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Need to Know: Will the Redskins tackle better in 2014?

Jul 14, 2014, 5:25 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 14, 10 days before the Redskins start training camp.

Three and out

—The Redskins’ top six tacklers last year were inside linebackers Perry Riley and London Fletcher, cornerbacks Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall, and safeties Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty. Those same six also led the team in missed tackles (per Pro Football Focus). Wilson, Doughty, and Fletcher are gone as of this year; will the team miss fewer tackles? Doughty, who missed 13 tackles last year, will be replaced by Ryan Clark, who also missed 13 with the Steelers last year so that could be a wash. We don’t have a track record on Keenan Robinson, the solid favorite to win Fletcher’s old Mike linebacker job, so we really don’t know how that will work out. David Amerson will take Wilson’s spot; here is where the Redskins have a shot at improvement. Wilson played 982 snaps and missed 16 tackles, one miss every 61 snaps. Amerson missed seven tackles in 694 snaps, a miss every 99 snaps.

—If you want to put Alfred Morris’ decline in yardage from over 1,613 yards in 2012 to 1,275 last year under the microscope, you really don’t have to look past his first down carries. If you look at Morris’ 2012 season, he could have been a very valuable runner based on his first-down carries alone. He carried 202 times on first for 1,037 yards (a 5.13 average) and 10 touchdowns. Last year, his production fell to 164 attempts for 747 yards (4.55 average) and five touchdowns.

— While the numbers go on Morris’ stat sheet, anyone who watched the games last year knows that he was hardly to blame for many of the issues. Frequently, Morris couldn’t get going due to predicable play calling and/or suspect blocking. He gained one, zero, or negative yards on 48 of his first-down carries. If you take out the zero-yard and negative plays his average would jump to 6.0 yards per carry. The takeaway here is that if they can give Morris a fighting chance to get moving forward they can find themselves in second and four a lot more often than they face second and 12.

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—It’s been 197 days since the Redskins played a game; in 55 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener vs. Patriots 24; Final cuts 47; Home opener Jaguars @ Redskins 63

Open Mic: Is RG3 back to his old form?

In case you missed it

  1. rasta028 - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    How does a professional athlete miss tackles? Unreal

    • abanig - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:39 AM

      They barely practice it anymore because of the offseason and practice rules. They’re trying to cut down on injuries in the offseason – with less contact, which hasnt worked at all.

      • Rich Tandler - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:14 AM

        That is true except that OTAs and minicamps have always been no pads, no contact.

        Also, with the 2013 Redskins in particular, a lot of what is counted as a missed tackle is really the result of being out of position or taking a bad angle to the ball carrier. Result is the same, perhaps a distinction without a difference.

        I also like to point out that offensive players get paid a lot of money to make defenders miss tackles.

        > >

        • lorcanbonda - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:18 PM

          But you also have a huge changes in tackling rules over the last few years which have messed with player’s instincts.

          Overall, they still had the same rule changes as every other team. That leaves coaching to make quicker adjustment and improved tackling angles. Too many misses up the center and too many 8 yard plays by the other team.

        • bison77 - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:25 AM


          There are many tackling techniques, especially approach to tackle, that can be taught in shorts. The CBA rules should have no effect on those. If a team can teach blocking in shorts, they can teach approach to tackling in shorts. I have been a youth and HS coach for 13 years. Teaching tackling is kind of my specialty. At the HS level (at least in NJ) we have similar rules about when we can begin pads and contact, yet we consistently teach tackling techniques in shorts every year. One of the things we teach is how to avoid that “bad angle”. It requires more than one practice, more than one rep. But with practice the bad angles are minimized. Notice that I didn’t say eliminated.

          Sadly, I have seen this problem at the college level, too. In talking to some college coaches and players, the thinking is, the coaches expect the players to know how to tackle (having been taught in HS) when they get to college. So they don’t specifically teach tackling. Not a good policy.

    • yournameisoffensive - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:44 AM

      I think it has a lot to do with them launching themselves at the ball carrier. The fundamentals of tackling have gone out the window with wrapping your arms around the runner and driving your shoulder into them. Too many times I see arm tackling or just throwing their body into the runner with the hopes of the big hit.

      • abanig - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        You mean the Laron Landry tackle?

        • Rich Tandler - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:56 AM

          Except with the Landry tackle you remain on the ground and you’re out 2-4 weeks with a soft tissue injury.

        • abanig - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:21 AM

          Not when Laron missed the tackles or wasn’t on the field.

          He missed a lot of tackles as our free safety in 2009 and as our strong safety in 2010 he only played in 1/2 the games

        • yournameisoffensive - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:15 AM

          Landry is one Meriweather is another that’s famous for it. I would just watch them and think back to when I played peewee and how my coach would scream at us if we tackled like these professionals do.

        • abanig - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:47 AM

          Well, in defense of Landry, Meriweather and those like them, the NFL has been paying safeties and linebackers based on ‘Huge Highlight Hits’ since the NFL’s formation in the 60s.

  2. abanig - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    I see what you did here Rich, but while Amerson is replacing Josh Wilson as the starting Corner, it’s really Tracy Porter who’s replacing Wilson as the 3rd corner in our nickel package.

    History tells us that Porter is, how can I say this… Soft? Something Josh Wilson was not, for his size, Wilson was one tough guy.

    I think Porter is a downgrade in tackling to Josh, but Porter could force some turnovers something Josh didn’t do much of in his time here.

  3. edromeo - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    I wouldn’t call the difference in missed tackles betweeen Doughty and Clark a wash. Clark played 1084 snaps more then double the snaps of Doughty. So in terms of tackling efficiency Clark was 32 vs Doughty at 63 per PFF. BUT that’s the wrong replacement anyway. Clark is a FS and Reed was a SS. So Clark will replace Meriweather who missed 16 tackles in 748 snaps.

    • Rich Tandler - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:46 AM

      I looked at some bad snap count data on Doughty. Double checking, yes, Clark did play more than twice the snaps and missed tackle counts should be judged accordingly. I still would say that even though Meriweather is moving from FS to SS he’s still back there so Clark doesn’t really “replace” him in terms of who’s back there going up to make the tackle.

      • edromeo - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:24 PM

        Okay, sure Clark doesn’t “replace” Meriweather on the field because Meriweather will still be on the field at SS. But Clark replaces Meriweather as the FS and Meriweather replaces Doughty as the SS.
        If you want to say that Meriweather vs Doughty at SS is wash I would be more inclined to agree although I think Meriweather speed/range represent a clear upgrade over Reed.

    • abanig - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:58 AM

      Well it’s still Clark who will replace Doughty in the line up.

      It’s just like Porter will replace Josh Wilson as one of our top 3 corners.

      The safeties in the Redskins and Steelers schemes basically play the same way. They don’t play a traditional strong and free safety- instead, the safeties mostly play sides of the field.

      You’d have a hard time convincing many that last year Ryan Clark was a better form tackler than Reed Doughty.

      It really doesn’t matter though, every single one of the back 7 or 8 have to tackle better when a pass is competed or when a running back gets past the front 3, 4 or 5.

      • edromeo - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        Haslett’s scheme is based in the Steelers scheme but the safeties do not play the same way. There is a clear cut FS and a clear cut SS. Ryan Clark played most of his snaps away from the LOS as the FS. Troy played most of his snap near the LOS as the SS.

        Anyone who doubts for a second that Clark is better tackler then Doughty needs to have their eyes checked.

        • abanig - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:56 PM

          Well you could say the same for the Redskins the past 4 years.

          When Kareem Moore, Doughty, Atogwe, Madieu Williams and Brandon Meriweather we’re playing more of the coverage or FS role in Haz’s defense, they didn’t play as close to the line of scrimmage either – just like the steelers D.

          I think it will be pretty clear that the Redskins want Ryan Clark more in deep coverage than they do Meriweather in 2014 when we actually watch the games.

          The problem is that Ryan Clark is now our London Fletcher from 2013. Clark has lost a few steps over the past few years, now that still doesn’t mean he’s going to be awful but we’re not getting the pro bowl Clark here friends.

          That being said, Clark is definitely going to be an upgrade over Doughty or anyone else we’ve had back there since Sean’s death in his coverage, intimidation on receivers and especially in communication (remember the FS is the Qb of the secondary) but, as you said, without Doughty at SS we will definitely lose something in our run defense, I don’t care what the missed tackle stats say!

  4. kenlinkins - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:34 PM

    IMO : It is easy to figure out. For the tackling to improve, the team speed must improve. If Robinson, Thomas, Amerson (at Safety) and maybe Breeland / Crawford / Porter across from Hall are on the field together, then the tackling will be better but you will give up more big plays until these guys learn. In 2013 the Redskins defense was late to the ball way to often. Everyone was grabbing at the ball carrier as he ran past them (i.e. out of position) instead of in front of the ball carrier ready to delivery a hit. “Grab, Grab, Grab, no one is tackling out there” (from NFL Films in the 1960’s). If the Redskins start Meriweather, Clark, and a Stop Gap guy at ILB, then I would look for the same poor tackling we saw in 2013.

    • abanig - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:39 PM

      Well, hopefully Keenan Robinson turns out to be more than just a stop gap and hopefully we get more pressure not the Qb this year which means less completions and rushed passes where the DBs will have time to close in on the receivers and make the tackles.

      They also must gang tackle, run to the ball. If the defenders run to the ball to make tackles together, then more tackles will be made and less will be missed

      • kenlinkins - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:00 AM

        I agree 100% on the gang tackling and running to the ball. That alone could help save a few TD’s! Archives

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