Okay, so by the numbers, the Redskins offense overall ranks 17th in the 3 major categories (yards per game, pass yards per game, and rush yards per game). They rank 22nd in the league in yards per play. They’re tied for 19th in yards per carry, and 12th in attempts per game. They’re tied for 25th in plays from scrimmage with 327, of which 180 are passing attempts. That’s 55%, which is respectable.
But let’s break down into more numbers. On first down, the Washington Redskins (with Rex Grossman) have attempted 67 passes. Ryan Torain has run on 15 first downs, Hightower 38 times, and Roy Helu 15 times. That’s 68 attempts on the ground vs. 67 attempts through the air.
Second down has proven to be somewhat successful for the Redskins, although the average per play on second down is roughly 5 yards, not quite enough if you’re only 60% completion on first down through the air.
On third down, there has been a key struggle in converting only 24 of 72 attempts.
With a 4 point lead late in the Dallas game, the Redskins became pass happy trying to take shots downfield and put the game away. Unfortunately, the Redskins failed to pick up any yards through the air and sustain drives, no balance in pass vs. run in the 4th quarter, punted the ball away, and Tony Romo’s late-game heroics (along with Dez Bryant) helped the Cowboys achieve victory.
The Redskins came back and had a dominant 3-quarter performance against the St. Louis Rams, but late in the game, with a 17 (eventually cut down to 14) point lead, the Redskins became pass happy, failing to convert, turning the ball over, and letting the Rams stay in the game. While the defense looked dominant through 3 quarters, the Rams receivers dropped more passes than Donovan McNabb… and they eventually started hanging onto the football, making it a tight game.
After the bye week, the Washington Redskins came home to play the Philadelphia Eagles, and by all means, looked like it would be a walk in the park offensively. However, the Redskins couldn’t convert on 3rd down, even committing the first of 4 turnovers early on before the Eagles took the ball and went up 14-0.
I bring this up because the Redskins are a really good running team, and while 50% balance in pass vs. run ratio on first down works, it doesn’t quite reflect on the 85% passing ratio (even with leads) late in games.
Rex Grossman is far from a passing wizard, and the tape is out on him, and his numbers this year reflect his career averages identically. With a team geared to run on first down, and not geared to pass at all really, you’d figure there would be a run-heavy ratio (especially after Kyle Shanahan’s boasting about the run game this offseason). Instead, Grossman goes out, and commits turnovers, especially late in games, to give the ball back to the opponent, and several times (twice I counted against Philly, and once against the Cardinals) in spots where the Redskins were in scoring position (and 3 is better than 0).
While I’ve praised Kyle Shanahan’s aggressiveness in the past, and still believe it’s critical to success in Washington with this team, I’m far from pleased with the number of plays he displays his aggressive nature opposed to the savvy plays he should be drawing up. And while I place blame on Grossman for his critical mental lapses, I still don’t believe he should ever be in these positions to begin with. I’m going off memory with this next statement, so this thought may be skewed but I’ve pointed it out on Twitter multiple times every single game, and while TV doesn’t show everything I need to see, this fact is pretty hard to miss… but the playcalls where Grossman threw INT’s or horrible incompletions (especially on first down) came when the Redskins receivers were all running routes at mid-long range (10+ yards) downfield. Grossman didn’t have checkdowns or any diversity; it was just “air it out” route running.
So while we blame Grossman for the mistakes we know he’s more than capable of making, I also want to divert the attention to Kyle Shanahan, for his seemingly disastrous game planning and play calling. You’ve got Rex Grossman back there, not Matt Schaub, Tom Brady, or Aaron Rodgers. It’s also worth noting that the Redskins only ran 12 times against Philadelphia, and 7 attempts came before the Eagles went up 14-0. I know deficits can be hard to overcome, but perhaps running instead of throwing INT’s could have helped balance the score at halftime, or even coming out after the half. Besides, it’s not as if Philly’s tackling was much better… John Beck broke 2 more tackles than all of the backs combined. Surely sticking with the run game would have exuded confidence in the stable and they would have eventually started breaking a couple?
Anyways, feel free to leave your thoughts, hit me up (and follow) on Twitter @Sean_Bishop.