With a quarter of the season behind them, it’s a good opportunity to evaluate what has worked best for the Redskins. The offense didn’t get off to the best of starts, but it’s picked up as it finds a rhythm. Here’s a closer look at some of their most successful play concepts.
One of the Redskins’ most successful and common run plays has been the counter trey. It’s a play made famous by former Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs during his Super Bowl-winning tenure in Washington.
The Redskins didn’t use it in their opening game against the Eagles, but it has been run in every game since.
The concept: All the blockers from the center to the tight ends block down a gap to their right while right guard Brandon Scherff and right tackle Morgan Moses pull behind them. Scherff is tasked with kicking out the edge defender while Moses has to wrap around and seal off the inside to create an alley for the running back. To help account for two lineman pulling, the Redskins have wide receiver Jamison Crowder motion back across the formation and pick up the edge defender on the back side.
Just as the ball is snapped, both inside linebackers take a step toward the line of scrimmage, anticipating a run. The Redskins’ linemen do a good job to pick them up, but accidentally leave the defensive end unblocked. Fortunately, he has too much distance to make up and running back Rob Kelley is able to run away from him. On the other side, Scherff does a terrific job of pulling and kicking out the edge defender while Moses wraps around and clears the alley for Kelley on his biggest run of the game.
The Redskins have also used different variations of this scheme to keep defenses from guessing the play.
This time, instead of pulling both Scherff and Moses, the Redskins pull Scherff and tight end Niles Paul, leaving Moses in place to cut off the backside defender.
As before, we see Scherff kick out the edge defender while Paul wraps around to lead the way for Kelley. With this play being run in the red zone, the field is more compact and the Chiefs are able to get their safeties up to the line of scrimmage to support the run quicker. But Kelley still manages to pick up five yards on the carry.
Another successful running play for the Redskins is the crack toss.
The crack toss is designed to get the running back to the edge with the frontside offensive tackle also pulling to the edge in front of him. To enable the tackle to pull, the offense has a wide receiver or tight end, sometimes two, down block inside on the edge defender. Here, the Redskins motion Terrelle Pryor Sr. into a stack behind Crowder. Both Crowder and Pryor down block inside, allowing Moses to pull out and lead the way for Chris Thompson.
Pryor isn’t able to fully pin the edge defender inside, but he stops him from penetrating and blowing up the play instantly, which is what he needs to do. The defender does a good job working across Pryor to get back outside, but Moses is there to pick up the slack and clear the way for Thompson, who picks up a first down before a defender is able to get a hand on him.
The final run play we’ll look at is called duo. It’s a power run intended to create as many double team, or duo, blocks as possible.
Here, the Redskins get two double teams up front. Left guard Shawn Lauvao and center Spencer Long team up to block the one-technique defensive tackle, while right guard Scherff and right tackle Moses take on the three-technique defensive tackle. Their job is to secure their respective defensive lineman and walk them up to the linebackers on the second level. The running back has to read the Mike (middle) linebacker and make his cut based on how the Mike fills his run responsibilities.
Mack Brown approaches the A gap between the center and right guard while reading the Mike. The Mike fills the A gap but is picked up by Long, who peels off his double team block to secure the Mike. Brown opts to bounce his run outside to the right and manages to turn the corner and pick up a first down.
The Redskins have plenty of commonly used passing concepts like slant-flats, curl-flats, double stick, etc. But it hasn’t always been their staple plays that have been the most successful. Against the Rams, the Redskins used a concept that we’ll refer to as a quick seam to good effect.
Quick seam can be run from a variety of different formations and personnel groups, but the concept always remains the same. On this occasion, it’s tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis who run the concept. Davis runs a crossing route inside to draw attention away from Reed behind him. Reed runs a quick seam route in the vacated space behind Davis.
Davis breaks inside on his crossing route, forcing his defender to follow him inside. That leaves Reed one-on-one on his quick seam route against a defender playing with outside leverage. Reed predictably wins the route and is open for an easy catch down the middle of the field with space to pick up extra yards after the catch.
The simplicity of the concept allows it to be run from various looks, and it’s tendency to give receivers extra yards after the catch is always a positive for the offense.
This is the same concept, but from a totally different personnel group and formation. Davis again runs the crossing route, but Crowder is the beneficiary of the quick seam behind it this time.
Crowder has a slightly more difficult matchup than Reed did on the previous play because the defender covering Crowder is playing with inside leverage. Crowder does an excellent job selling a jab step and head fake to the outside, getting the defender to bite on an outside route before quickly breaking back inside across his face. It’s another simple read and throw for Kirk Cousins, who hits Crowder in stride and allows him to pick up plenty of yards after the catch.
The final passing concept we’ll look at is another one that hasn’t been used regularly, just twice this season in fact, but it’s picked up big gains both times.
Jon Gruden, Jay’s brother and ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” commentator, refers to this play as “Bubble Y Over.” The slot receiver to the left runs a bubble screen while the outside receiver to his side runs down the sideline. The quarterback reads that side first and can throw to either route if he likes the look. If the defense takes away both options, the quarterback can then come back inside to the Y over. The tight end, in this case Davis, is listed as the Y and runs an over route that crosses the middle of the field behind the linebackers but in front of the safeties.
If all of that fails, the quarterback can check it down to the running back, who works out into the flat after initially faking a handoff.
After executing the play-action fake, Cousins reads to his left. The Chiefs play both routes well, so Cousins works back to the middle of the field where he finds Davis wide open for a 20-yard gain.
Against the Raiders, the Redskins used a slight variation of this concept.
This time the play is flipped, with Crowder running the over route from the slot. Instead of a bubble screen, Davis runs a simple out route to the flat. Otherwise, the concept remains the same.
As before, Cousins works to the opposite side of the over route first. Davis gets caught in traffic trying to release off the line of scrimmage, taking him out of the play while the Raiders have cornerback David Amerson playing deep on top of Ryan Grant. So Cousins works back inside to the over route again, where he finds Crowder, who is able to dodge a few tackles after the catch and pick up 30 yards before being brought down.
The Redskins’ most effective passing plays often have been simple concepts that are easy to disguise with variations in formations and personnel that stop the defense from diagnosing the play before the snap. They’ve had a great deal of success when they are able to get the ball in the hands of their best skill players, such as Crowder, Reed and Davis, who are all capable of picking up extra yards after the catch.
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