Are the Washington Redskins Prioritizing the Offense over the Defense?

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMay 6, 2013

November 18, 2012; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Only three NFL teams scored more points on offense than the Washington Redskins in 2012. Only four NFL defenses gave up more yards. 

Logically, you'd expect numbers such as those to cause teams like the 'Skins to shift their entire offseason focus to one side of the ball. But no, Washington continues to spend just as much time retooling and building its offense as it does attempting to improve its defense. 

Two of the Redskins' top four draft choices were offensive weapons. And in free agency, they let veteran defensive players Madieu Williams, Cedric Griffin and Lorenzo Alexander get away while finding the cash to bring back veteran offensive contributors Fred Davis and Santana Moss. 

So it's possible Mike Shanahan and Co. have concluded that the key to success in this day and age is to run up the scoreboard and win track meets. 

From CSN Washington's Rich Tandler:

In last week's draft [they] devoted nearly as many assets to the offense as they did to the defense. They did take a cornerback with their first selection but they followed with two offensive picks, taking players who are capable of taking the ball to the house any time they get their hands on it. In all, four draftees play defense, three play offense. If you consider the fact that the Redskins' first-round pick was part of the trade for the rights to Robert Griffin III, they spent their draft picks equally on both sides of the ball.

Why not throw all of your resources, or at least more of them, into building up the weaker area of the team? Because having a good offense is more important than having a good defense.

Tandler points to a very geeky and very interesting piece of analysis from Chase Stuart over at Football Perspective. There, Stuart concludes based on expected points scored and allowed that offense is responsible for 60 percent of the points scored, while defense is responsible for only 40 percent. 

Essentially, you're much better off with a great offense and a bad defense than a great defense and a bad offense. That might be a big reason why the Shanahans of the world are continuing to stress offense when the defense is struggling to stay afloat. 

It's not as though they're neglecting the D. Four of their seven draft choices were defensive players, and signing cornerback E.J. Biggers was probably the most crucial move they made during what was a very quiet free-agency period. With cap sanctions, they didn't have a lot of wiggle room, but they still found a way to bring in Biggers and bring back DeAngelo Hall. 

The focus, though, will never shift fully to that side of the ball. And that's a good thing.