if he goes out of his way to be negative. Its nice to have an unbias writer but I don't believe he is.

Posted by: common sense | September 10, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Well what insightful writing...gag, bltthhh...give me a break isn't this the same team we beat in New Orleans win they had the spectacular year 2 years ago...although the skins play like a bunch of chumps sometimes they do indeed have the personnel to match up with anyone, problem is getting them motivated to even play for most teams it's just the desire to win...with our skins the last decade plus it requires so much more it's easier to make excuses for them than to strap it on and bring it...if this is as they say a business then i'd like to work for it because there are lot of employees who are getting paid and not producing...

Posted by: Kevin | September 10, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

You know any QB can look great if he's not facing any type pass rush...if our O-line would man up sometimes JC would look that way also...

Posted by: kevin | September 10, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Not sure why you guys get upset when Jason points out what is clear to everyone else around the country. All he is doing is calling it like it is.

You guys should be alot more appreciative of the fact that we have someone like Jason working this beat and that he is actually objective and not some giant homer.

Posted by: Ash in SEA | September 10, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse


I am not knocking him, I just want to know why, if the AFC is the better running division and JT is an all pro, he would now be a liability against the run. LOegit question, no?

Posted by: bishopj | September 10, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Fulcrum ... nice!

Posted by: PA Skins Fan | September 10, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

One goal Sunday: stop Bush

Posted by: Nickels | September 10, 2008 12:22 PM

Same goal on Novemer 4th.

Bush isn't running for presidency you left wing nut nut.

Posted by: Andy | September 11, 2008 8:21 AM | Report abuse

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