Stats don't often tell the whole story, but most are relevant when put into context. Here are three stats related to the Washington Redskins that help explain why they stand where they do heading into Week 11 of the 2012 NFL regular season.
96: That's how many passing first downs the Redskins have this season, which is a strangely low number. Yes, it's well-documented that they've struggled to convert third downs in general, but the passing offense has been much improved this season.
Despite that, only four teams have moved the chains through the air less often than the 'Skins have. By comparison, Washington's offense ranks third in the NFL with 79 first downs on the ground. Robert Griffin's legs are obviously a factor, but this still indicates the Redskins are much more balanced than they've been in years past.
The 'Skins attempted more passes than all but four NFL teams last year. This year, they've attempted fewer than all but two.
6.2: That's how many yards per play the 'Skins have given up this season, which ranks 31st in the NFL and is a steep decline from the 5.5 average they put up last season (which was also the league median in 2011). It's not as though the secondary was much better, but Washington is getting less pressure.
Who have the 'Skins been missing most?
Pro Football Focus gives the Redskins a pass coverage rating of -5.6, which ranks 23rd. Last year, they ranked 26th at -17.2. But they have only 14 sacks through nine games this season, which ranks 30th. In 2011, they were ranked 10th with 41. That gives you an indication of how much they're missing Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker.
-14.5: That—unbelievably—is London Fletcher's cumulative PFF rating this season. Even I'll admit that advanced stats have their limitations and that PFF isn't the be-all and end-all of player evaluation, but it's pretty crazy to see the always-steady Fletcher ranked 47th out of 50 qualifying inside linebackers.
With seven missed tackles on 190 run snaps, Fletcher's "stop percentage" is higher than only two other players at his position who have taken at least 50 percent of their teams' snaps.
For comparison's sake, Fletcher was ranked eighth among all inside linebackers last year with a +11.8 rating. I know he's been hurt and that he's an important team leader, but the 37-year-old isn't helping this defense anymore.