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Need to Know: Redskins by the numbers—Ball protection

Jul 11, 2016, 5:31 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 11, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.


—The Redskins last played a game 183 days ago. It will be 63 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 4; Preseason opener @ Falcons 31; Final roster cut 54

The Redskins by the numbers

4—The number of games the 2015 Redskins played with zero turnovers

That was their best performance in that area since 2012 when they had six turnover-free games. That year they set a team record with just 14 giveaways all year. It’s not a coincidence that they won the NFC East both years. Playing games without giveaways is a good indicator of success but not a sure one. They had five turnover free games in 2008 but they finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs under Jim Zorn. But a closer look shows that four of those no-turnover games came during their 6-2 start that year. They had only one in the 2-6 limp to the finish.

6—The number of games the 2015 Redskins played with one turnover

The Redskins were 9-1 in games with zero or one turnovers. Since they won nine games it’s not too hard to figure out that they did not win a game in which they turned the ball over two times or more. It’s safe to say that they had a very thin margin for error. Last year all NFL teams had a .619 winning percentage when turning the ball over zero or one time (181-1110). The league went 75-145 with two or more giveaways (.341).

9—The number of games where the Redskins’ defense had two or more takeaways

They were 5-4 in those games. So taking the ball away didn’t help them as much as giving it away hurt them.

70—The number of drives the 2015 Redskins had with three or fewer plays

Only seven teams had more. But that doesn’t meant that the Redskins were all that bad when it came to three and out drives. They scored 11 touchdowns on drives of three plays or fewer; only one team scored more. And they weren’t all drives where they got possession deep in the opponent’s territory. There were two quick drives of 80 yards each (two and three plays), one of 77 (one play) and one of 72 yards (three plays).

41—The number of touchdown drives the Redskins had in 2015

Those drives averaged 7.6 plays, covered 65.9 yards and ate 3:42 of the clock. The league averages were 7.3 plays, 66.4 yards, and took 3:20. The average team had 38 touchdown drives. I’m not sure how significant this is but of the top 12 teams with the most time-consuming average drive only two, the Redskins and Seahawks, made the playoffs.

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  1. smotion55 - Jul 11, 2016 at 6:36 AM

    I like stats but this would even be more telling if they were split into 2 parts of last year and show early kirk and the kirk that played better later and how that changed all the other team numbers.

  2. rlundy1123 - Jul 11, 2016 at 7:01 AM

    Rich, any sense of why they had so much difficulty turning takeaways into points? I know this subject came up during the season, but I don’t recall whether any trends were noticed.

    • Rich Tandler - Jul 11, 2016 at 7:54 AM

      Part of the reason was field position. Redskins on average took over at their own 44 after a takeaway. The league average was the opponent’s 49.

      No numbers to back this up but I don’t think they were very aggressive with play calling after a takeaway. I remember a lot of run, run, pass, punt sequences.

      [Edit] Just checked, the Redskins had drives of three plays or fewer 10 times after takeaways. Only one of those drives ended with a score.

      • rlundy1123 - Jul 11, 2016 at 8:13 AM

        What you are saying makes sense. I don’t think they were very aggressive with play calling in general, although there were some good reasons for that at times. It will be interesting to see if that changes with Cousins not throwing picks, Jackson on the field more than the sidelines (hopefully), and perhaps if we can get a run game together (fingers crossed).

        • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jul 11, 2016 at 9:23 AM

          Hopefully with you.

          Jackson may be a pita WR diva, but he opens everything up on offense when he’s on the field.

        • redskins12thman - Jul 11, 2016 at 9:30 AM

          I think he wants Jackson on the field too…

      • Trey Gregory - Jul 11, 2016 at 1:55 PM

        I think the the playcalling specifically after turnovers is exactly correct. It was unusually timid. Even the passes were often short and “safe.”

        Of course Gruden was trying to win. But I think he was more concerned with Cousins’ development. That wins would come if Cousins gained confidence and developed. So he didn’t want to risk a mistake, and shatter momentum and Cousins’ confidence with a mistake after a turnover. You still win the field position battle. It was a safe and calculated bet. I expect Gruden will open the playbook more in 2016.

  3. redskins12thman - Jul 11, 2016 at 9:18 AM

    Interesting stats. Underscores the importance of holding onto the football and winning the turnover battle; can’t emphasize that enough.

    I was most surprised by the fact that “of the top 12 teams with the most time-consuming average drive only two, the Redskins and Seahawks, made the playoffs.” Is this because the most-time consuming average drives do not result in scores or was this comment made in the context of just looking at the touchdown drives. Has it always been the case that 80%+ of the top 12 teams with the most-time consuming average for scores did not make the playoffs? I’m surprised that this percentage is so high because the longer a team holds onto the ball, the more likely they are putting themselves into scoring position; should I be surprised? Does it have to do with the better teams winning the field position battle too and therefore needing fewer yards to score?

    • redskins12thman - Jul 11, 2016 at 9:22 AM

      Is it about “big play” ability / exploiting the defense for big plays? I remember Joe Barry saying he wanted to improve upon the number of big plays that the defense gives up …

      • Trey Gregory - Jul 11, 2016 at 1:51 PM

        I’m sure it’s a slew of things. Every team is different and every situation is different.

        But take one example: the Redskins have had issues in the Redzone for years. I believe due to a lack of length in their receivers. So even if they manufactures a 4 min drive, once they got into the Redzone they had a hard time getting into the end zone. The length of the drive is irrelevant if you’re kicking field goals or not scoring.

        It’s also tough to score in the Redzone anyway. The field is short and the defense can play tighter.

        But there’s been a conventional wisdom in the NFL for decades that the team who controls the clock (mostly through the run game) has a big advantage. You wear the opposing defense down and keep the opposing offense off the field. The emergence of uptempo offenses showed cracks in that theory. Go ahead and take 4 min to score. We will do it in 30 seconds without even sniffing the Redzone. It’s a passing league now. Because the team who can pass down your throat is at an advantage over a team that runs it down your throat.

        We’re in the midst of a shift in the NFL. The transformation isn’t complete. So some of the old wisdom still applies while others don’t. And none of us really know what will be a fad and what will stick. But for now, my money is on having a high octane passing game and pass defense. Simply look at this last draft and you’ll see that’s where many GMs are putting their money too.

        • redskins12thman - Jul 11, 2016 at 2:51 PM

          My gut still tells me that in tight, back-and-forth games, the ability to engineer time-consuming 4th quarter drives, including effective runs against a defense that has begun to wear down, and that culminates in a touchdown with very little time on the clock, is very important. Is it absolutely necessary? No, but it would help most teams to have this be part of its arsenal.

          Sometimes teams are in high octane mode because they are so far behind, they need to score a bunch of points in a short amount of time. Of course, there are several successful teams that embrace high octane most of the time — such as the Patriots. But if you are playing teams with quarterbacks like Brady and Rodgers, good luck if you think your QB can “out-sling” the opponent.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 12, 2016 at 11:41 AM

          Well yes I agree that there’s still a place for the 4 min drill. But that’s a situation with a specific timeframe.

          I understand what you’re saying about everything else. There is still room for manufacturing long drives. I’m saying they’ve become less important. And there’s also a reason why those QBs you names are in the playoffs every year.

          Also don’t forget I emphasized the importance of pass defense. Pass rushers and secondary. You don’t have to outsling Aaron Rogers if your defense can shut him down.

  4. wncskinsfan - Jul 11, 2016 at 9:25 AM

    “So taking the ball away didn’t help them as much as giving it away hurt them.” This is a critical area I have been thinking about a lot. Hopefully, the team can improve with creating points from these opportunities. The development of the pass side of the offense might help this, and another year of said offense “gelling.” The defense, also a work in progress, I think is another draft or so away from truly getting up to speed (but only on paper, we shall see when the games play). This upcoming season, I suspect we will need to make some of those points from turn overs to secure the win. That could very well fall in the coaches laps. Considering we have a bunch of tall WR going into camp, and a well stocked TE unit, it would appear that they are making sure that they have the tools. It will be a fun season to watch. HTTR

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 11, 2016 at 1:41 PM

      We may have a bunch of tall WRs going into camp but only one of them is likely to make the final 53 (Doctson) so that’s kind of a mute point. Our WRs will most likely be Garçon (short), Jackson (short), Crowder (short), Doctson (tall), Grant (short), and Ross (short). Even if one of the UFAs really surprises and knocks Ross off then that’s only 1 more tall WR buerried deep in the bench.

      Our TEs are where the length is for now. But even they’re undersized for the position. Doctson was a great step toward getting more length in our receivers but we need more.

      And to be clear, I’m not saying undersized WRs and TEs can’t be very good players (I would take Antionio Brown in a heartbeat). I’m just stating that we do not have length in our receivers. And that does hurt in some situations. Particularly the redzone.

      • wncskinsfan - Jul 11, 2016 at 2:05 PM

        No, I totally agree with you, esp. in the short term. But some of those tall guys are going to land on the PS (hopefully, if they clear waivers– a new problem for this squad!). Plus we just drafted a #1 tall guy, BPA, sure, but he is def. a jump ball guy. I guess i should have been a bit more clear, it really seems that they are putting an emphasis on height as part of the build out, the long term strategy. I think part of the coaches plan for creating points from opportunities might be predicated on that. thanks for the reply, interesting stuff to think about. July thoughts. cheers!

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 12, 2016 at 11:30 AM

          Well I can agree with that.

          McCloughan didn’t bring Jackson and Garcon in. He drafted Crowder but he’s a typical slot guy. So I too am optimistic that McCloughan will build a taller receiving corps for us.

          A side note. I actually think Corey Coleman may have been the best WR in the draft (Cleveland took him so we’ll never truly know). But Doctson and Treadwell were actually more valuable because of their length. So I agree Doctson was BPA even though Coleman had better pure talent.

  5. AKA pops - Jul 11, 2016 at 10:35 AM

    I’ve been a skins fan since the 50’s.Im in the court of seeing is believing and what I see is that if defensive plays calls are not more aggressive at the (right times) it’s gona be more of the same reults,I could tell you half way through the season what we were going to do on 1st and 3rd downs almost every time.If i could do it I’m sure our opponents could to.We need more imagination period.Thank you.

    • redskins12thman - Jul 11, 2016 at 1:47 PM

      Interesting observation. Did others find the Redskins defense very predictable? How about the offense? How much more imagination would help?

  6. Jlb12300 - Jul 11, 2016 at 6:15 PM

    The one thing that I do know is I am tired of hearing about cousins contract. He will play on the tag. Which means that next year if he balls out again 22. Million a year it will cost. So let it go and let’s get to camp.

    • goback2rfk - Jul 11, 2016 at 10:02 PM

      There is only 1 reason Cousins does not have a contract and that is because so far he is not worth what he wants. The Redskins do not want to be the sucker again. Lets find out if this guy can ball, let him play on the tag, and if he deserves the big money we will know by the end of the year.

      Look for Cousins to slump some this year. A standard sophomore slump that nearly every QB coming into his 2nd full season has had. Watch the contract price to get down to about 18mil a year or so after a non stellar season this year. Its not like the dude is going to break records again people.

      • John - Jul 12, 2016 at 9:34 AM

        I don’t see Cousins slumping. I can see his numbers dropping off some mostly due to the fact that they will be running the gauntlet this year. While the Skins have a nice receiving group, they will be facing as a whole a stronger group of defenses (Pittsburgh, Cincy, Baltimore, Carolina, Arizona, Green Bay, to name a few). All those teams have way better defenses and the offenses are all pretty good as well. The running game needs to be effective, so they can run more play action and boot. If not its going to be tough regardless. He does not need to break records to prove his worth. More than that, its not as if they have an adequate replacement. Sign him and move on. Its just down to who speaks first.

      • Trey Gregory - Jul 12, 2016 at 11:34 AM

        Why would he take 18 mil a year even if he slumps? When Washington’s options would be to go without a starting caliber QB or tag him again for 24 mil? It makes absolutely no sense.

  7. Skulb - Jul 11, 2016 at 11:52 PM

    This is too statistical for my taste. If your defense is solid it will get the ball back more after turnovers. And if your offense is good it will score points after turnovers. We were not particularly fantastic at either last season. Or indeed in any recent season I can recall, perhaps excepting 2012. The connection between the wins and the turnover are real, but exaggerated by the idiosyncracies of the Redskins team, apparently being quite bad at dealing with both offensive and defensive turnovers effectively.
    To pu8t it very simply: we scored almost no points off opposing teams’ turnovers, and therefore won basically no games due to them. As a result we therefore needed to limit our own turnovers to have any chance of winning, which we were fortunately able to do. And that was a good thing, because we retrieved the ball very few times after committing a turnover and therefore would have lost games with more turnovers the wrong way. Archives

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