Poz's Notebook: The Trenches in the 1st Quarter

Hello, friends. It's been a long time since I've thrown up a fanpost but since you all seem kind of down about the last game, I've decided to compile some notes I was taking last night and during a subsequent re-watch of the two most crucial elements to our re-worked team - the offensive line and the defensive line. The notes are of everything from the lines up to the 3:40 mark of the 1st quarter following the horrific touchback call and Rex Grossman entering the game. Every single play the first teams ran has a tidbit below for those of you that missed the game. For those that did watch, I'm also posting this to get your thoughts on what I observed - set me straight, add some analysis, provide some commentary as there are a ton of better football minds here than mine and I'd like some more meat on these quick notes. Three quick positive conclusions from one meaningless game if it were an accurate barometer - which its not - and which I hope will send you all into the weekend feeling a bit better: (1) Kyle Williams is going to do his best to be the most dominating force on the defensive line, (2) Andy Levitre is astonishingly good at playing guard (3) Cordy Glenn is more than capable of starting in this league. The defensive line is first, followed by the offensive line. These are of course, just one casual fans opinion and I for one cannot wait until our more distinguished writers start giving us reviews in week 1 - cough, cough, Ron bring back o-line grades, cough :) -Enjoy.

The Defensive Line

Displayed good power and impressive tackling once they closed on the ball carrier, first toss Kyle Williams and Chris Kelsay took on blockers head on while Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus were left free as linemen try and get to the next level and the Bills defensive line makes them pay as both showed superb quickness in getting on the RB. No gain.

Next run, Mario Williams knifes into the backfield with “wow” quickness but overruns the play, however Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, and Chris Kelsay move with ferocity to quickly get in the backs lane, the disruptiveness makes it easy for the linebackers to get in on the action, Kyle Williams makes a great play to get the carriers legs down. Seems pretty clear teams won’t be able to block everyone and they will be capable of lots of chaos and disruption. No gain.

First passing play the Redskins pocket holds but the defensive line does get considerable push from all four spots, including Kelsay, and Griffin has to throw quickly, out of bounds, incomplete. Against Tom Brady that would be complete but you’re not going to get pressure every time.

Next drive, first run, my goodness guys Kyle Williams looks incredible playing between Marcell Dareus and Mario Williams. The Skins try again to send a blocker to the next level, its becoming obvious this won’t work against our defensive line and I'm starting to wonder if a change in this department is what allows the Skins to score later in the quarter. If so, in a real life game, Wannstedt would adjust to this and take care of it in my opinion. Anyway, Marcell is free after he instantly shoves a guard to the ground while fluidly moving to the running lanes and Mario Williams gets a tight end. This leaves Kyle Williams one on one with the center and he just drives right through him, looking like a grizzly bear taking down an elk, right into the running back sending them both down to the turf for a loss. Even if Kyle doesn’t make this awesome play, Mario Williams would have been right there and Kelvin Sheppard, Kirk Morrison, Nick Barnett and Jairus Byrd looked ready to pounce as well. This defense has swarming potential behind a defensive line that is opening up a lot in the ground game. Despite his distance from the play, the Skins put a WR on Mark Anderson, who dispatches him quickly and would have been in position to at least prevent a first down had the back not been demolished.

It's hard to get a read on the Bills pass rush as Griffin again gives a quick release.

Next run is the fumble. I think Spencer Johnson was in for this play instead of Kyle Williams but I couldn’t see the numbers. Either way, Mark Anderson does a nice job, shoving his man out of his stance and right into the running lane, stuffing the runner dead cold and the ball pops out as again, swarming Bills are everywhere. Picked up by the always heady George Wilson. I have to say Kirk Morrison shows pretty good strength taking on a blocker for the second time in this one.

Play action has everyone fooled on the defensive line but Nick Barnett is ready for Griffin, forcing a quick throw that would have been a catch but Jairus Byrd demonstrates great awareness and toughness, flying to the ball and delivering a jarring hit to knock it incomplete.

On the next Griffin pass attempt, the defensive line appears controlled by the Redskins offensive line but Kyle Williams continues to drive his blockers around, forcing the Skins to put two blockers on him and still he flailed about clubbing and shoving his way around until he went down.

Running play, Royster cuts nicely to slip through past Kyle Williams but the linebackers are there to gang tackle him for a minimal gain. I will say Mario Williams seems constantly on his feet and moving to the ball, Dareus was run out of the play and Kelsay got taken down.

Next pass play, Kelsay and Mario Williams both jump offsides. At this point, Kyle Williams is being routinely double teamed right off the snap and Marcell Dareus is getting one blocker but there was no push up the middle from either.

With Kyle Williams taking a breather on the sidelines, its Mario Williams who gets the double team blocking now as the Skins take their chances with Marcell Dareus and Chris Kelsay. The double team is successful in pushing Mario out of the play and Royster runs for a big gain. The Skins let Kelsay come off the line free and use a blocker on Nick Barnett instead, this is what springs the play in addition to what I thought was Bryon Scott misreading the run.

Next run the Skins try to run up the right side, putting a WR on Mario and Spencer Johnson makes a great play filling in for Kyle Williams to wrap up the ball carrier after shoving off his blocker. Anderson is in the game for Kelsay and Dwan Edwards for Marcell Dareus. The Skins continue to ignore Kelsay/Anderson and run away from them.

Spencer Johnson makes another solid play against the run. Dwan Edwards is blocked well and Mario Williams makes a nice move to nearly get an arm on the back for a tackle for a loss (I felt like he would have made this play in regular season games) creating a large lane but Spencer Johnson yet again claws his way through to get on the carrier's legs and help George Wilson make a nice stop. Spencer's play was big because the Skins did a nice job of getting a lineman to seal off Kelvin Sheppard from getting to the ball carrier to help his safety. Anderson is doing nice work even if hes not getting in on the play.

Next play is the Garcon touchdown, all that really stuck out to me was that Mark Andeson was so close to either knocking down the throw of picking it off if he just got a few more inches on his leap and it was cool watching an angry Kyle Williams seeing the touchdown coming, running downfield and throwing a lineman who wasn't looking into the air.

The Offensive Line

First pass, Glenn seemed caught off guard by Brian Orakpo’s speed and Hairston struggled with Ryan Kerrigan coming off the other side. Glenn directed Orakpo off the QB eventually (and with a potential hold) but not before the damage was done and Fitzpatrick had to step into a pocket where he saw ghost rushers up the middle, causing him to unnecessarily tuck the ball, anticipate a hit and thus get sacked. In Fitzpatrick’s defense, Adam Carriker was driving Chad Rinehart back like a sled.

On the very next play the offensive line did much better with Glenn and Hairston stopping Orakpo and Kerrigan in their tracks and the interior line acting like a wall. Complete for 11 yards to Stevie Johnson, no surprise.

Fitzpatrick takes a big hit from an unblocked linebacker blitz. I didn’t see a missed assignment but we didn’t have enough guys to pick up each man. The empty back set is tough in that regard, Fred Jackson could have really done work as a pass protector on this play. Instead he goes out to run a route and the pressure forces Fitzpatrick to make an errant throw behind Fred Jackson himself. Glenn caught my eye again as someone who needs to get quicker off the snap.

Next pass, starting in the redzone following a fumble, the offensive line does excellent work. Fitzpatrick has all day to throw as Glenn owns his man, the interior again is a wall, and Fred Jackson is sweet picking up the free man off the right side to let his QB make his throw. Im not sure how Fred can be taken out on passing downs. Fitzpatrick throws a pass right into the defenders hands on what would have been, in a real live game, a red zone pick 9 out of 10 times. I can't say whether this mistake is on Scott Chandler or Fitzpatrick but someone was way off. If Fitzpatrick had a better feel for the rush he may have taken his time and looked for a pass elsewhere, like a wide open Derek Hagan who is visibly upset after not being seen.

Next pass, the offense line does their job to a man but CJ Spiller is in the backfield instead of Fred Jackson and he appears to have misread his blocking assignment. As a result Fitzpatrick makes another rushed throw but he finds Donald Jones for a nice small gain on what would have been a big time sack/scramble for a less decisive QB. Watching the play a few times, and not being familiar with the playbook, Spiller appears to be set to block the blitzer that Glenn picks up while the man on the edge comes free. Still, whoever it's on, in a very similar situation just last play, Fred Jackson did pick up the edge rusher as opposed to the inside blitzer, whom Hairston took on, whereas CJ didn’t. The interior continues to be a wall.

This is the called back touchdown play and both Hairston and Glenn admirably hold down the edges, while Levitre is consistently stonewalling on the inside. Good throw from Fitzpatrick. Too bad this play was called back, it was good execution in the redzone other than the penalty.

Next play, I was surprised Fitzpatrick threw it as quick as he did with so much field to go on 3rd down because the offensive line seemed to have him protected but there wasn’t much of a pocket - if that makes any sense. Still, I’d like to see him step up into a longer throw than making a quick slant toss to CJ Spiller.

Next drive, more good blocking by the offensive line, Hairston and Glenn appear to be getting more comfortable. Andy Levitre is really, really, really consistently good.

Next play, the Bills offensive line forms a very nice pocket. The pocket does close rapidly on Fitzpatrick as Chris Hairston is getting shoved back hard by Ryan Kerrigan but Fitzpatrick shows more faith in his linemen than last drive, steps up and delivers a strike down the middle capped off by an amazing catch by Scott Chandler – this was the highlight play of the night in my opinion. Cordy Glenn is beginning to do very good work on Pro Bowler Brian Orakpo. Rinehart is solid on another play and Levitre and Urbik take on a man together, with success.

Next pass is again successful to the patent Stevie move because of a nice pocket – Hairston and Glenn win another round against Kerrigan and Orakpo. I'm sounding like a broken record but the interior again, does well on each of their blocking assignments. Despite Rinehart playing better and better, I’d say his spot is the one area where we could see better blocking and we will when Wood gets back and Urbik slides over.

Next pass, Hairston gets beat by Kerrigan, as a result he is able to jump up and swat the Fitzpatrick pass at the line. Glenn is getting more comfortable with each snap.

The Bills try a deep shot on the next play and the offensive line does everything it has to. Glenn seals his edge, Hairston wins his battle, the interior is consistently winning on the inside and Fred Jackson is strong standing in the middle with the big boys and lowering his shoulder to deliver a stunting hit to aid Urbik and Rinehart. Fitzpatrick is inaccurate though and the pass is uncatchable out of bounds. Derek Hagan had a step on his man and the safety wouldn’t have made it over.

Next pass, Hairston gets beat soundly but Fitz makes a nice little step up to avoid the rush and throws a pass too high for Stevie Johnson. I think Fitzpatrick's clock is too used to getting rid of the ball under constant duress because after that little move he did buy himself enough time, with the rest of the line holding it down, to take a bit more time on a better read. If you look downfield Scott Chandler was wide open for a first down. I couldn't see the numbers but I thought it was Marcus Easley looking like a better target on a curl route and I think TJ Graham was also running free deep down the left side - Peyton Manning/Tom Brady takes a bit more time and probably hits one of those three. Fitzpatrick throwing to Stevie under perceived duress felt like a force of habit safety blanket throw. I think this will be coached out through the next month.

Alright, thats all I have time for today, maybe I'll rewatch some other stuff later but its almost the weekend!

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of

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