As mentioned yesterday, here’s my game plan for the offense for the Giants game on Thursday. I’m going to try to do these game plans every week, because not only do I think they make good reading, but JZ is new, and he could use all the help he can get. As the season goes on, I want to try to add some video to this and show certain plays that deserve a breakdown. Since there isn’t much film on the team yet, that will have to wait. For now, there are a few keys to the offensive success.
1) Jason Campbell must get rid of the ball without hesitation. JC’s INT last week against Jacksonville came on a double clutch. In general, since week 2, Campbell has pumped, held the ball up, and then thrown to the same target he held back on an inordinate number of times. Rather than a pump fake, this is hesitation or perhaps poor timing. As many of you know, the WCO is predicated on timing. If you are throwing a slant, you aren’t just aiming at the receiver and throwing it to him. The patterns are designed to allow the most YAC from the catch. I believe some of these double clutches are because JC gets back and set and he wants to throw the ball but his receiver isn’t exactly where he is supposed to be or where he expects him to be. So Campbell waits to throw, and then throws to the receiver at the “right” spot. But there is a major problem with that. It allows the defense to react and move to the receiver. Even if Campbell still can drill the ball in to prevent the INT, it defeats the purpose of the offense.
The solution is complicated because there are several potential causes. Campbell may be mis-timing his drops. CB’s may be jamming the small Skins receivers at the line and altering the shape/speed of the routes. Receivers may still be getting used to the offense. But the short term solution is that Campbell has to have the confidence to throw to his chosen receiver even if he is off the mark. The WCO is designed for Campbell to read the defense and throw to the receiver that is likely to be most open. He needs to trust his receiver, trust his read, and let it go. His athleticism and the athleticism of his receivers can make up for gaps in the timing much better than hesitation and overthinking.
2) The Skins have to run early and run hard. The Giants defensive line still has plenty of quality. Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka are both excellent pass rushers. But the depth has been severely depleted by retirements and injuries. Running early, hitting the corners, and making Tuck and Kiwanuka play the run will wear them down. We have to run even if early on we aren’t having success. They will wear down. We should use Betts, Sellers, and Cartwright more than normal, too, to add weight to the running game.
3) We should combine the running game with early use of the screen pass. It is well-known that the screen pass is designed to slow down the pass rush, and this is a team that needs slowing down. But another factor is that the screen pass forces DE’s and LB’s to make crucial decisions. Do you continue to pressure the QB or do you stay back to cover the screen? The wrong decision puts you in no man’s land. Kiwunka was being groomed to play LB but was too mechanical for the position and moved to DT before injuries forced him back to DE. Gerris Wilkinson and Danny Clark, the OLBs for the Giants are journeymen better suited for special teams. This puts pressure on former Redskin Antonio Pierce to make the right reads. Pierce is excellent but we can isolate him.
4) The Skins need to be willing to accept short gains in the passing game. During the Super Bowl last year, the Giants protected their weak secondary by spreading their linebackers in a deep umbrella well off the line of scrimmage. Because the Pats rarely ran, the defense was designed to keep Wes Welker in front of the defense and give the CBs extra help against Randy Moss. While the Skins run better than the Pats (the only thing we do better than the Pats) it is likely this defense is what the Giants will show most against the Skins. The WCO has similarities to the Pats spread offense and short passing game. If the Skins do see the LBs play off the line, they should be willing to take the 7 yard slants given to them all day. Unlike the Pats who got anxious and sometimes tried to force things, we need to take what the Giants give us.
5) As the game moves on, if the defense does wear down and move the linebackers up in response to the successful running game, it is time to find Cooley in the middle. Safeties James Butler and Michael Johnson are mistake prone and the weak link of the defense. Exposing the deep middle with Cooley and the extreme corners with Moss should be possible if we establish the run.
There it is, the 5 step plan. Have confidence. Beat them down with the run. Take the screens and slants. Finish them with the ball and more running against the tired D. We win, 21-10.
I give the defensive game plan tomorrow morning before the game. Hail Skins!