Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hoge on Skins offense: 'West Coast is not their strength'

In the last year or two, many fans have expressed their dislike of the Redskins' West Coast-style offense under Jim Zorn. Last season the offense was ranked 28th with 16.6 points per game, and so far this season things haven't improved: The offense is currently ranked 27th, scoring 14 points per game, even though they've played against some pretty bad defenses.

So instead of merely speculating why the offense is performing so poorly like the rest of us, Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog went to someone who knows what he's talking about: ESPN analyst Merril Hoge.

And here's what Hoge thinks:

"You have a philosophy, a West Coast philosophy, and nobody fits that mold," said Hoge, who comprehensively reviewed the Tampa game on tape. "I don't think they try to take advantage of their strengths. It's like they've got a philosophy and they want to run it regardless. Shoot, I'd run the ball, run a lot of run action, stack receivers, bunch 'em coming off the line. I'd use a different philosophy to take advantage of their strengths. The West Coast is not their strength. That doesn't mean you can't do it some of the time, it just shouldn't be your staple....That, to me, is the biggest way to fail as a coach. Just watch the Tampa game. They did nothing to help their guys. The quarterback has nowhere to throw the ball, so then he gets sacked and looks like an idiot."

Hoge's thoughts aren't particularly shocking -- he's a huge fan of establishing the run and being able to then use the play-action pass. But the Redskins' lack of creativity on offense is rather noticeable, especially when Santana Moss and Chris Cooley are the only playmakers in the passing game.

Hoge had a few more thoughts:

Hoge said the Bucs--once famous for the Tampa-2 zone--were running man concept stuff in their secondary for the majority of the game. He said the Redskins were countering with pass routes that would be most effective against zone schemes. He cited one 3rd-and-10 play in which the Skins ran three curl independent curl routes.

"Man, you're never gonna win a curl route against man, ever," Hoge said. "Give 'em an option route. Stack your receivers. Run them across the field. You just can't run zone concept stuff and think you're gonna win [those battles]. You're not."

. . . . "The great demise for any coach is when he's unwilling to adapt his philosophy to the strengths of his personnel," Hoge said. "I don't care what level you're at, eventually you have to evaluate the strength of your personnel and adjust your philosophy to those strengths."

To be fair to Zorn, I'm not sure exactly what philosophy this team should be shooting for on offense. They can't really be a power running team -- the offensive line isn't good enough. They can't really run the West Coast offense because none of the younger, bigger wide receivers have stepped up and have shown that they can play, plus Jason Campbell isn't one of the best quarterbacks when it comes to making quick reads and getting rid of the ball consistently. And besides Moss, no one on the offense is really a threat to make an explosive, game-changing play.

So basically, Hoge is saying the Redskins are screwed.

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