Week in Review: Mike Zimmer Must Preach Patience to Slow the Redskins’ RGIII
By Shawn Maher
With Maualuga moving to Sam linebacker, that would seemingly displace Manny Lawson. However, with the loss of Jamaal Anderson affecting the depth at defensive end, Lawson entering the rotation on the edge makes sense against the Redskins for two reasons.
If Lawson rotates with Michael Johnson at the weak-side defensive end position, they both could utilize their long frames and experience as linebackers to combat the back-side bubble screen. The defensive end is often left in space when left tackle Trent Williams releases to block the screen.
With the defensive end losing outside leverage, left tackle Trent Williams is free to release outside and block for the screen. With the linebackers committing to the run the Redskins have a lot of open real estate.
By over-committing to the run fake to the right and losing back-side contain, defensive ends for the Saints invited the screen play against the Redskins. If Lawson and Johnson maintain outside leverage they will impede Williams’ progress and can drop to help in shutting down the slot receiver before he can take off running.
Note the Rams’ left defensive end Robert Quinn maintaining outside leverage. He impedes Trent Williams’ release and runs the play down from behind. On the right side of the formation, Cortland Finnegan plays up and forces Robert Griffin III to go to his left where Janoris Jenkins sheds a block and allows Quinn to run the play down from behind.
Against the Rams, defensive end Robert Quinn, quite the athletic end himself, was able to maintain proper leverage and help track down the slot receiver to minimize the damage that the Redskins were able to inflict in the package play game. And by being patient, RGIII’s bootleg runs and passes, in addition to cutbacks in the zone run, were rendered ineffective.
The operative word in pass-rushing RGIII will be something that the Bengals desperately need from their entire defense.
By pinning their ears back and taking off after Griffin in the pocket, a defense will open up running lanes for Griffin. That can also cause linebackers to break coverage to stop the run, opening up receivers that Griffin can effortlessly hit on the move. Flushing Griffin from the pocket is the worst thing a defense can do.
Instead, take a lesson from the Rams last Sunday. If Domata Peko can hold his position at the top of the pocket, the defensive ends maintain outside leverage, and Geno Atkins uses his patented bull-rush to drive his blocker into the backfield without losing leverage, it should look something like this.
The Rams maintain a disciplined pass rush, closing all running lanes and pressuring RGIII into an intentional grounding penalty.
The Rams caused an intentional grounding on the play, trapping Griffin in the pocket until he panicked, running backwards. The pass rush then attacked, forcing Griffin to throw it to nobody at all and causing the replacement referees to actually throw a flag.
The secret to this will be floating a linebacker or two in anticipation of the run. If any lanes open up, the linebackers can fill them, sitting back a yard or two as shown above. Griffin is still claustrophobic in the pocket and the Bengals can use this to their advantage.
Overall, the Bengals defense seems to have all the weaknesses that play directly into the hands of the Redskins. If they can play disciplined and slow down Griffin, however, their offense can certainly keep pace. Zimmer’s unit will sink the ship if they start allowing quick-strike touchdowns.
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