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Need to Know: Numbers the 2015 Redskins must improve

Jun 25, 2015, 5:44 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, June 25, 35 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

Nickel coverage

Earlier this week I looked at some reasons why the Redskins might be better than many think they will be this year. Here are five numbers that will need to improve if that is going to happen.

Rushing attempts—There is some cause and effect here that might be hard to sort out. Just calling more than the 25 runs a game they did last year won’t get it done. They need to be able to run effectively and the defense and special teams will have to do their part and keep games close. If the Redskins are running the ball 30 times per game, that will be a sign that things are going well.

Net passing yards per attempt—This is yards per attempt minus yards lost to sacks. When the quarterbacks could stay upright, the Redskins were pretty efficient passing the ball. They average 8.2 yards per attempt, fourth in the NFL and better than renowned passing teams like the Broncos, Colts, and Saints. But when you factor in sacks the Redskins averaged just 6.7 yards, 12th in the NFL. An improved offensive line will certainly help but backs and tight ends need to do their part in pass protection and the quarterbacks need to get rid of the ball.

Opponent passer rating—Passer rating is far from a perfect way to gauge a pass defense but when it’s as bad as the Redskins’ was last year it means something. Quarterbacks had a field day against the Redskins last year. They compiled a passer rating of 108.3, the worst in the NFL by a healthy margin. To put it in perspective, the average QB that faced the Redskins had a better rating than Ben Roethlisberger 103.3 passer rating) or Peyton Manning (101.5). You can blame the defensive backs if you want and they deserve their share of it but it takes a total team effort to put up numbers that bad.

Third down conversions—This is not any secret to Redskins fans but it’s important to point out that they aren’t that far away from being decent in this category. They would need about one more third-down conversion per game to be average and just a few more per month on top of that to be in the top 10. The best offenses in the NFL fail to convert on third down over half of the time. It’s really a matter of timing and converting that third down when you really need it.

Defensive yards per play—They gave up 5.85 yards per play, 27th in the NFL. Washington actually did pretty well on first down, giving up 4.96 yards per play, fourth best in the NFL. But on second down they were 31st yielding 6.47 yards per play and they were 29th on third down, giving up 6.77. To compare, the Seahawks had the best third-down defense, giving up just 4.19 yards per play.


—It’s been 179 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 80 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 35; Preseason opener @ Browns 49; final cuts 72

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. troylok - Jun 25, 2015 at 7:24 AM

    We couldn’t run on offense and we couldn’t stop the pass on defense. Easy, Peasy – we should have that fixed by next Thursday…

  2. captblood3000 - Jun 25, 2015 at 8:05 AM

    How often did opposing teams convert on third down?

  3. xskulldog - Jun 25, 2015 at 9:17 AM

    Great analysis Rich…All five points need to show improvement if the Redskins plan to get out of the Eastern Division Cellar.

    On the rushing attempts, yes we need to get back to the John Riggins numbers with the hogs.

    Net Yards Passing per attempt…An improved offensive line should help. And I like the fact that you did not throw RGIII under the bus.

    Opponent Passer Rating…agreed, it took a total team effort to stink up the field the way they did last year.

    Third Down Conversions were non-existent in the Red Zone last year, got to improve here or heads will rolls.

    Defensive yards per play, last year’s defense could not get anyone off the field. The longer the played, the worst they got. Whatever happened to half time adjustments?

    One thing to add…Special Teams needs to show significant improvement. No more blocked kicks or kick returns for easy touchdowns.

    Keep up the good work Rich, HTTR!

  4. bangkokben - Jun 25, 2015 at 10:16 AM

    That opponent passer rating was a burr in my britches. Fix that and you fix some of your 3rd down woes.

    • kenlinkins - Jun 25, 2015 at 2:09 PM

      Agreed! Out of all the stats, that one made me say WOW! For many reasons the Redskins defense made most QB’s they faced look like Sonny J in 1967! That is a must round around stat for 2015.

      • bangkokben - Jun 25, 2015 at 4:44 PM

        Every time I thought about defending Haslet – great game plan at Dallas last year – I stumbled on that stat and reversed my position. Sure injuries hurt the defense last year but the defense was consistently awful against the pass – the Dallas game was an outlier. Moreover, fantasy points against by position show that the Redskins defense was 3rd worst against tight-ends, 2nd worst against wide receivers, and not surprisingly the worst against quarterbacks. This knowledge helped take the sting out of the some of those losses for me as I won small bits of cash on FanDuel.

  5. Trey Gregory - Jun 25, 2015 at 1:31 PM

    One of the most important things Rich just said, that TEs and RBs need to do their part in pass protection. I keep seeing so many people talking about Niles Paul as if we’re completely covered if Reed goes down. We’re not. TEs aren’t supposed to be WRs that line up funny, there’s so much more to being a TE than catching balls and fantasy numbers. Paul is undersized, and can’t block. I have no idea why they converted him from a WR, but that’s basically what he is. A WR pretending to be a TE. Everyone wants our Oline to get better and has the linemen under the microscope. Well, TEs, RBs, and FBs are all a part of the Oline too. We need better blocking TEs.

    • bowlregard - Jun 25, 2015 at 3:59 PM

      We have to have faith the coaches won’t put him in a position where he can’t contribute. A lot of TEs are that in name only, but are really large slot receivers. From that position Paul would be called upon to block few linemen, but more often DBs and maybe ILBs.

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jun 25, 2015 at 4:35 PM

      I recall Paul was viewed as a great blocking WR that they envisioned being utilized similar to the former NE TE Hernandez. Shanahan referred to him as a potential Shannon Sharpe which I’m sure it being a comment he’d like to take back by now. That’s at least how I recall it being reported. He has always been special team asset which has kept him around this long.

    • bangkokben - Jun 25, 2015 at 4:36 PM

      It has been reported that Paul has bulked up quite a bit from last year. Some of these reports have suggested it has been due to the new strength and conditioning coach and/or suggested it had to do with the ‘skins new power blocking mind set. Paul was not good on the edge last year but the others weren’t any better. Shanahan moved Paul because his rookie year he was so such a good blocker at wide receiver and he wasn’t impressed with the tight ends.

    • captblood3000 - Jun 26, 2015 at 8:40 AM

      I remember Jerry Smith, a WR playing TE. Smith learned to block.

  6. Skulb - Jun 25, 2015 at 6:38 PM

    This article about covers it. I knew the pass defense was terrible last year but not quite that terrible. Archives

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