But let’s talk about the play that overshadowed what would have been remembered as another RGIII-engineered game-winning drive. The D.C. Sports Bog breaks down the Eli Manning-to-Victor Cruz touchdown pass.
Why wasn’t Madieu Williams playing a deep half, keeping in mind the first thing they teach high school free safeties: “Stay deeper than the deepest?”
Williams’s quotes in the Bog piece seem to indicate he was expecting a short out route, perhaps working with cornerback Josh Wilson to bracket Cruz. He was positioned wide of Cruz, toward the sideline. The replay shows Williams more or less flat-footed until Cruz runs up on him. Turning to accelerate from a standing position and trying to keep pace with someone who has a 10-yard head start at full speed is almost always a recipe for disaster.
There’s a good chance Williams was guessing. Which is fine — part of being a good DB is reading cues and anticipating which pass plays are likely to be called in which situations. But you still have to read and react to what you see.
Why would Williams concern himself with a 10- or 12-yard route when the Giants were running a second-and-10 play from their own 23? Eli’s got the fourth-quarter magic, sure. The Redskins were protecting only a three-point lead. A drive by Manning to put the Giants in field goal range could mean a tie, and an eventual loss in overtime. But giving up 10 yards doesn’t get you beat the way giving up 77 does.
The quotes in the piece also seem to suggest that Williams and Wilson were playing the coverage that was called. That means Jim Haslett, and perhaps Raheem Morris, wanted to double Cruz in that situation. Well, those guys had a spot-on hunch. They doubled the right guy, and their players didn’t execute.
I guess if you’re not a big Haslett fan you can put this on him. But no matter the defense that was called, players have to know the situation. Defensive backs especially have to know which play can hurt them worse, and guard against those.
Every time you see a defensive team giving up seven- and 10-yard passes and you get the urge to repeat the ridiculous cliche “the prevent defense only prevents you from winning,” remind yourself of this game, and what happens when you don’t play the prevent. Or any kind of two-deep coverage that leaves a safety guarding against the long pass. Much better to give up dinks and dunks and force a field goal attempt than to lose the game in one strike.
What do you think Cooley’s role will be? Another one of the overshadowed angles from Sunday’s loss is how often Griffin found Logan Paulsen. He had four catches for 76 yards, looking as much like a fine receiver as a blocking tight end. Niles Paul had zero catches.
One wonders how quickly Cooley will be able to contribute after not being on an NFL roster for seven weeks or playing in a regular season game this year. It’s nice that Cooley never wanted to leave Washington and will get another shot here, although having it come at Davis’s expense is no good.
In the comments below, I’m looking for your thoughts on coverage in that late-game situation, and what you think Cooley’s contribution will be from here on out.