The Redskins’ defense doesn’t quite know what it will be facing on Monday night when Chip Kelly unveils the NFL version of his Oregon offense. But it seems to be a pretty good guess that it will be fast paced and there will be option elements to it.
Being in top football shape is the key to dealing with the fast pace of play. “When you talk about the conditioning aspect, we've worked on that throughout the summer,” said safety Reed Doughty. End Stephen Bowen added that the coaches have been “killing” them with an ultra-high pace during practice.
You also have to get substitutions on and off the field quickly and make sure that everybody is on the same page. Doughty has noticed that teams have had an issue with communication in these situations.
“What you see is they aren't getting the play in, they aren't getting the call out, they're not getting lined up and then they get a touchdown,” he said. “It's about us effectively communicating quickly.”
Communication and conditioning go hand in hand. If you can’t catch your breath you can’t hear the signals.
“The more anxious you get about it, the worse you are in the sense that you need to control your breath, listen to the call and just go play football,” said Kedric Golston.
Once the ball is snapped, one of the keys is to stay disciplined, according to Bowen.
“It's all assignment. Everybody has an assignment,” he said. “You can't think, oh I thought I saw this so I went there. Carry out your assignment.”
“If you've got the dive, play the dive. If you've got the quarterback play the quarterback. If you've got the pitch, stick to the pitch. That will be key for us on Monday.”
Doughty agreed that executing your assignment is important but that getting to the ball quickly is crucial. “I think more so than discipline it's hustle. You've got to be in condition, you've got to get 11 people to the ball. You have to play your assignment but after that you've got to rally to the football. You can't take plays off.”
Flying to the ball while maintaining assignments may seem to be contradictory but when Jim Haslett was asked how a defender is supposed to balance the two he said they can’t.
“I think it’s a combination. I don’t think there is a balance,” he said. “It’s both. You’ve got to be disciplined, they make you be disciplined in what they’re doing. You’ve got to be able to tackle well and then everybody’s got to be in the right spot and everybody’s got to run to the ball. So they make you do it.”
“That’s the kind of offense. They spread you out, they use 11 guys – the quarterbacks, the running back. They use everybody, and we’ve got to use everybody.”