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Bolts Defense Faces Onslaught of Weapons

Posted Oct 31, 2013

The Chargers defense faces a stiff test in the form of the Washington Redskins.

Take one look at the Washington Redskins roster and you see a list of game-changing players.

Take a look at them on tape and you see how talented they are.

Washington is a top-10 offense in all four major categories.  They rank seventh in total offense (394.4 ypg), 10th in passing (257.1 ypg), sixth in rushing (137.3 ypg) and 10th in points (24.7).   Defensive Coordinator John Pagano’s unit has tied the franchise record going 11 straight quarters without allowing a touchdown. But they know they have a tall task ahead of them as they look to lengthen that mark. 

On film they’ve seen the rust shaking off of phenom quarterback Robert Griffin III.  After feeling the effects of offseason knee surgery early on, RGIII is rounding into form.  The second-year passer has completed 158 of 268 passes (59.0%) for 1,878 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions.  His 240 yards rushing is second on the team, and is averaging 5.6 yards per carry.  With a rocket arm and quick feet, Pagano knows neutralizing Griffin is one of the keys to victory.

“You see the explosiveness when he runs the ball,” he said. “You see his mobility in the pocket. The number one thing I’ve been telling these guys is that they’re a play action pass, shot team. A couple of those throws are just a yard or two yards off in a situational deal where they get those big plays because those guys are wide open.”

On Wednesday, Head Coach Mike McCoy explained ways the team will try to limit RGIII.

"You have to be very disciplined in what you are doing- following rush lanes or pressures,” he said. “You have to make sure when you have an opportunity to get him, you have to breakdown and tackle him. He's a very athletic quarterback who makes plays with his speed. The great thing he does also is once he gets out of the pocket he makes the big throws downfield. It's a challenge for you as a defensive player to be disciplined and understand that you have to stick to your responsibilities. If you freelance at all, he'll make you pay for it."

While he gets the majority of headlines, the Redskins are more than just RGII.  They boast a top-flight running back in Alfred Morris, a dangerous pass-catcher in Pierre Garcon, a rookie tight end who is developing before our eyes in Jordan Reed and many other weapons.

Morris ranks sixth in the NFL with 565 yards on the ground.  Moreover, he tops the entire league in yards per carry with 5.2.  Morris is another running back succeeding in Head Coach Mike Shanahan’s famed zone-block rushing attack.

“They’re zone stretching it,” said Pagano. “They’re going to take it all the way to the sideline as far as possible and then some. Then you’ve got to be there and make sure your guys are aware of the cutback lanes and have the ability not only to get downhill and try to go make that tackle, but also have the ability to make sure it doesn’t come back on you. They are a true zone scheme and that’s something that they’ve always excelled at since he’s been in the National Football League.”

Meanwhile, the two leading receivers, Garcon and Reed, have combined for 81 catches, 900 yards and four touchdowns.  As such, they too have caught the eye of Pagano.

“(Reed) is a kid that in the last couple games, between him and Garcon, they’re the two top receivers,” he said.  “You’ve got to understand where they are. They do a great job of mixing their combinations. Coach Shanahan has always done that; putting guys in different spots to get them the ball. From what I see on tape, I try not to listen to what’s on the outside, and try to evaluate it for myself, and you see the big play potential there.”

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