Will Compton and Mason Foster have formed an unlikely duo. Teammates have nicknamed the two "Beavis and Butt-Head" but instead of going across America, their implausible trip has landed them as the starting inside linebackers of the Washington Redskins. Compton, an undrafted practice squad player, and Foster, a mid-season addition, both saw playing time because of injuries and performed so admirably that neither have relinquished the role. The camaraderie and constant communication on the field can be seen pre-snap almost every play and has helped fuel a late-season surge that catpured an NFC East division title. Let's take a look at their work agains the Eagles:
#1. The Eagles are in Gun Right and are running the ball. Compton and Foster have their gaps indicated.
The running back has a two way go but Terrance Knighton does a good job staying inbetween both blockers on his double team that neither can release to the second level. Compton and Foster are clean. Foster attacks.
Foster makes the tackle for minimal gain.
#2. Look familiar? Eagles run this a lot (well, they did before Chip Kelly was fired).
An offensive lineman got to the second level to Compton cleanly on this play. Darren Sproles is going to cut back here to attack the hole.
As Sproles gets to the second level, Compton is able to shed his block and make the tackle. Compton took on block but kept his eyes on the ball carrier.
#3. The defensive gap assignments are indicated above. Eagles with the shotgun run.
Ricky Jean-Francois takes up a double team here which keeps Foster clean to read the running back.
Foster waits for an opening and meets the ball carrier in the hole. An absolute thumper.
#4. Here comes film study and on-field intelligence. Will Compton is blitzing on this play and the Eagles have used this motion man a few times now. Compton times his blitz with the motion and no Eagles player sees it coming.
Compton is in so quick that he is able to play both the run and the play-action.
When Sam Bradford keeps the ball, Compton is there for an easy sack.
#5. This is why the Eagles offense can by easy to defend or hard to defend. It all looks the same so if you have players on the field who can diagnose, you're in pretty good hands.
The Eagles are clean to the second level but Foster is getting downhill so fast because of recognition. Also, look how Foster bends his way underneath and around this block.
Foster grabs an ankle and brings down the running back as he tries to run by.
#6. Of course, Will Compton has to show he does that too.
The running back has a large hole and there is a free blocker to Compton on the second level. He shows he can get low and dip under a block as well.
Compton makes the tackle for a small gain.
#7. The Eagles are going to try and little pitch play here. As you can see, Foster has the snap count down and is already flying towards the line of scrimmage.
Because of the early charge, there is no way the block can reach Foster in time.
Foster makes the tackle for a loss of six. He's just not a guy you want to run into downhill.
#8. One of the biggest plays of the game that was pretty much uncredited. Redskins have three down lineman but Foster and Compton are both blitzing. Foster is going to attack the A-Gap and Compton is going to loop around. At the bottom, you see DeAngelo Hall and Quinton Dunbar discussing coverage responsibility.
Foster goes mosh-pit and takes on all blockers opening a big hole for Compton. Meanwhile, Hall and Dunbar both jump on the inside receiver leaving the fly route outside wide open.
Compton absolutely levels Bradford and the ball sails out of the reach of the wide open receiver.
#9. Eagles Shotgun run.
Eagles get a blocker on Foster at the second level and the running back cuts that way.
Foster, who looked engulfed in his block, uses his eyes over the blockers shoulder to keep tabs on the running back. As the RB approaches, Foster reaches one arm out and grabs him, making the tackle.
#10. Neither Compton nor Foster are going to be known for their timed speed. However, instincts and technique can increase football speed. You can see it here in Compton. Eagles are just going to run a RB swing pass.
Compton recongizes the RB moving to flat and begins chase. It looks like the RB should be able to easily get away from him with this head start.
But with quick recognition and a great angle towards the ball, Compton is able to pull him down before he can get any real yards.
#11. In your typical "anything you can do, I can do better" scenario, Foster has to match it. Eagles are going to run a play action and DeMarco Murray is going to continue out to the flat.
Bradford is going to dump the ball off and Murray has plenty of room. Foster is the downhill thumper you usually want to get in open field to "break his ankles."
Foster, aggressively but intelligently, reduces Murray to the sideline, using it as an extra defender until Murray slips and Foster is able to make the tackle.
#12. While aggressiveness to get downhill in the run game has been great, it does have a few drawbacks. The Tight End leaking into the middle of the field is one of them. Play-action pass that looks the same as their other runs with a TE pop.
By the time Compton realizes it's a fake, he looks behind him to see the tight end is already passing him.
Bradford delivers the ball for a pretty good gain.
#13. Same deal here. Eagles Play-action pass with TE pop in the middle.
Compton crashes up on the run and the TE runs by him.
Bradford delivers the ball again for another good gain.
Despite the last two plays, I wouldn't trade the aggressiveness of Compton and Foster to prevent them. The duo have made a big impact on the run game that has forced more of those passing situations. Maybe with more reps and time on the field, which they'll get, they will notice more keys to when it's a run or pass but I'd rather them miss one way at 100mph than to miss both ways at 50mph.
The Redskins season has been full of surprises and unsung heroes. This tandem may lead the pack and hopefully help lead the team to a deep run into the playoffs.
Editor's Note: I made a photohop to commemorate the nick name and both players approved.
Paul Conner is the Film Analyst at Breaking Burgundy. You can follow him on Twitter @P_ConnerJr