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Need to Know: Redskins improving in takeaway department lately

Dec 22, 2014, 6:28 AM EDT

Kerrigan-forced-fumble-Eagles

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, December 22, six days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

Three and out—Redskins by the numbers

1. Statistics are very useful but sometimes you have to take a closer look to see what the story really is. One of the storylines advanced by fans and some in the media is that Jay Gruden tried to make it easy on Robert Griffin III with his play calling. The Redskins ran 29 times and Griffin attempted 23 passes. The numbers were what they were but a closer look reveals that Gruden may have really been more pass happy. Griffin scrambled five times, so five of those rushing attempts were actually pass play calls. He was sacked twice so those are to more pass play calls, making the play call numbers 30 passes and 24 runs. Then look at the end of the game and you see five Alfred Morris runs to kill the clock before Kai Forbath’s game-winning field goal. That fluffed up the rushing attempt total.

2. One number that didn’t lie for the Redskins against the Eagles was their third-down conversion rate. It remained awful. They were two of nine on third down, a 22 percent conversion rate. They haven’t been over 33 percent on third down since Week 9. For the season they have converted 31.3 percent. An offense simply can’t maintain drives if it is walking off the field after two out of every three third downs.

3. While we’re on numbers, can we please just stop referring to a team’s “ranking” on offense and defense by using total yards gained and given up. The Redskins are 12th in yards gained and 13th in “total defense”. But they are 27th in both points scored and points allowed and have been outscored by 110 points. They are not even close to being in the top half of the league in terms of the effectiveness of either their offense or defense. There isn’t necessarily one number that’s better to use that’s not overly complex but just don’t be fooled by what can be highly misleading “total” numbers.

Out: One thing the Redskins have been able to do late is take the ball away from the opposition. After having nine takeaways in their first 10 games they have nine in their last five games. Some of it is luck catching up with them. Usually over the course of a season the fumbling team will recover the ball about half of the time and the other team will get it half the time. In the first 10 games the Redskins recovered only six of 15 opponents’ fumbles. In the last five games they have recovered 6 of 10. That’s 12 of 25 on the season, just about right. The interception record is still bad. They have picked off six of 485 opposition passing attempts, 1.2 percent; you should be able to stumble into more picks than that.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Off day, no media availability

Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 6; 2015 NFL Draft 129; 2015 NFL season opening Sunday 265

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. I’ll answer all questions as soon as I can get to them. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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  1. mr.moneylover - Dec 22, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    Overall we still a bad team defense was still leaving players wide open and they still given up over 20 points a game ….the biggest improvement was robert dropback and getting rid of the ball and bein decisive wit his decision making with an upgrade o-line and some film studying he can be up there with the best but he gotta put the work in this offseason not just physically but mentally…last off-season he didnt have jay gruden offseason to work on until OTA but now when he work with his wide receivers and terry shea in the offseason he will learn the game better from a mental aspect…

    • mr.moneylover - Dec 22, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      I ment playbook

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