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Ballhawks wanted at Redskins Park

Feb 11, 2016, 12:32 PM EDT


Plenty will be written over the next six months or so about what the Redskins need to do to take the next step and become true Super Bowl contenders. But the biggest factor in determining if they rise up NFL power rankings or slide back into their losing ways is their ability to take the ball away on defense and to protect it on offense.

Washington did pretty well in turnover margin in 2015 they finished at a plus-five, with 27 takeaways and 22 giveaways. That was tied for 10th in the NFL. As Scot McCloughan tries to build the team’s talent base, the Redskins will have to continue to be on the plus side of the turnover ratio in order to stay competitive.

Yesterday we looked at fumble recoveries. Today we’ll look at interceptions by the defense, how they performed in 2015 and what they’ll need to do going forward. Later we’ll look the giveaway side of the equation.

The Redskins intercepted 11 passes in 2015, tied for 21st in the NFL. Three players, Bashaud Breeland, Will Blackmon, and Perry Riley, tied for the team lead with two picks apiece. Is that good? Well, 47 other players had more interceptions than anyone on the Redskins did so you can figure that out for yourself.

How much did the interceptions help the Redskins? Here is their record broken down by the number of interceptions they had in the game:


So as we saw with fumble recoveries yesterday, they were able to get along fine in games where they did not get an interception. Only when they got multiple picks did the results show on the scoreboard.

Perhaps one of the reasons that interceptions were not much of a factor for the Redskins is that they didn’t do much with them when they got them. They went through 15 regular season games without getting an interception and then driving for a touchdown. They finally did it in the meaningless season finale in Dallas.

In all, they scored one touchdown and two field goals on drives following interceptions plus Dashon Goldson had a pick-six against the Saints. Add it up and that’s 20 points generated off of interceptions.

Compare that to the best team in the league in maximizing interceptions, the Chiefs. They were second in the league with 22 picks. They returned four of them for touchdowns, drove for eight more TD’s and four field goals on possessions that stated with INT’s. I’ll do the math for you; they scored exactly 100 points off of interceptions. If you want to know why they were able to rank ninth in scoring while ranking 27th in yards gained, there’s your answer.

It should be noted that the Redskins did have a critical interception. At FedEx Field the Giants were threatening to get back into a game the Redskins led 17-0 as they drove into Washington territory. But on third down at the four, Quinton Dunbar picked off Eli Manning’s pass in the end zone to kill the drive.

As noted yesterday, the Redskins are likely to recover fewer opponents’ fumbles than they did last year due to the element of luck that is involved in fumble recoveries. If they are going to stay around the top 10 in takeaways, something that would help them in their effort to stay competitive while Scot McCloughan rebuilds the roster, they probably will need more interceptions.

One thing McCloughan could do is add a ball hawk or two the secondary. Of the secondary members likely to return in 2016, Bashaud Breeland has four interceptions in two seasons, Dashon Goldson has 2 in the last three years and DeAngelo Hall has not picked off a pass since 2013. Maybe Breeland can snag a few more (he did drop some that were in his hands last year) and Hall can regain the form that saw him pick off a total of eight passes in 2012 and 2013. Still, finding a draft pick or free agent with a knack for making interceptions would be great.

There are two other things that could help in the interception department. One is an improved pass rush. Of the top five teams in interceptions last year, four were in the top 12 in sacks. And scoring more points and playing with a lead forces quarterbacks to throw more and to take more chances.

  1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Feb 11, 2016 at 12:57 PM

    Our secondary was a hot mess last year thanks to the injuries. But the talent level needs improvement, too.

    We could use another Breeland (aka 4th round pick that pans out, big-time!).

    • Trey Gregory - Feb 12, 2016 at 3:45 AM

      I think there are some guys that will go after round 3 who can turn into pretty good DBs, but only after a couple seasons to develop. Obviously that’s really hard to predict. If anyone knows that they will turn into good players they would probably be drafted earlier.

      Of course any team would love to get a player like Breeland in the 4th. Any guy, at any position, who is drafted in the 4th and can start his rookie season is a great find. But it’s dangerous to rely on that as the whole plan.

      I agree that we need to focus on the DL. I hope we go DL in the first or ILB if there aren’t any DLinemen left worthy of the pick. But man, wouldn’t it be nice to finally get some solid Safties? Or just a solid secondary in general?

      I personally really like Chris Culliver. He was hurt most of the year and didn’t do well. I think that left Washington fans with a bad taste. Especially if they didn’t pay much attention to him in San Francisco. But Culliver can ball. I think he (and Breeland) need to be allowed to play bump and run, but Culliver can still play well in Barry’s system. I get the ACL thing, but I hope we don’t give up on him unless we land a guy who is just obviously the future. Having Culliver and Breeland would allow us to focus on the line and ILBs, maybe a safety, then grab that 4th-5th round corner (or two) to develop. It seems like we would have to resign Blackmon and some other reliable vets, who come cheap, to make that plan happen though. I just honestly don’t see another way unless we go corner in the first couple rounds and maybe overspend in free agency.

      And I don’t mean to overlook Dunbar. I just don’t know how much we can rely on that not being a fluke. It would scare me if he was our plan. Loves him, loved the story, but that would be scary.

  2. Raymond Martinez - Feb 11, 2016 at 2:27 PM

    Need to draft solid DT….our dline needs to get younger to attack that dallas oline…we need to improve front 7..and do better job at stopping the run..

    • sidepull - Feb 12, 2016 at 8:12 AM

      I am with you Ray. DL. This year there are a bunch and a good DL can help the DB’s out. You can have your choice of big ol run stuffers, which we could use but I am more interested in seeing a big azs DL that can apply the pressure. Right now, I like Kenny Clark, Sheldon Rankins and who knows if Scot would take a guy like Nkemdiche. But the re is no gotta have C in the first round (and I think that’s a big need too) that will get addressed this year. But as for the 21st pick? DL all the way.

  3. robert herrera - Feb 11, 2016 at 6:00 PM

    The Redskins need to draft a safety and solid cornerback. Karl Joseph from West Virginia is a great prospect. Kendall fuller from Virginia tech.

  4. John - Feb 11, 2016 at 7:16 PM

    We need a defensive lineman who makes the other teams offense miserable. Someone they have to account for on every play. A real.pain in their ass!

    • robert herrera - Feb 12, 2016 at 7:04 AM

      One of them would be Kenny Clarke from ucla and linebacker deone Jones. A hard hitting safety from West Virginia name Karl Joseph.

  5. Armani arroyo - Feb 12, 2016 at 12:46 AM

    Let’s stop this crap and put this into perspective OK!they need to get rid of theses aging none producing players and start to look for better talented players develop the ones you do have and gruden is not the answer to coaching the skins(Tampa)you need a coach like Jimmy Johnson(Dallas) who can get the best and fire up his players to perform at an elite level period!next tell the owner to play his part and let the staff do there job without his breathing down there necks.I love he skins,but it hurts to see the lose like they have.Rg3 get rid of that bum to an AFC team he truely sucks what a waste of time should have taken Andrus luck that year better fit.

    • boysheadcoach - Feb 12, 2016 at 9:04 AM

      you don’t stick a team in the microwave and get instant results like your hotdog
      New coach; 2 years to adjust to a new system, will lose some of the young talent to FA because there is no consistency.
      Jimmy Johnsons don’t grow on the imaginary low hanging fruit tree
      cant trade RGIII to AFC, he’s a FA when let go…………….

    • Trey Gregory - Feb 12, 2016 at 10:24 AM

      I mean, I can’t even start to explain why this is the most moronic post I’ve ever seen. I’ll just point out that we couldn’t have taken Andrew Luck because he was drafted before our pick. Luck went #1 overall, we picked #2 overall. So you basically have no idea what you’re talking about.

      I mean, I think we should have drafted Joe Montana. Doesn’t matter that he’d already won 4 Super Bowls and retired. Fire Gruden because Shannohan and Allen didn’t draft Joe Montana.

  6. ashhole420 - Feb 12, 2016 at 10:04 PM

    i would really really love to see the Redskins land vikings SS Harrison Smith, he is a hard hitting, smash mouth, old school knock you on your a$$ saftey mixed with really fast play making ball hawk.

    also would love to see them land FS Eric Berry after all he went thru past few years to re-emerge as the NFL’s best and most impactful player in the secondary.

    If the bills trade or cut Shady Mccoy the Redskins should snatch him up. he would be the perfect fit for this offense and would put up monster numbers with the talent already in place on offense.

    • Trey Gregory - Feb 13, 2016 at 1:15 PM

      Wellllll Harrison Smith in not a free agent until next year and there’s very little chance they don’t resign him before then. He’s a franchise type player in my opinion. I would love for the Redskins to sign Kam Chancelor! But he’s also under contract. You have to find guys who are free agents for this game to work.

      As far as LeSean McCoy goes. Wellll, he’s probably about to go to prison. If not, I could see the commishioner’s exempt list for a year. So I doubt that’s going to happen.

      Maybe not McCoy so much any more, but a guy like Harrison Smith and Eric Berry are going to cost a few Brink Trucks. They’re going to sign some of the more lucrative free agent contracts (not Smith but he would if he was hypothetically a free agent). McCloughan made his free agent strategy pretty clear. He, generally, tries to avoid guys with off the field issues and most definitely doesn’t want to go after guys that will fetch top dollar. Archives

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