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Need to Know: Redskins by the numbers—Fixing third-quarter woes

Jul 6, 2016, 5:03 AM EDT

Jordan-Reed-fumble-vs-Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 6, 22 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 178 days ago. It will be 68 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 9; Preseason opener @ Falcons 36; Final roster cut 59

The Redskins by the numbers

Minus-6—The Redskins’ turnover margin in the third quarter

During the season there was plenty of talk about the Redskins’ problems in the third quarter. When the season ended it turned out to be their worst quarter as far as scoring margin. They were outscored by 39 points in the third quarter and were up by a combined 48 points in the other three quarters and overtime.

There was plenty of talk about halftime adjustments (which are a myth since teams make adjustments all the time, quarter to quarter, series to series, play to play). But you don’t have to get into the coaches’ heads to see what the problem was.

Their turnover margin in the third quarter was minus-6. That is a sure fire way to create a deficit that quarter. In the rest of the game the margin was plus-11. The Redskins committed 10 giveaways in the third quarter and 12 during the rest of the game. I would point to that as the reason why they were outscored in the third quarter. Not that they shouldn’t look at what they may or may not have adjusted during the five minutes or so they get in the locker room at halftime but the plans are meaningless if they don’t hold on to the ball.

23—The number of years it has been since the Redskins made the playoffs in consecutive seasons

How relevant is this to 2016, as the Redskins have a chance to stop that skid? On the one hand, it’s in the past and it has no actual bearing on what is taking place today. But it’s also an indicator that the franchise, under the ownership of Jack Kent Cooke, John Kent Cooke, and Dan Snyder has been able to assemble an organization that is capable of piecing together a playoff run here and there but incapable of building anything that lasts more than a season.

Will the presence of Scot McCloughan for two offseasons be enough to change all of that? It could and we’re about to find out.

7.0—The Redskins’ average net gain per pass play

This takes into account yardage lost due to sacks. Only five other teams had a better number in this category. Of the top eight teams in this stat, six made the playoffs and all but the Redskins and Bengals were in the top 10 in total offense.

This will be an interesting stat to watch as the season goes on. If they improve, that likely means that the pass blocking, which was solid last year (sack percentage 4.5, 5th in the NFL), is maintaining and that the coaches are continuing to encourage Kirk Cousins to be more aggressive in the depth of his throws. Those factors will lead to good things for the overall effectiveness of the Washington offense.

In case you missed it 

  1. redskins12thman - Jul 6, 2016 at 5:27 AM

    One cannot over-emphasize the importance of protecting the quarterback / minimizing turnovers on offense and applying pressure on the quarterback / forcing turnovers on defense. I hope these points are emphasized during training camp and the regular season as they were last year. If this happens, it should help the Redskins make the playoffs again. HTTR!

  2. wvredskins - Jul 6, 2016 at 9:02 AM

    This kinda irritated me this morning as I was drinking my morning coffee before work. I was watching NFL HQ and it had Charlie Casserly, and Jamie Dukes and some guy I am not to familiar with. But they said we have the worst defense in the division, even worst then the Cowboys. It really made me mad at first but then I started to think about it and I believe this will only add fuel to the fire. You dont think the def players will see this and not get hyped up? Casserly said something along the lines that Chris Baker is an “AVERAGE” Dlineman! I kinda chuckled at that statement. I mean yes our dline is a quote on quote a “weakness”, there no denying that, so people say at least. Casserly said something about us not having a nose tackle of course and that will hurt us. Blah Blah Blah. Well our coaches arent worried. Our GM isnt worried. I would love to see this Dline crew turn it upside down and turn it into a strength and Chris Baker shows out with it being his contract year! I think Chris had an above “Average year” last year if you ask me with him having 6 sacks and at times seemed dominant, especially in short yardage situations. I believe this Dline will only benefit from an approved secondary. And hopefully they can approve on the run, which is what I think is our true weakness. Everytime Jamie Dukes talks about the Redskins, it just seems it is always negative. He was proved wrong last year about Kirk Cousins, lets see if the Dline and Defense can prove him wrong this year. Keep Doubting and keep adding fuel to the fire!! Rant over. HTTR

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jul 6, 2016 at 10:11 AM

      I remember how bad we looked in the 2nd quarter of the Packers playoff game.

      What happened is they trapped our nickel defense on the field with their hurry-up and gashed it for big runs and passes.

      I’m sure GM McGlue and the gang were more focused on fixing that than NT in the base 3-4.
      ~

      • wvredskins - Jul 6, 2016 at 10:31 AM

        AMEN! instead of getting a true nose tackle they want d lineman that can play across the board so we dont get stuck in situations like that.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 6, 2016 at 2:04 PM

          I agree, completely, with what you’re saying. But every team wants a versitile guy who can play 3 downs at every position. Let’s not forget the Super Bowl champs, and a historically good defense, had a true nose tackle anchoring their defense.

          Also, there were versitile DLinemen prospects in the draft. There’s no way of knowing if they’ll be good players but they’re very good prospects we could have grabbed if that’s what Scot wanted. But he chose to focus on cover guys instead of pass rushers and run stoppers. Just keep that in mind. It’s not an insult to Scot’s process, but a statement about it.

          I don’t think a lot of people understand what he’s trying to build. They’re stuck in the 70s, 80s, and even 90s where these things were more important. People say, “it’s a passing league” ad nauseam but still hype up run games and run defenses. In reality, run stuffers and guys who play in the middle are less valuable than pass rushers and cover guys, especially on the edge, in the modern NFL. It’s better to have a stout middle AND the great edge guys, but if you have to chose, go with the latter.

          So Dukes and Charlie probably weren’t wrong saying we could use better guys on the interior line. I don’t expect them to be very good. But the point is: it doesn’t matter nearly as much as everything else. No GM can fill all the holes of a really bad roster all at once. So McCloughan chose to fill the more important holes. Hopefully they stick and we can focus on shoring up the middle in the coming seasons.

          Side note: Bang brought up a really good point about how fixing the secondary could improve the line play in another article. We say stuff like that all the time but his numbers were hard to argue with. Something worth thinking about.

      • redskins12thman - Jul 6, 2016 at 11:53 AM

        Who are the 11 defenders the Redskins hope to have on the field when the opponent’s offense shifts to no huddle no substitution mode?

        • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jul 6, 2016 at 1:54 PM

          We’ll see!

          But I bet Su’a Cravens is one they’re hoping will be in there.

          As for the front 3, maybe Ioannidis? Or Kendall Reyes?

          What is clear is Chris Baker is the only starter from last year’s front 3 who was deemed worthy.
          ~

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 6, 2016 at 2:21 PM

          Kerrigan, Baker, Paea, Francois, Galette, Compton, Cravens, Hall, Norman, Breeland, Fuller.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 6, 2016 at 2:13 PM

      I love Jamie Dukes. One of my favorite sports commentators. It’s hard to blame a guy for being down on a franchise that’s been in the dumps for decades. Many fans and analysts alike are taking a “I’ll believe it when I see it,” approach to free agency.

      But I was listening to a show with him and Lance Meadow on satellite radio after the draft. Dukes was down on Washington because of the OLine back then. His quote, “They need a tackle.” It took me back a bit. The OLine is one of the stronger units on the team and Jamie knows Olines. So I hit him up on Twitter and asked how he could be so low on Moses. Moses did have a good season overall. After some time (I assume he looked into it a bit) he admitted Moses was better than he initially thought. I think he watched an early game and wasn’t impressed. To be fair, Moses and Scherff improved dramatically as the season went on.

      So my point: these guys don’t follow individual teams as much as we do. They watch one or two games and passively pay attention to all 32 teams then are asked to give an opinion for entertainment purposes. They probably don’t know half the moves made in the offseason. But they’re reasonable once they dig a little deeper. Can’t take what they say too seriously unless it’s about star players. Better to pay attention to Tarik and Rich for these kinds of things. They follow the team much closer.

  3. RussianBreadMaker - Jul 6, 2016 at 10:59 AM

    Anyone else find it difficult to read the titles of the articles with ‘Need to Know’ before EVERY SINGLE ONE?

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jul 6, 2016 at 1:55 PM

      Seems most of the rest of us are fine with it.
      ~

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 6, 2016 at 2:25 PM

      It’s a pretty common thing for blog titles, columns (with the autor’s name), notebooks, and reoccurring themes. So that it’s easy for people to find if they like that specific author, blog, style, etc., etc.

  4. lorcanbonda - Jul 6, 2016 at 3:17 PM

    I think that the “Halftime adjustment” myth needs to stop. Sure, every team makes adjustments all of the time, but we somehow get the short end of the stick at halftime. It seems to me that we should stop treating this as a myth.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 6, 2016 at 3:28 PM

      So you don’t think the team makes halftime adjustments or you think they make bad halftime adjustments?

      And, do you not believe the team constantly makes adjustments during the game?

    • redskins12thman - Jul 6, 2016 at 4:00 PM

      When a team effectively executes in the second half, outplaying their opponent when this may not have been the case in the first half, this is a positive half time adjustment. Some coaches are better than others at getting these results consistently. Coach Gibbs and Coach Belichick are among those coaches who have been generally able to make positive half time adjustments. I feel the jury is still out on Coach Gruden in this area of coaching.

      • Trey Gregory - Jul 6, 2016 at 4:33 PM

        Remember in the first Dallas game when the tablets weren’t working? Dallas’ D was wreaking havoc on us with their stunts and pass rush but we weren’t adjusting. Remember how the announcers were debating between wether the tablets could be to blame or if they should be able to make adjustments without them? That’s because teams make in-game adjustments all the time.

        Now, Gruden is still a relatively inexperienced HC and Barry is an inexperienced DC. Maybe that has something to do with it, maybe it doesn’t. I admit to being frustrated with the coaches about the 3rd quarter colapses and in-game adjustments. But once everything settled down and I had more time to think about it: you can make all the plans you want but the players still have to execute. How many player goofs did we see in the second half of games last year? We saw a ton of blown coverages, fumbles, missed blocks, missed tackles (that was huge), dropped passes, missed assignments, and miscommunications.

        A good coach can make a huge impact on the game with strategy, but his players still have to execute. This is still a young team in the sense that they’re in the process of turning a franchise around. It’s not a well oiled machine and it’s not an established winner. Players still have to buy in and mature. We also had a lot of young players on the field. Young players make mistakes. People often underestimate how mental this game is. If a player gets comfortable with a lead, and let’s their guard down a bit, then they blow plays. Things get unorganized if the leaders quiet down and looses the reins. Players don’t perform as well if they’re not happy, they don’t believe they can win, or they don’t believe they can lose. These are realities of the game people often overlook. You can point to the turnovers as the problem but what was the source of the turnovers and blown plays?

    • Rich Tandler - Jul 6, 2016 at 9:13 PM

      It’s a myth. Any coach will tell you, any player will tell you. If you chose to continue to believe the myth you are perfectly welcome to. But halftime adjustments are a myth.

      What do you think the offensive coaches are doing when the defense is on the field? Checking out the Red Zone channel? Going to the concession stands to get nachos? No, they are making adjustments. They have almost as much time to make adjustments while the other team has extended drive than they do in the locker room at halftime.

      • Trey Gregory - Jul 7, 2016 at 2:53 AM

        The thought of the Oline and Bill Callahan watching Redzone during a game made me laugh. I’m sure they’re all very interested in their fantasy teams. More than making sure the opponent’s defensive stunts don’t murder their QB.

      • redskins12thman - Jul 7, 2016 at 3:22 AM

        For sure, but at different points during the game, including after half-time, there can be momentum shifts, which are often (but not always) triggered by adjustments the coaching staff / players have made or in some cases have not made.

        The point being made was not that adjustments are only made at half-time — it’s understood that they are made continuously — but that sometimes teams come out playing better at the start of the 3rd quarter just as some teams can sometimes start off the opening kick-off better. This is about both team preparedness and ability to quickly adapt and execute in all facets (physical, technical, strategic / tactical and mental) to which the coaching staff might or might not help contribute. I definitely believe that this occurs and that it is one of the reasons that coaches like Gibbs, Belichick, McCarthy and Coughlin have made a difference to their clubs.

        • Rich Tandler - Jul 7, 2016 at 4:50 AM

          OK, if Gruden can’t get things going in the third quarter then explain to me why in 2014 the third quarter was by far the Redskins’ best, or least bad. Only outscored by four in the third, outscored by at least 33 in every other quarter. Did he forget how to handle halftime? Or did they have some bad luck in the third quarter in 2015?

  5. smotion55 - Jul 6, 2016 at 4:00 PM

    They are always taking pictures of previous plays and showing players corrections all game long, so it is mostly myth, maybe need somebody to light a fire under the guy’s butts at halftime but the stat of turnovers + and – is most of it. They played a little bit better in the latter part of the season then the 1st part. They are fully aware of last years stats, and would most likely be better this year.

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