After watching the film of Sunday night's season finale, it was obvious the Redskins couldn't move the ball through the air consistently with a banged Robert Griffin III, but they had a running attack to make up the difference.
Ground and Pound
Have to once again say I was impressed with Alfred Morris and what he was able to do Sunday night. There are things that you don't see on film that he does even better in person. As good as Robert Griffin III is, Morris makes this offense difficult to handle.
When they can keep pounding the ball at the defense, it makes those read plays that much harder to defend because you are committed to trying to cut off the run. The scheme puts a great deal of pressure on your ends and outside linebackers because you have to honor the ball going inside. The offense freezes your defense to the point that there is indecision on whether to stay wide or to crash inside.
One of the strengths of Anthony Spencer is his ability to play the run but when you see him come to a dead stop as the ball is going up the field, you know the scheme is doing its job. Morris is such a physical back that as the game wears on, you see defenders not want to tackle him. One of the biggest problem for the Cowboys I observed on Sunday night was their inability to disengage from blocks.
The film was able to prove that out as well but when you try and arm tackle this guy, you have no shot. There were times where the Cowboys had a good look at taking him down in the hole, only to bounce off and end up on the ground. Morris might not have the breakaway speed or quickness but what he does have is outstanding vision. During the night there were plays where lanes were clogged up front side but he was able to take the ball in another direction. I was surprised in his ability to shift and change directions as quickly as he did. Along with the Redskins defense, he was the main reason that the Redskins will move on to play the Seahawks next week.
The problem going forward for the Cowboys is that they now have to face Griffin III and Morris for years to come and that will be no easy task to say the least.
No Big Plays
We all saw what a physical game this turned into for this Cowboys defense with Alfred Morris running the ball. I can only think of two games this season where they got beat up on defense, Seattle and last night. One of the main points of focus in this game for Rob Ryan was to try and eliminate mental errors which led to the big plays that the Redskins were able to make the last time these two teams met.
Despite the way the Redskins were able to run the ball, the Redskins passing game was non-factor. There were not Redskins receivers or tight ends running wide open which they had happen last time. On the tape, the secondary did a much better job in coverage and Ryan did a nice job of keeping safeties in the middle of the field but allowing his corners to match up and run with these receivers.
I have always felt this defense is better when Ryan plays this way. There were plays where Griffin III didn't have anywhere to go with the ball because the coverage was that tight. Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan and Santana Moss didn't have the room to operate in this game. At half time, I told some of my media friends in the press box that if the Cowboys could make Griffin III have to throw the ball, they would have a great shot to win this game because the Cowboys secondary was playing that well but the problem that this defense faced was trying to keep Morris in check.
If there was something that I would like to see different from Claiborne in 2013 is his ability to play more aggressively in trying to deny the ball. On the slant, you have to fight from the press not to allow the receiver inside. As a corner when you read that route, you have to physically fight to not allow that to happen. There have been times where Claiborne just hasn't done that. He has allowed that inside route and that is not good. I would also like to see him not play so soft on the edge when the ball spills that way. There has been times where he has shown courage but he needs to be more of a force on the outside. Tackling corners are just as valuable as corners that can cover.