About 75 percent of people know that you can use stats to skew perspectives. The reality is that they rarely tell the whole story, but I also find that they almost always tell part of the story.
Let's look at a few stats from Washington's season-opening shocker in New Orleans and add context to draw some broader conclusions from there.
That was the total percentage of Robert Griffin III's pass attempts that traveled 15 or more yards, according to Advanced NFL Stats. Only eight starting quarterbacks had lower percentages than that in Week 1, and yet Griffin still ended up with 320 passing yards.
ANS also takes into account interceptions to generate an adjusted yards-per-attempt average for quarterbacks. Griffin led the league in both regular YPA and AYPA in Week 1. If you remove that 88-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon, which inflated his average, you still get a 9.3 YPA number, which would be the eighth-highest among quarterbacks in Week 1.
Griffin only attempted two passes of 20 yards or more, according to Pro Football Focus, and he completed one of them. Last year, Rex Grossman went deep on 23 percent of his pass attempts and completed only 37.7 percent of the his 20-plus-yard throws.
This matters because the Redskins were picking their spots carefully and were still able to keep the Saints defense off-balance despite going underneath often. Griffin was able to build his confidence and get acclimated to the NFL in a comfortable fashion while registering a victory. Now, he should continue to build on that as he adds deeper throws to his repertoire going forward. That's scary.
That was Washington's pass coverage rating, according to Pro Football Focus—a number that ranked third in the league in Week 1. Pretty remarkable considering a similar unit drew a minus-17.2 rating last year (seventh-last in football).
Now, it's only one week, but considering that was against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints on the road, this is an indication that new defensive backs coach Raheem Morris has made a positive impact on the much-maligned secondary.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees posted the third-lowest completion percentage of his 155-game career, and the lowest since 2006.
We all knew Josh Wilson had Pro Bowl potential, but there were questions surrounding Cedric Griffin and DeJon Gomes headed into this season, and DeAngelo Hall has been known to have lapses in judgement as a cover man. But in New Orleans, all of those guys stepped it up.
You'd think the Rams would be a cinch after that.
This one's simple. It was the first time since 2005 that the Redskins have registered three or more takeaways on defense while not turning it over once on offense. Only the Texans and Bears (plus-4 each) had stronger turnover ratios than the Redskins did in Week 1, which is saying a lot when you consider that Washington had the second-worst ratio in football in 2011 (minus-14).
This defense clearly possesses the ability to get takeaways and now they're beginning to deliver. The key is a pass rush that pestered Brees for much of the day, giving the secondary opportunities to make big plays.
Offensively, the aforementioned low-risk passing attack helped, as well as the fact that the 'Skins handed it off 34 times to running backs. It's a good sign that rookie back Alfred Morris held onto the rock on all 28 of his touches in his NFL debut.
The Redskins haven't been in the plus column in turnover ratio since 2005, which also happens to be the last time they won a playoff game. This year, they're off to one hell of a start.
Finally, possibly the most jarring statistic of the bunch. That's the PFF pass-blocking efficiency rating posted by the 'Skins on Sunday, which was tied for first in the league.
According to PFF, Washington's offensive line allowed zero sacks, zero hits, two hurries and only two total pressures.
In the same category in 2011, the Redskins were 28th in football with a 75.1 rating. And considering how things were going this preseason, it looked like they were in store for similar problems in 2012. But right tackle Tyler Polumbus didn't give up a single hurry while filling in for Jammal Brown, and guard Kory Lichtensteiger was also perfect in that respect. Trent Williams and Chris Chester gave up one hurry each, and that was it.
The only sack on Griffin was pinned on the rookie back Morris.
Again, it's only one game, but I can't imagine the Shanahans could have expected anything like this.