An Unsettling Fact About Scout Team Players

Photo by Ned Dishman

Photo by Ned Dishman

When Justin Geisinger came into the game last night, I knew the young offensive lineman was playing out of position, and I knew it wasn’t a particularly favorable development. To his credit, he stood up to a huge crowd of reporters today and accepted full responsibility for his performance against one of the league’s best pass rushers.

“I was a little late off the ball,” he said. “I was still getting adjusted to the snap count, that silent snap count, so I was a little late. They have a heck of a defense, and Suggs is one of the premier rushers in the league. So it wasn’t an easy situation, but it was something … I’m expected to be ready to step in if need be. Obviously, it wasn’t the best case situation; I hadn’t played any tackle in about five years, since college, but it’s the situation I was dealt and I had to go in and do the best I could with it.”


As he continued to answer questions, though, something occurred to me: Geisinger’s work in practice had largely come with the scout team, meaning that what reps he had received had been simulating the Ravens offense against the Redskins defense, not looking at the Ravens’ drastically different defensive front. This seemed like an important enough point to ask about. (Especially since it was just last week that I was told that practice for the offensive linemen is mainly about putting in the scheme.)

“Yeah, the majority of my reps are against our defense, so most of my reps are mental reps,” Geisinger told me. “I just have to stay in mentally and make sure I know my assignments, but most of my physical reps are against our defense in practice.”

Well, that’s fine, and I know the whole O-line watches film together, but isn’t this the sort of thing that might affect your ability to come in off the bench?

“It’s shouldn’t,” he said. “As long as I’m getting my steps and footwork and pass protection work physically when I play against our defense, I’m mentally in it when our offense is going against the scout team. So I can kind of put that together, those assignments and the physical technique work together in a situation where I get into the game.”

This seemed incredibly unlikely to me. The learning experience of repeatedly doing something is completely different from the learning experience of watching someone else do that thing, so I asked Lorenzo Alexander how he saw it, from the other side of the ball.

“He doesn’t get to see the looks,” Alexander said matter-of-factly. “I mean, he sits there in meetings and watches the film and knows all the calls, but it’s a big difference when you get thrown into the fire. You know it, but once you’re in there and somebody’s trying to beat you to get to Jason, then things kind of speed up so much … I just about felt bad for the guy, in there against one of the best sackers in the league.”

Pete Kendall concurred. “The guys who are backups have tough jobs to do,” he said, “because they’re supposed to serve our defense, and then learn our offensive plan in case they need it. There’s no doubt it’s a challenge to go sit in a meeting and watch other people play.”

So I asked Kendall — one of the more blunt-spoken guys in the locker room — the obvious question: is there a solution to this problem?

“You could have four hour practices,” he said. “I mean, that’s really the only practical solution: spend more time practicing so everybody performs their role, and then if they have to do something else, they’re prepared. But it’s not feasible. There’s only so much time in a day. Let’s face it, this is a physical game. This is a game of attrition.”

This is not an attempt to make excuses. Every team in the league faces the same problem, and uses more or less the same strategies to overcome it. But it’s a bit unsettling to realize that when a deep backup comes in, not only is he (presumably) a less-talented player, not only has he gotten fewer practice reps, but what practice reps he has gotten were against a COMPLETELY different scheme than what he’s now being forced to face.

Which means Geisinger’s task last night was even more daunting than it initially seemed … and it initially seemed pretty hopeless.

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47 Responses

  1. And the point to this is? I still cannot believe they threw that dude against Suggs. Couldn’t they have just switched a veteran and let him face a little less formidable opponent?

  2. it’s not his fault. sorry pal, the coaches and staff were in panic alert. cause they don’t know squat!!!

    I feel sorry for you, you did everything you could. No expected you to shut down Suggs

  3. about time somebody steps up with a tone of ACCOUNTABILITY in their voice. I like this Geisinger guy now… I really hope he has the talent to develop into a decent lineman because he has good character.

  4. Matt, thanks for the Oline update

    i think center is his position. too bad dude, i like you because we have the same first name,
    can you imagine being asked by the coach, ” Hey Justin you’re on one on one match up with Suggs” huh??? LOL

    Coach ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzz – the offense is so boring… cut your ties with Campbell now, your experiment didn’t work, I know you like Colt Brennan, otherwise you never would have drafted him in the first place. you see something in him. have him play, see if it emerges, it can very well save your job. Nobody expects the team to go to the playoffs anymore but we, the fans would like to see Colt play at the end of the season against the eagles.

    be a man, Coach, take the blame and accountablity and let Colt play!!!

  5. And another spirited discussion of “Colt should be the starter”.

    Did anyone see the two huge bombs in the first half that Santana Moss and Randel El dropped even though Campbell put the ball right in their hands?

    How about that first interception that we set up max protection on and Campbell still didn’t have 3 seconds for a deep drop and pass?

    Or any one of the other times that the Ravens just crushed our offensive line and blew threw to Campbell. Hmmm, must be Campbell’s snap count.\

    That’s it. Colt has a better snap count and that will stop people from slicing through our horrible line and sacking the QB. I’ve heard he even has a mean silent count.

    Be realistic people. Campbell is the best QB on the roster and as soon as we get

    A.) Better O-line pass-protection and
    B) Better receiver play

    we’ll have a better offense. Those are the only ways we’ll have a better offense. Colt can’t do it, Campbell and Portis can’t do it, Zorn can’t do it. You fans screaming for Colt can’t do it.

    The fact is that other people our letting our offense down. It’s going to take another year of development for our 2nd round picks and some offensive line upgrades. Campbell is doing great in his first year in the West Coast, and another offseason in it and with the young wide receivers will help more than Colt.

    Hey keep up the great work Matt, your blog is my number one spot to get the news on the Skins.

  6. weather thats true or not, campbell is beginning to play like he did last year. and not the good last year when we played the cowboys and bucs but bad when he averaged just about a pick in every game.

    hes not being smart. i know our line isnt good but becasue of that, campbell thinks he has less time to throw then he actually does.

    Zorn is too predictable. Nobody knew what to expect the first few games but when people catch on, were done. against new york, i dont think we completed one screen pass. a screen pass!!

    something has to change

  7. Geisinger did the best he could with what he had and that is all you can ask of anyone.

  8. I saw those passes Chris. I always wonder why Zorn doesn’t let Thomas run those deep routes? Maybe he’s not fast enough? I think he’d be a much better target to go up and fight for a jump ball. Campbell was right on the money with both of those passes though.

    Keep fighting Campbell – you got a couple of fans left who still believe in you.

  9. Thnx for the heads up about those two passes Chris. I re-watched the film and I got to see how much excuses Campbell fans keep coming up for him. Bottom line he is slow on his progressions and continue to second guess everything. He was calling audibles at the line and was seeing things that wasnt there. Most of his passes were late or off and in the west coast, timing and accuracy is important. Coach Zorn needs to bench Campbell and let either Collins or Colt salvage the rest of the season. Watch the defense the D-line was watching Campbell and timing is release so that they could knock the bal down. The ravens shut down the run and was playing Man with one safety over the top because they were not scared of Campbells passing ability.

  10. Gotta win the rest of the games.
    It’s possible.

  11. Right you are!! With Colt at QB anything is possible!!!

  12. Well this guy shouldn’t of even been covering Suggs,but are idiot coaching staff throws him there…I just wish we could get the Jason Campbell experiement over with already and give Brennan a shot because Campbell is not going to lead us anywhere whenever the run game is shut down he can never lead us to victory and the coaching staff doesn’t even have confidence in him thats why we never throw the ball deep down field…Giving Brennan the start against the Bengals is the perfect fit.

  13. COLT! COLT! COLT! COLT! COLT! COLT!……
    Can you hear us coach Zorn? Enough already!!
    COLT BRENNAN TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. what is all this talk of getting the younger players to step up the problem is the offensive line are too old and i dont wanna say it but they need to draft a running back clinton is getting injured all the time and has lost some speed

  15. also why does jason campbell never use audibles. when there are eight in the box and a run play is called check out of it and call a slant if there are seven in the box run it all day.

  16. Hunter,
    I think campbell did call some audibles at the line…the problem was he was reading something that wasnt there. They ended up in 3rd and long and of course your gonna get a blitz. most of the time the ravens came on a safety blitz off the end. But campbell was starting to panic and was reading blitz and audiblizing at the line and there wasnt a blitz. this ended up with the wideouts in good coverage and campbell trying to dump it off short. Anyway, you may be right about drafting a RB…we missed out on this years draft with all the awesome RBs that came in the league this year. Campbell looks like he did last year.

  17. With all these brilliant personnel guys posting their JC scouting reports, I just don’t understand why they aren’t all running their own football team.

    We’d be winning if these guys were in charge for sure.

    Doesn’t matter what QB is under center, if the offensive line can’t block a TWO MAN rush, the offense will suck. PERIOD.

    Unfortunately, it does look like at least 3 of our 5 starting offensive linemen have gotten old all at once. They have worn down, and without practicing during the week, the mental mistakes have grown exponentially. It’s obvious what needs to be done. But it can’t really be done now. Some can perhaps, giving the younger guys, the ones who are actually practicing, time on the offensive line is the best thing to do at this point. They may not be as talented, but at least they’ll know what they are doing on each play.

    Keep coachin’ ’em up Zorn and Buges, and get those young guys on the field!

  18. Playoff picture. The teams we are chasing.

    Tampa Bay- Plays ATL, SD, Oak. If they lose two out of of the 3 we win the tiebreaker over them.

    ATL: Plays TB, MIN, &STL If they lose one we own the tiebreaker with them.

    PHI is taken care of it we beat them.

    Dallas- NY, BAL, PHI. If they lose one we own the tie breaker.

    So as a real redskin fan take everything in perspective and realize as bad as well have played and lost 4 out of our last 5 we control our destiny for the playoffs, because everybody in front of us plays each other.

  19. true we can still get in the playoffs but when the only teams that we have more sacks then are the bengals, browns, and the chiefs does it sound real that we will make the playoffs. The lions have more sacks then the redskins, the 0-13 lions. Now thats sad.

  20. The only bright spot about making the playoffs is that we might play the arizona or the vikings the way it looks now. The redskins have no pass rush what so ever. Did anyone on the defensive line touch flacco. Plus we dont have any offensive tackles. Its sad but i dont think the redskins will finish over 500. Im trying to keep the faith but lets be real. No sacks and no offensive tackles sounds like trouble.

  21. I think Campbell did use audibles, but the Ravens defense is tricky. This is the Best Defense (or maybe trickiest) the redskins faced. Peyton Mannning does the best job at handling the Ravens “D”.

  22. Speak for yourself justin…..the only “fans” you speak of that want Colt Brennan to play are the ignorant, manic-depressive, impatient people on ExtremeSkins who know nothing about football.

    Looks like you’re one of them~

  23. Chris C. you couldn’t have put it any better than that man… Amen. Court is ajourned! Case Closed..! Close the book!

  24. Well Mike man I’m tired of screen plays to man, them joints ain’t going to cut it!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. You guys are crazy to think that Colt Brennan will make any difference in the Redskins gameplan. What will Colt do with 2 seconds of protection that Jason cant do? NOTHING!!! No QB in the league can produce effectively with no time to let the players finish their routs and with no time to even read the D.

  26. There is no way Zorn will put Brennan as long as the skins have a shot to the playoffs. Even if the skins dont make it he still wont put Brennan. I starting to get pessimistic and think that there is no way the skins will win any of their last games. PHI actually wants to make it to the playoffs and they will be tough to beat. The bengals are looking for any kind of win and will work hard to get one so if its a close game they might win like the rams. The 49ers should be a win for us but if we cant pressure the QB then they will beat us.

  27. Look, i’m sick of the clamoring for CB5. no disrespect, but JC is light years beyond him.
    The difference between the first half of the season and the second half?
    Running Game.
    The PA pass requires a running game to help out the line with the pass rush that they clearly cannot handle…ever since the running game fell off, the passing game has been horrific.

  28. Can we PLEASE give the Colt Brennan chants a rest please??? PLEASE. He’s NOT READY. He’ll get hammered behind this awesome o-line we have.

    Oh and Btw, Jansen sucks. Cut him like a piece of meat.

  29. Hey Matt,
    How about getting an interview with Vinny Cerrato. Ask him how he feels about Wilbon’s column in the Post. And see if he’ll concede that the team’s foibles on draft day are finally coming to a head.

  30. Cambell will be fine, these stupid calls for Brennan are ridiculous. Everyone has already stated why Brennan won’t make a difference so I’ll spare you. Just wanted to put in a post to show that most Skins fans actually are knowledgable about how the game works, and what needs to be fixed before Cambell can reach his full potential. He’s got a cannon.

    Matt, let’s hear what you think needs to be done. It’s OK to be brutally honest

  31. SKINS FAN through and through here. Here’s some brutal honesty: Our offensive and Defensive lines are just not good enough to take us anywhere. How come every other team sacks us left and right and we can’t even get pressure on an opposing QB when we blitz an extra man? It’s because the other team is better – more often than not.

    I’ll be hoping for the best and watching every play for the rest of the year, but REALITY is sinking in fast. Unless we have a COMPLETE turnaround somehow, I don’t see light at the end of the tunnel.

    HAIL! (always)

  32. I’m not convinced the DL problems arise from the talent…I think the lack of pressure is the result of coaching to stop the run first. When we look to take up linemen instead of get around them, the DL commits to be blocked and cannot put pressure on the QB. The solution has to be to let players like Andre Carter and Jason Taylor run free on the edges a little more and focus on creating pressure…we have the LB crew to make plays down the field if the gamble doesn’t work and the run breaks the line, plus it should generate actual pass rush.

  33. Actually 2 seconds should be enough time to get off a pass in the NFL.
    Campbell was geting his passes off quickly this game. He’s getting better.

    Does anyone really have the “Answer?”…Whatever works is what I’ll go with. It’s urgency TIME!

  34. Colt Brennan. Please.

  35. Several things come to mind that would help our situation. New O line, new D line and perhaps most important would be a sense of frickin urgency. Urgency by the coach and the players. Every time we get in the red zone regardless of how many points we are down our first play is a run up the middle or a draw. We drafted two receivers this year that are over 6’2″ tall. Has Zorn ever thought, “Hey its first down let’s not get cute or tough, how about smart. Lets throw the fade to one of the pilons in the back of the end zone to one of the rookies (over 6′ 2″) or to Cooley who caught this type of pass for 3 td’s last year.”

    All the offensive players have some sense of urgency minus one. Jason Campbell, he does not set his protections quickly or correctly. He doesn’t read all his receivers on any play (for you people that love him and think he does no wrong) watch him one time he looks at his number one option and then to a dump off. Some of you will say that this is because he doesn’t have time, to that I will say that I watch alot of football and I see alot of mediocre qb’s even on bad teams that throw the ball without hesitation. Take for example Kyle Orton (yes I am talking about Kyle Orton) I watched him on Sunday night football last weekend against the vikings. On three step drops, when he plants his third step he is throwing the ball. When he is in shotgun, the ball hits his hands, he takes one step back and fire’s it. We don’t have that because Campbell cannot think that quickly or he is too scared to make a mistake. Another problem is when he does have time he either over throws, under throws or hits mike sellers in the feet with the ball (like Sunday). He also has no fire, which a QB has to have because fire in a Qb is confidence. Look at Philip Rivers, you have to have that to be good in this league.

    We have seen that Colt has confidence and fire, why not give it a shot. Zorn chastised him for taking chances in pre-season, Campbell takes no chances and we score no points. Without taking chances in this league you are not going to score, guys are not going to be wide open and it seems to often that JC waits on people to be wide open. I am not for potentially throwing our season away but we need a shot in the arm just like last year. We had not thrown a td in several weeks when JC went down TC comes in and has a passer rating over a hundred and throws 6 or 7 td’s.

    If we are not in control of the game this weekend and have not scored at the half, it is time to give Colt a chance. We better find out what we have with him before we decide to throw cash at Campbell, who’s contract is up this year.

    And the Dline everyone else has covered sufficiently, the only one to keep is Demetric Evans otherwise start over.

    Frustrated with mediocre…hmm..hmm I mean Medium Redskins Football Fan

  36. CB5 does have a Quick Release…that ball comes out like a laser.

  37. Skins should beat the Bungles.

  38. Matt Ryan- Rookie 9-4 Great Defense

    Joe Flacco- Rookie 8-5 Ok Defense

    Jason Campbell- 4 years 7-6 Good Defense

    There is no excuse for why JC scrambles into pressure and throws it below the marker on all third downs. Refuses to use his legs. People say…”The line won’t block”….no duh, really? We’ll I guess that means he should make an adjustment right. Whatever- Please put in another QB who wants to win at any cost. I haven’t seen JC put his body on the line (willingly) since he got here. Quite frankly, I’m tired.

  39. “Oh yeah, I forgot”

    The 0-13 Lions have scored more points than us this season…..Go Figure. Another season wasted.

  40. Heart….
    Where is it? Who on the team has it?
    Portis, Randle El (in spurts), Samuels, Fletcher,Sellers, andSmoot. These guys are the only ones I can think of that actually play every play with desire. What happened to our other key players? Cooley, Moss, R. Thomas,Taylor( DE bust! Move him to LB!), Springs ( sitis out if he’s got a bruise/scratch or just doesn’t feel 100% ), and lastly Campbell.
    IMO, the lack of play from these guys really hurts the team.
    Maybe Campbell has the heart to play the game, but he doesn’t have the ability to make the quick descisions it takes to find the open receiver. He doesn’t read defenses correctly or sometimes even at all. The two passes that you guys refer to in Sundays game that were downfield were a little underthrown. Catchable yes. But he could’ve led the receivers a little further. I have always took up for Campbell in football discussions with my peers, but as of lately I see their point. I hate to see underthrown passes to the flats.
    As far as Colt goes, he is not ready. Put Campbell on the second team. Let Collins start. If he can’t win the next two, then put Colt in for a little experience.

    HAIL!!!

  41. Edit: I retract the statement about Moss. Now that I think of it he is one that plays with everything he has.

  42. Idiot Sylvester, first of all the Lions have no D so their mentality all year was to try and out score people since training camp. They only had two 6′ 3″ receivers. Dumb comparison. Willingly put kis body on the line? Running into or past defenders doesn’t show that? Guess that shows why you just watch a lot of football and don’t know a lot of it. What adjustment would you make behind a terrible line. Most teams with a terrible line just lose idiot. Good teams like the Giants, patriots, or even Titans have a good line so get your facts straight and stop being frustrated we don’t have time for it here.

  43. Honestly, what does this team have to lose. Just put the rook Colt Brennan in. The offense can’t get much worse, Campbell’s rookie contract is up in a season and he hasn’t done anything this season to prove that he’s worthy of a new contract. I DONT UNDERSTAND WHY ZORN IS MARRIED TO CAMPBELL. At least Colt gets the ball out of his arms quickly…

  44. Jason isn’t as bad as some say and isn’t as good as others say.

    Sometimes it’s not about stats but wins. When you’re in a rut, change is good.

    The team needs a jolt. Let Collins play the first half, and Colt the second half and see what happens.

    Rest Jason for the Eagles game.

  45. Jason would be great for the Ravens, Falcons, maybe some other team? He’s a good QB in the wrong system. I hope he does well here or somewhere else. Strong arm, athletic, hard worker, lota potential for the right team.

  46. I hope I’m wrong and instead JC kicks butt next GAME.

  47. For Derrick Jackson:
    Maybe you might be the idiot the Titans didnt have a line in the beginnning of the year i dont know if you recall but they werent winning as easily before Young was getting dropped hard, then collins comes in and that line starts blocking look you can pay players as much as you want but what our o-line has been showing me is that they dont want to protect campbell at all just look at the 1st half of the Ravens game and you will know exactly what i am talking about. I dont know if our line has something against him but one thing is for a fact they dont want to protect him remember last year how was it that Collins was barely touched in our run to the playoffs last year? Campbell does not have the leadership skill most of the fans on here think he does! you have to be ignorant to think that he actually has any in the first place if you cant yell at your line for not covering you….For example all good QBs get at there line when they are not on point (Peyton, Brady, Roethlisberger, Eli, Romo).

    I dont think any of you get it, honestly if you think that this guy Jason Campbell is good or not here some facts for those of you who think he is a great QB in the past 6 games Jason Campbell has a 5td 6int ratio now you put to think hmmmm wow this guy has been doing horrible our offense has no production now if we continue to play the way we have dont expect to win the bengals 49ers or the eagles……now in the point of view of basically all the analyst on ESPN we still have the chance to get in the playoffs with help of other teams losses and wins

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