Dec 29, 2014, 6:18 AM EDT
Here is what you need to know on this Monday, December 29, 122 days before the first round of the 2015 NFL draft.
Three and out—Third downs, pass defense Redskins’ big issues
1. We’ll spend a lot of the next few weeks doing an autopsy on the 2014 season and looking at what the Redskins need to do to improve. But you don’t have to dig too deep to see that third down conversions were a big issue for the offense. Yesterday they converted three of 12, which inched their rate for the season up every so slightly. But they were still 30th in the NFL at 31.5 percent. If you want to figure out why the Redskins were 13th in yards gained but 27th in points scored, this is a big factor. They would move it some but drives would stall.
2. Defensively the big issue is pass defense. Opposing passers have lit up the Redskins with passer rating of 108.3. That means that the composite quarterback the Redskins faced in 2014 was better than Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. If assigned to an individual quarterback that rating would have ranked third in the NFL. Communication issues, fundamental mistakes, and subpar talent at safety, and an inconsistent pass rush are all factors.
3. The Cowboys pulled off a surprise onside kick in the second quarter. “We got the look we wanted,” said Dallas coach Jason Garrett. Presumably that “look” was seeing the Redskins special teams unit lined up on the other side. That was two successful surprise onside kicks that the last three weeks. Add in a fake on an extra point that led to a two-point conversion by the Rams and you have a team that’s is just not paying enough attention. Such trick plays should work every once in a while, not every time they are tried.
Out: Back to the first point, another reason the Redskins rank near the bottom in points scored is that the defense and special teams didn’t contribute any return touchdowns. Redskins opponents had seven return touchdowns this year. You don’t have to be a math major to figure out that put Washington at a major disadvantage. If you are perhaps deficient in talent while rebuilding one way to make up for it is to be opportunistic. I’m not sure what the opposite of that is, but whatever it is would be an apt description for the 2014 Redskins.
—Today’s schedule: Open locker room 9 a.m.; Jay Gruden news conference 3 p.m.
—Days until: 2015 NFL Draft 122; 2015 NFL season opening Sunday 258
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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