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    • By Destino in ES Coverage
      Good afternoon Redskins nation!  I’m in beautiful Landover, MD with Spaceman Spiff who has been pulled away from Instagram models and tailgating and sent down to the field to do what he does best (roll around in the mud).
      Let’s get down to business...  Can we block them?  There are other story lines entering into this game but worrying about them feels largely academic.  The Texans have two terrifying pass rushers and the Redskins intend to block them with optimism and underdog stories.  Alex Smith isn’t a statue but he does take time in making decisions and getting the ball out.  This combination looks disastrous.  The sort of thing that has us all after the game consoling each other with things like “well, it was just a bad matchup" and “we caught them at the worst possible time.” 
      Or... we could walk away wondering just how the heck this team managed to pull off another improbable win.  Last week the gave up something like twelve thousand yards of offense to the Bucs, I’ll have to check those numbers to be sure, but only three points.  That’s not supposed to happen.  Maybe we can enjoy an outrageously unlikely result again.  Not probably, not likely, but you know... maybe.  I’m saying there’s a chance.   
      I’m here for that chance.  (and you know... the free food and climate controlled free seats) 

      1st Quarter Update
      Redskins are running their bend and break defense, and I’m not sure a little over three quarters is enough time for the Redskins offense to close a 10-point gap.  I’m having flash backs of week nine, but having human emotions is considered “disruptive behavior.”  I'm fine.  Everything is fine. 
      That Quinn celebration, whatever that was, was the highlight of the 1st quarter. 
      2nd Quarter Update
      Is there a better way to start a quarter than by scoring a touchdown?  There is, if you follow that TD drive with a forced turnover on defense.  Things are looking good! 

      So much for that.  A great start was quickly ended up canceled out by the Redskins offense.  With a chance to take a lead Alex Smith throws a pick six in the red zone and takes the air out of the stadium.  He followed that up by throwing another interception on the very next drive.  Alex Smith almost made me forget about Vernon Davis dropping that pass.  Almost. 
      Texans missed a field goal attempt and the lead remains frozen at 10. 
      This quarter feels like a giant blown opportunity.  
      Halftime Update. 
      I should have stopped at one hotdog.  I deserve this.
      3rd Quarter Update
      You know the feeling where you say and think all these bad things about a player and then he breaks his leg and you immediately feel bad about it?  I live there now.
      Colt McCoy has freed me from that place of sadness! 
      As much as I love this defense, they have to start forcing teams to punt at some point.  Is there a stat for defense tha thas forced the fewest punts?  We have to be near the top of that list.  Texans have punted just once today.  Holding them to three was good, though.   
      The lead is down to six and Colt McCoy has arrived to save us.  (Please let that be true.) 
      Personal Note:  Someone just stomped, loudly, out of the press area like a while muttering at his phone.  Laughter and comparisons to toddlers followed him.  The media's laugh is an evil laugh!  Good times. 
      4th Quarter Update
      Colt has brought us back.  Welcome to the first lead change of the season, Redskins fans.  You like that?!  (Yeesh, was that always so lame?)  I guess you could say Adrian Peterson contributed by actually scoring the touchdown.  I bet Colt told him to score though, so you have to factor leadership into things.
      Once again, the defense cannot force a punt, hard to feel great about holding a team to a field goal when that field goal gives them the lead in the 4th quarter 
      Remember that whole "can we block them" thing?  The answer was absolutely not on the Redskins 2nd drive of the 4th quarter.  Watt and Clowney each sacked our man Colt, and ended that drive before it really had a chance to begin. 
      Horrible, no good, very bad holding called on Norman gifting Houston a first down at the worst possible time for it.
      Colt chooses to throw deep at an inopportune moment resulting in a 60+ yard attempt for an injured kicker.  Heartbreaking end to a game that cost this team entirely too much (via injury) yet still seemed to be within reach several times. 
      I'm off to the post game press conference and locker room, check back later for updates.
      Final Thoughts
      I’ve always found it preferable to watch my favorite team simply get destroyed, than to feel that they were the better team and still managed to lose.  The Redskins gave this game away with mistakes in the 2nd quarter.  Fred Davis makes a routine catch and Alex Smith doesn’t throw a pick six, and the scoreboard shows at least 7 fewer points for the Texans.  Even if the Redskins had settled for field goals, that’s a 13 point swing in 2 point game.   
      Losing the game wasn’t even the worst part.  Losing Alex Smith, for at least the remainder of the season, is likely enough to push the Redskins past the point where they can continue toughing their way through key injuries. 
      We'll all feel better after a win against the Cowboys next week. 


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Chalk Talk: Strength Calls/Defensive Fronts/Gap Control

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In the Chalk Talk Random Question Thread, I've noticed that alot of people want to talk defense. So, here's some defensive talk :)

Determining Strength:

With all things in football, different teams use different philosophies. I'll share with you the ones I use. To determine offensive strength, the first thing you look for is a tight end. If a single tight end is present, the side that the tight end aligns to is your strength call. If there is no tight end, or a balanced look, you look for the next possible strength check:

Multiple Receivers. The side with more receivers, once tight end side has been determined as an unusable check, now becomes your strength. If that check doesn't work, you check

Where the running back is aligned. If there's one back, and he's aligned to the right of the quarterback, it's a strong right call.

And the last one we use is the arm of the quarterback. In a formation where it's perfectly symmetrical (like an ace formation, or a bone formation) the hand that the quarterback throws with helps us to determine our strength.

Now, keep this in mind, our strength calls are extremely dumbed down. In college we used two separate strength calls. One to determine run strength and one to determine pass strength. But this is kind of a easy way to check strength calls. :)


There are two types of fronts in football, the odd and the even front. Quite simply put, an odd front has an odd number of players on the line of scrimmage and an even front has an even number of players on the line of scrimmage.

The 3-4

A 3-4 defense technically means that there are three down linemen and four linebackers, hardly a ground breaking thought... But when those two linebackers are also on the line of scrimmage it becomes a five front. Now, that doesn't change the frontage... A 3 man front and a 5 man front are both still odd fronts.

The primary difference between the two types of fronts are the use of a nose tackle. Perhaps the word "nose tackle" is a poor choice here, as some 4-3 defenses utilize a nose tackle as well, but they align themselves differently.

In an odd front, you'll primarily see a nose tackle aligned head up on the center (0 tech) and two tackles aligned head up on the offensive tackles (4 tech).

Now, other players can be added to the line of scrimmage to create a five front look, and this may cause some of the DL to bump down a man or two, but in essence, it's the same thing.

3 Front and Gap Responsibility

Typically, a 3-front defense is a two gap type of scheme. What that means is you're required to read and react to close the gap to the playside. You have keys in the offense, most notably the offensive linemen in front of you. If a guard pulls, he's going to bring you to the football the majority of the time. If the offensive lineman pass sets, you're probably going to rush the QB (unless a blitz is on, then responsibility CAN change to an occupier role). But the bottom line is, they have to make a read and react. The nose, for example, will attack the center and slide into a gap as a play develops. Some of the best noses don't have to engage and react, they can react at the snap because they see what's going on. They are responsible for both A-Gaps technically.

However, a 3-4 scheme doesn't HAVE to be a two-gap scheme. It can be played as a one-gap defense, it's just not as common as the two-gap.

An A-Gap is the gap to either side of the center. The B-Gap is the gap between the guard and tackle, C-Gap is between the tackle and tight end and the D-Gap is outside the tight end, or where the TE would be.

I'm not going to go into too much detail here, instead, I'll link you to jtyler42's post in the Random Chalk Talk Thread, he really touches on the minute differences of the 3-4 defenses very well:


The 4-3

The 4-3 is an even front defense. An even front uses a nose tackle (except here he plays more of a 2 technique, or for simplicity's sake he aligns himself on the inside shoulder of the guard). The defensive tackle will align in a 3 technique (outside shoulder of the guard), and then you usually have a 5-tech defensive end to the nose side and another end anywhere between the 5-8 techs dependent on if there's a tight end. The side of the line with more offensive lineman, or the strong side, is the side where you'll see that 3/5-8 tech defenders.

There are many variations to the 4-3 defense.

The 4-3 under defense and the 4-3 over defense are two of these variations. There are cases, such as Nick Saban's "Bubble Over" defense.

The Mike will declare the strength, or as Saban likes to call it "The Bubble Side" (away from the TE). The Will walks up to the outside of the line of scrimmage, next to the offensive tackle or tight end (making it appear to be a 3-4 defense). To add to the illusion, the nose tackle will shift over and play a 0 tech, also mimicking what teams do with a 3-4 and the DE to the strong side will sometimes stand up, leaving you with 3 "down" lineman and four "backers". This player is generally in a 9-tech (outside shoulder of the tight end) and the tackle to that side lines up in the traditional 3-tech.

To the side with the traditional even front lineman, they play a 1-gap system. So the strong side DT and strongside end will all play single gap. The other side will be played as a 2-gap defense, that would be the weak end, and the nose.

The 4-3 Under is a scheme that generally assigns the Sam to the TE. The rest of the line will kick down a bit. The strongside defensive end will play a 5-tech, the strongside tackle will play a 0-tech (resembling a 3 front nose tackle), the weakside tackle will play a 3-tech and the weak side end will play a 6-tech (outside shoulder of the tackle).

In this D, the 0-tech and the strong end play 2-gap defense and the 3-gap tackle and the end play a 1-gap scheme.

If the tight end motions across, usually the Sam will go with him.

Again, these are only the basics, and I wish I had diagrams of these defenses :ols:

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