All offseason long, members of the Redskins organization continued to praise rookie third-round pick Terry McLaurin. But entering Week 1, there were plenty of questions about the wide receiver, as McLaurin saw very limited action in the preseason.
It didn't take long for the Ohio State product to make his presence felt in his NFL debut. McLaurin finished Sunday's 32-27 loss to the Eagles with five receptions, a team-high 125 yards, and a touchdown, highlighted by a beautiful 69-yard strike from Case Keenum that gave the Redskins a 17-point lead in the second quarter.
Redskins offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell explained from start to finish how the long touchdown unfolded. O'Connell details what he saw from the play call, pre-snap coverages, and then the execution of the play.
First, O'Connell explains that the call is a play-action pass, describing each route that McLaurin, Trey Quinn and Paul Richardson are supposed to run.
"We attempted to run a hard play-action off one of our core, staple runs, which we run a lot of," O'Connell said. "So we were trying to basically bait the defense into driving up on the play-action and either take a shot to Terry [McLaurin] on the post if we could get over the top of the post safety. But we also had Trey Quinn on a high cross route, we call it. We also had Paul Richardson on a low cross route."
On the initial call, O'Connell explains that McLaurin was not necessarily supposed to be Keenum's first read. But after the Eagles came to the line with a lot of defenders in the box, he knew taking a chance deep to the speedy rookie could be the outcome.
"What actually happened was the Eagles tried to get overaggressive and ran a Cover 0," O'Connell said. "They blitzed seven players."
"For Case, understanding it was the Cover 0 and not feeling like he needed to throw the ball away or find Paul on the shallow, who was open on the play as well," O'Connell continued." But his ability to set his feet, find that comfort in the pocket from the [offensive] line and throw a perfect ball to Terry, who understood that with no post safety in the middle of the field, all he had to do was run. Case laid that ball out, just absolutely picture-perfect placement at a big time in the first half of that game."
Of course, that play does not happen without good protection.
On this particular play, the pass blocking came from more than just the five offensive linemen. O'Connell made sure to mention that both tight end Vernon Davis and running back Derrius Guice picked up key blocks in order to keep a clean pocket for Keenum to stand in and throw.
"Derrius Guice, I have to highlight, his ability to step up on the left side," O'Connell said. "He's supposed to void any play fake and block the free safety coming off of the edge. A really heady play for a guy playing in his first regular season game. Really have to credit him for that."
"Vernon Davis on the right side of the offensive line, passing off that pressure, and really blocking seven guys with the seven guys we had in the Cover 0, overload type blitz, was really impressive by those guys," he continued.
O'Connell reiterated throughout the segment that taking a deep shot was not the first intention when drawing up the play.
"We're obviously calling that play on a second-and-8, just trying to take advantage of the defense, see our formation, and see the potential for a run fake there," he said. "But as soon as you get to the line, and you start to feel all 11 defenders up by the line of scrimmage, you have to start thinking this is a Cover 0. For them to run a Cover 0, all-out blitz, they probably felt very strongly about their ability to get to Case on the pressure."
Once the Redskins picked up the blitz, all Keenum had to do was find McLaurin. The rest was history.
"Then Case, to sit in there and launch just an absolute dime-ball, right inside the hash to Terry streaking away from their corner, that's exactly how we draw it up," O'Connell said.
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