Film: The play that forced change on defense

Breaking Burgundy's Film Analyst Paul Conner takes a look at the play that sparked change in the Redskins secondary.

The Washington Redskins might be making a change this week in the secondary. Jeron Johnson received more play time against the New England Patriots than he had played all season. Trenton Robinson is a great guy with a good work ethic, but as the weeks go on, his technique and instincts have become more and more questionable. Check out this tweet from the other day:

Over the bye week, I watched the entire Redskins season back and Robinson kept sticking out for all the wrong reasons. When in the box on run downs, he'd be the eighth man against seven blockers. Instead of taking advantage of the numbers by Robinson gave up chunk runs. The Doug Martin scamper against the Buccaneers was the best example of that. As a single-high safety, he would set back so deep that he'd drop himself out of plays or make his angles in the run game very difficult. 

Against the Patriots, the Redskins made a change and it all stemmed from one play. Let's take a look:

The Redskins are in a Cover 1 Robber. "Robber" means a safety is dropping down in the box with no man coverage responsibilities to "rob" the quarterback by reading his eyes and under-cutting a route. Dashon Goldson lines up as the deep safety but he is the one playing robber. At the snap, he is going to drop into the box  and Robinson is going to drop back deep. The rest of the Redskins defenders are in man coverage.

Here is what the Patriots are running. This is a very common concept and if you've seen any of my Kyle Shanahan breakdowns, then you've seen this a million times. Jay Gruden runs it, also. The deep vertical/skinny post at the bottom of the screen is a clearout route so the offense can hit the deep crosser in behind it. 

Goldson jumps down into the middle of the field as the play begins. Reading Tom Brady's eyes, Goldson sees the deep crosser developing. Kyshoen Jarrett is in man coverage on the deep crosser but has a step on Jarrett because of a pre-snap motion. The vertical route is clearing out the area near the sideline. 

I loved Jarrett pre-draft but I didn't expect him to be this good this early. Here, the former Hokie knew he was beat right off the snap. In veteran move, Jarrett points out and passes his assignment to Goldson and takes over Goldson's "robber" responsibility. Goldson, also being a vet, was already crashing on the route. 

At the same moment, Chris Culliver is trying to communicate with Robinson to pick up his guy. While asking the deep man to take the deepest man isn't a daunting request, I wonder if Culliver is truly healthy. This receiver runs right by him. Typically, both men would squeeze on the deep man to prevent any deep ball.

It is as this moment that Robinson appears to try and crash on the deep crosser that Goldson has completely under control. Either that, or he is taking a bad angle on the deep in route from the right side that Jarrett sunk underneath and "robbed." Regardless, I don't know what Robinson is seeing here. Meanwhile, Culliver is letting up on the gas.

It is at this moment Robinson realizes he left the deep field open and made a mistake. He tries to get back, but Tom Brady already has plenty of room. 

Brady is hit as he throws and the ball just floats in the air. No reason this wasn't an interception. Well, no GOOD reason, anyway. Good teams make you pay for rainbow passes or "ducks." This one is completed for a long game. As the ball goes in the air, everyone turns around and looks. Jarrett is beside himself. 

The receiver makes the catch and is brought down for a huge gain. Robinson finished the drive. After the Redskins defense was able to get to the sideline and regroup, Jeron Johnson took over at strong safety on the next drive. 

Many wonder what took so long to get the ex-Seahawk and free agent addition on the field. I saw a rumor that some thought it was because he couldn't play as a single-safety while the Redskins like their safeties interchangeable. He made many plays from the single-high safety vs. the Patriots that would directly negate that.

From what I saw, Johnson thought he'd be handed the starting job when he signed with the Redskins. After Duke Ihenacho beat him out for the starting SS spot, the effort seemed to taper off culminating in him looking lost in the fourth preseason game against third and fourth stringers. 

Questionable play from the position gave Johnson new life. He now has an opportunity against the New Orleans Saints to show the ability that made him a popular signing in the off-season. Whether he is starting in place of Trenton Robinson or starting alongside him due to Goldson injury, this is his time to show he belongs on the field.

Paul Conner is the Film Analyst at Breaking Burgundy. You can follow him on Twitter @P_ConnerJr for any questions or film requests.

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