Week in Review: Mike Zimmer Must Preach Patience to Slow the Redskins’ RGIII

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Going back to the importance of the Will linebacker on the backside of the formation, if he is able to avoid being sucked into defending the run on a fake, then the extra body in the flats will be valuable to stopping the bubble screen. The ability to cover ground in coverage gives the advantage to Vincent Rey.

Especially important in the emphasis in disciplined play is that once linebackers start over-committing to stop the run and short screen, the Redskins will dial up a play action play out of the vintage Shanahan playbook.

They run a couple go routes to stretch the defensive backs vertically then hit one of their speedy receivers on a slant or crossing route into the middle of the field that is vacated by linebackers running downhill to stop the run. See highlights of Pierre Garçon’s 88-yard catch and run against the Saints for the perfect example.

The ability to play like a stronger strong safety, instinctive in open space but able to shed blocks and stuff the run or screen, is very important in this situation. On the play below, probably the second most popular against the Saints over-anxious defense, has tight end Fred Davis go in motion, eventually settling in as an h-back.

Zone run/bubble screen package play with Fred Davis at H-back. When he releases to the flat, the Redskins have two tight ends available to block.

Davis crosses in front of the running back on the fake and takes off for the flat to block the bubble screen. With Davis and Paul available to block, linebackers that are in position to defend the screen alleviate pressure on defensive backs to shed blocks from the Redskins’ tight ends.

This does not mean that Burfict should be taken off the field. Or Maualuga, for that matter. Both can serve an important role against the Redskins. Burfict’s patience and playmaking ability should earn him some time at Mike linebacker.

Burfict can defend the run and passes in the flat, while he would be better suited to guard the middle of the field against the crossing routes that the Redskins use to punish opposing teams. Maualuga could move back over to where it all began for him: the Sam linebacker position.

Playing at Sam allows Maualuga to run downhill and stop the run on the package and zone-read plays that the Redskins often send into the strong side of the formation. He would be asked to spend less time in coverage and play with fewer responsibilities, making Bengals fans breathe easier on the play-action fake. Most importantly, he would leave the field in nickel situations.