Seven Numbers The Redskins Must Improve In 2015-16
Several Washington Redskins have expressed their high expectations for the 2015-16 season. But like any 4-12 team, they have a list of problems begging to be addressed this offseason.
Here are seven metrics the Redskins must improve and the corresponding offseason moves the team has made that point them in the right direction.
1) Net passing yards per attempt
When Redskins quarterbacks stayed upright, they were pretty efficient. Excluding plays that ended in a sack, Washington averaged 8.2 yards per pass, which was fourth in the league and better than prominent passing offenses like Denver and Indianapolis. But when you factor in sacks, that number decreases to 6.0 yards per attempt. Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy were sacked a combined 58 times, second-worst in the NFL.
Tight ends and running backs need to do their part in pass protection, and QBs need to get rid of the ball sooner. However, the most improvement must come from the O-line. Washington used three of its ten draft picks on offensive linemen: tackle Brandon Scherff (first round, fifth overall), guard Arie Kouandjio (fourth round) and center Austin Reiter (seventh round). They also signed tackle Takoby Cofield, who went overlooked in the draft.
2) Rushing attempts
The top rushing offenses averaged about 31 attempts per game in 2015. The Redskins averaged 25 attempts per game, good for 21st in the NFL.
Washington needs to run the ball effectively. Third-round draft pick Matt Jones will help shoulder some of the load. A "big boy," as head coach Jay Gruden describes him, the running back stands at 6-foot-3 and 231 pounds and will be a threat to defenders. Veteran Alfred Morris returns with three 1,000+ yard seasons under his belt. The team is also switching from a zone-blocking offense to a power-heavy offense, which Morris says is "right up my alley."
3) Third down conversion
Washington converted 31.5 percent of third downs, which put them at 30th in the league. That’s only better than Tennessee and Cleveland-- not the best of company. The best third down teams in the league – New Orleans, Green Bay and Dallas – convert about 50 percent of the time. But third down conversions are more about timing, especially near the end zone. In 34 third-down snaps in the red zone, the Redskins gained an average of 1.5 yards per play and scored three touchdowns (8.8 percent conversion rate).The rest of the NFL averaged 2.85 yards per play and converted a touchdown 23 percent of the time.
The team brought in Bill Callahan from Dallas as offensive coordinator. Callahan has studied offenses for 35 years, 16 of those with NFL teams. Improving play in there d zone is one of Gruden's major focal points heading into training camp. A majority of mini camp involved 11-on-11 and seven-on-seven end zone efficiency drills.
4) Defensive yards per play
The Redskins gave up 5.8 yards per play, 26th in the league. That number was worse on third down, where the 'Skins fell to 29th, allowing 6.8 yards. And guess what?When opponents gain yardage, they move closer to the red zone. That's why opponents scored 27.4 points per game against the No.30 Washington defense.
Joe Barry, who spent the last five seasons as linebackers coach in San Diego, was brought in as defensive coordinator. The line was upgraded with the additions of Terrance Knighton, Stephen Paea and Ricky Jean Francois. Then Chris Culliver, Dashon Goldson and Jeron Johnson were signed to improve the secondary. Although DeAngelo Hall was unable to participate in OTAs and minicamps with a torn Achilles heel, he used the offseason to mentor a young group of defensive backs.
5) Opponent passer rating
This may not be the most accurate way to analyze a pass defense, but a number this bad deserves attention. The average passer rating against Washington was 108.3, worst in the league by a long stretch. This means the average quarterback facing the Redskins had a higher passer rating than Ben Roethlisberger (103.3), Peyton Manning (101.5), Tom Brady (97.4) and Drew Brees (97.0).
Washington's new strength and conditioning coach, Master John Kim, is a seventh-degree black belt who has worked with eight different NFL franchises. As a pass rush specialist, he incorporates martial arts into drills to help defensive linemen work their hands, feet and hips while avoiding opponents and tracking the ball.
The Redskins' 31 turnovers ranked third-worst in the league. Their takeaway-giveaway differential was -12, also third-worst. The teams with the best differential and fewest number of turnovers? New England, Green Bay and Seattle. You see where I’m going with these comparisons.
Another one of Gruden’s major points of interest is improving the turnover differential. He says this begins with the defense forcing more fumbles and interceptions. During this summer’s offseason practices, defenders are being trained to go after the ball every time it hits the ground, even after incomplete passes.
Unnecessary and avoidable penalties were a dagger for a team that already struggled with production. The 'Skins lost 1,130 yards to penalties last season, which was second worst in the league. Most of the Redskins' league-leading144 penalties were false starts (22) or holding (17) calls.
Callahan stresses the importance of discipline and eliminating mental errors. He makes linemen run laps around the field during practice when they jump offsides. Kim's training will help with the holding issue.
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