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Need to Know: One stat that shows the Redskins badly need help stopping the run

Apr 20, 2016, 5:02 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 20, 8 days before the NFL Draft.


—The Redskins last played a game 101 days ago. It will be 145 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: 2016 NFL draft 8; Rookie minicamp 23; Redskins training camp starts 99

Hot topic

I thought a lot about the wisdom of taking Alabama LB Reggie Ragland with the Redskins’ first-round pick in the mock draft I did on CSN Mid Atlantic yesterday. He is a classic run stuffer and the Redskins need all the help they can get when it comes to stopping the run.

But the knock on Ragland is that he isn’t very good against the pass. Many analysts believe that he will be at best a liability in coverage and at worst a major issue against passes that a defense would have to work around. In a passing league, can they afford a one-dimensional player when that dimension does not involve defending against the pass?

But then I remembered a number I ran across while doing some research a couple of months ago. I wanted to see how many yards the Redskins gave up on first-down runs against them. So I went to the handy Game Play Finder on and pulled up the numbers. I didn’t think that the Redskins would rate very well but I was surprised to find out that they were the worst in the league in that stat.

The Redskins gave up 5.03 yards per rushing attempt on first down, the only team to give up over five yards a pop. The Saints’ historically bad defense was the second worst here, giving up 4.84 per attempt. For comparison, the best team in the league in yards per first-down rushing attempt was the Seahawks at 2.98 yards.

While no one number indicates a huge problem, this stat is particularly alarming. It means that when the Redskins had their base defense on the field, which should be at least competent at stopping the run, they were the worst in the league at run stopping.

Given this, I think it’s easy to justify leaning towards stopping the run when picking new talent for the defense. If Scot McCloughan believes that Ragland can help them stop the run, especially on first down, and can drop into coverage and hold his own when the other team passes, I’d say grab him if he’s there.

Stat of the day

The other side of the coin of the first-down rushing stat discussed above also was bad for the Redskins last year. They averaged 3.28 yards per rushing attempt on first down, the worst in the league.

In case you missed it

  1. skinsgame - Apr 20, 2016 at 5:20 AM

    That should squash the notion that letting Knighton walk was a bad move. His wheelhouse happened to be the thing the Redskins were the worst at. Some of that blame nigh belong to scheme or coaching but Knightons play has been criticized as an impediment to the LB’s he was supposed to free up.

    On another note, I’m a little surprised the team hasn’t brought in Dominique Easley to kick the tires.

    • Rich Tandler - Apr 20, 2016 at 7:46 AM

      I can’t find the tweet about Easley I sent out earlier this week but Easley reportedly doesn’t like football and is a locker room cancer. Clearly not a McCloughan type of player. Actually, seeing that he has drawn zero interest, he may not be anyone’s type of player.

      • bowlregard - Apr 20, 2016 at 5:51 PM

        I heard the Dolphins were interested.

  2. troylok - Apr 20, 2016 at 6:24 AM

    I knew Barry’s defense was going to put this pressure on the ILB’s. He wants his d-linemen to shoot the gap and that makes it easy for the defense to run right by them and into the arms of the ILB’s. Maybe before I would draft a limited player I would consider coming out with my big OLB’s playing inside on running downs.

  3. matt - Apr 20, 2016 at 6:27 AM

    I agree with the thought process but just not With Ragland when you watch his tape he makes no plays and benefits from a great d line. He’s very slow and only tackles when un blocked

    • Trey Gregory - Apr 21, 2016 at 2:13 AM

      I would just rather take a run stuffing DT and call it a day over a linebacker who can’t cover. Makes sense to me.

  4. abanig - Apr 20, 2016 at 7:47 AM

    This is why Knighton is no longer on the team and Kennan Robinson

    • colorofmyskinz - Apr 20, 2016 at 9:03 AM

      You are exactly correct!! I agree both were a great disappointment.

    • hail74 - Apr 20, 2016 at 11:31 AM

      Add to that Goldson. Two of the longest runs we gave up this year, Ingrams 70yarder and Martins 40, were the result of his poor technique. He hit them both at line of scrimmage but didn’t use his arms, just his shoulder.

      • abanig - Apr 20, 2016 at 4:37 PM

        Yeah, he was as bad as Landry as a form tackler

  5. winskins - Apr 20, 2016 at 7:52 AM

    League worst on running first downs, both on offence and on defence. To me that means McCloughan needs to draft a bunch of big bodies on both sides of the ball. We have to win more of the battles in the trenches.

  6. sidepull - Apr 20, 2016 at 8:01 AM

    Murphy up in weight moving from OLB to DE. I do think now they will draft a LB but not before they draft a NT/Interior Lineman. This game is won in the trenches. Redskins couldn’t stop the run and couldn’t run. If they can just shore up the middle of both lines with solid play it would work wonders.

  7. bangkokben - Apr 20, 2016 at 8:47 AM

    Great stats! What is even more alarming is the fact that last year, the Redskins didn’t face elite running backs within the division. So most of the damage likely occurred after the first two games and outside the division.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Apr 20, 2016 at 10:05 AM

      Remember Atlanta?

      We made Devonta Freeman’s season.

      • bangkokben - Apr 20, 2016 at 10:12 AM

        I do. Atlanta completely exposed Knighton — and the Redskins — as he was used as an extra blocker creating huge lanes in the zone blocking scheme. He couldn’t move laterally and the rest of the team was sealed behind him. (That was my take of the game.) I was hoping it would just be that game at the time but that was the end of the solid run defense. Compton taking over in the inside helped it get to mediocre from horrid but before Atlanta, it looked as if the defense could be good.

  8. Bryan - Apr 20, 2016 at 9:04 AM

    I know what the stat says and our run defense wasn’t good but what the stat doesn’t show is was offense in a normal base offense and what I mean by that is after first couple games teams found if they spread skins out there defense wasn’t as good no matter who we had in game nor down and distance. Also I think the philosophy of having olb crash inside a lot more killed us. I’ve never seen Kerrigan crash inside as much as last year and I doubt he would just do so. So by no means am I justifying our crappy run defense but sometime stats don’t tell everything . With that being said I wouldn’t touch Ragland. We have 3 good not great ilb that know how to play together and seem to be decent in passing downs. Why not bulk up dline and help them out more verse a ilb with no dline. Just doesn’t make sense to me. Why u think Ray Lewis was so good for so many years.

    • sidepull - Apr 20, 2016 at 9:14 AM


  9. smotion55 - Apr 20, 2016 at 10:51 AM

    Ragland is a newer Riley, and Riley is faster. I don’t want either. Compton, Foster , Spaight and whoever. D-line help is bigger need . D Tackle could be best player availble that can push pocket in the 1st and 2nd round so take 1 and be done with it. Then get a Center , Safety and another D-lineman in the early rounds.

  10. greed - Apr 20, 2016 at 12:20 PM

    this is why im so confused on why they just initially let potroast walk until the patriots showed interest in signing him and for those who say well P.R. Was a bumb ok he wasnt that much a bumb that they made a push at the end, he was playing in new scheme and he and baker admitted he was alittle out of shape 1st half of season due to his illness in offseason , then for gruden to say that they might be demphasizing noseguard cause u in base only 20% of time is crazy as stat show on 1st down they were bad against run is that not when u usually in base package then u run a 3-4 the NG is probably the most important position in that scheme to say u can just throw any linemen in there for 15-20 plays is crazy that was the problem in 2014 , i hope a Dtackle is high on their draft board because as a fan im confused by this line of thinking

  11. kenlinkins - Apr 20, 2016 at 12:34 PM

    Rich, If the Redskins were last in the NFL stopping the run on first down but much improved on getting stops on 3rd down where most team pass, why do so many fans think that the Redskins pass rush and DB’s require so many up grades! Is this a case of an AVG being blown up due to 3 or 4 long runs? Many the sub packages were much better than most fans know? Maybe the Redskins were the best in the NFL vs the run on 2nd downs? Something just dosn’t add up.

    • Rich Tandler - Apr 20, 2016 at 12:57 PM

      Don’t forget about second down. The Redskins gave up first downs on 33.9% of their second-down plays, ninth-worst in the league.

      A few long runs may have skewed the numbers some but over 16 games it’s not going to be that pronounced. And most teams give up some so it evens out.

    • greed - Apr 20, 2016 at 3:14 PM

      imo i think people are looking at the depth of the secondary especially with culliver out and also remember how injured the secondary was throughout the season how many times did the same two cb’s start games together? The safety spot seem like stopgap spot d. Hall on his last legs , jarret still hurt , gholsun was a improvement over clark but it wasnt by leaps and bounds not to mention he still on the market so who fill that spot ? Bruton who is 30 and could crack denver startingline up in six season or duke who played what 2,3 games in 2yrs he extremely injury prone or just unlucky either way at this point u cant exactly count on him, as far as pash rush their were too many games where the pressure was nonexistent if gallete can remaim healthy and smith can build on his end of the year play the pass rush should be improved and more consistent on a game to game basis

    • bangkokben - Apr 20, 2016 at 4:11 PM

      You don’t need stats to notice that there wasn’t consistent pressure — especially against the top tier quarterbacks — Rodgers, Manning, Brady.

  12. Ronald Bowman - Apr 20, 2016 at 6:00 PM

    They need a atheletic NT what they been missing since switching to the 3-4.To make that defense work you must have one.

    • colorofmyskinz - Apr 20, 2016 at 11:33 PM

      1000000% agree here! We need to buckle down and spend on both NT and Center. A must. Archives

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