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4 Stats That Define the Washington Redskins' Offense

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4 Stats That Define the Washington Redskins' Offense
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
The Redskins have shown that they can run the ball; they just haven't had adequate opportunities to do so.

There are so many reasons why the Washington Redskins are 0-2 that it would likely take multiple posts to do their struggles justice. Inconsistent offense. Laughable defense. Playing with a lead for a mere six minutes out of 120 minutes total.

The list goes on and on, and nearly everyone is to blame.

Even with the ridiculous calls from fans to bench RG3, the defense seems to be getting the brunt of the criticism for what has happened. That blame is well-deserved, obviously. The defense has given up over 1,000 yards in two games and dwells in the cellar in almost every conceivable category.

But don't let the numbers fool you. The offense, despite being ranked sixth in the NFL, has been as much of a disappointment, if not more so. A unit that set all kinds of team records in 2012 has been shockingly one-dimensional and ineffective.

Here are four stats that put numerical figures to why the Redskins have started the season so terribly.

 

Third-down conversions

The Redskins were nothing special last year in this category, but they're spectacularly bad in 2013. They've converted five of a possible 21 third downs for a 23.8 percent clip. 

Patrick Smith/Getty Images
RG3's stats are decent to an extent, but much of his success has come using dink-and-dunk principles.

The issue here is that the Redskins generally have six or more yards to go on third down, and even when they are two yards or closer, they choose to throw the ball instead of running it.

The fact that they have been losing for almost the entirety of the season contributes to the need to throw the ball, but there's only so much a slant pattern can do on 3rd-and-short. Injuries aside, there should be no reason the Redskins can't be downright impossible to defend on 3rd-and-short with the options they have at their disposal.

The inability to convert third downs has a double effect: Not only does it result in fewer points, it also results in less time for the defense to rest on the sideline. The Redskins' defense has been gashed for two weeks in a row, gassed by halftime because the Redskins can't put drives together.

Until they fix this issue, they'll continue to struggle through the first half of games.

 

Average starting field position

This isn't so much an indictment of the offense as it is the kickoff return unit's inability to even sniff a decent return, but the fact remains that the Redskins can't get out of their own side of the field. Even with the new kickoff rules that essentially guarantee at least a start on the 20-yard line, the Redskins' average starting field position is at about the 22-yard line, 29th in the league.

By contrast, the offense's inability to move the ball consistently results in the Redskins' defense having to stop their opponents starting at the opposition's 33-yard line. 

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If you start every drive deep in your own territory and your opponent starts every drive in decent field position, there is absolutely no way you will win that game unless your offense is one of the league's top units. Starting deep on your own side of the field also changes the game plan, which leads to...

 

Rushing attempts per game

Look, I know it's tough to run the ball when you're down 31-0, and I know it's hard to run the ball when you need to conserve the clock.

That being said, the Redskins have employed some very suspect play-calling at the beginning of games, choosing to throw the ball early instead of running it. This team runs the ball a shade under 18 times per game (28th in the NFL), which is putrid when you consider that this was one of the better running teams in recent memory last season.

The issue is complicated. You need to throw the ball when you're behind, but how much of being behind falls on the running game's inability to control the clock?

In fact, it falls on the coaching staff.

Even when behind, there's no excuse for a team that averages 5.2 yards per carry to completely give up on the running game. And it definitely doesn't make sense if the staff refuses to run consistently to start the game, something that leads us to our final problem...

 

Time of possession

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
The game plan has been worn down because the Redskins have been playing from behind, but Mike and Kyle Shanahan still haven't pushed the right play-calling buttons.

The Redskins cannot do anything in the first half.

They choose not to run the ball on the right plays, and when they do, it's ineffective. RG3 has turned into a pocket passer as opposed to a dual-threat quarterback, and the defense can't stay off the field.

This futility and inability to execute simple football mechanics manifests itself in the time of possession category. The Redskins rank 25th in the NFL in time of possession at 27:26 a game on average.

But the numbers really become shocking when you break them down.

In the second half of football games, the Redskins own the ball. They hold it 56 percent of the time and generally control the flow of play. The dink-and-dump philosophy is a contributing factor, so don't look at that as a success.

The real problem is the first half, where the Redskins hang onto the ball only 35 percent of the time, 31st in the league. They can't control the ball or the clock, and if they can't do that, how can they expect to control the game?

There is a lot to work on, but the Redskins can take solace in the fact that the NFC East as a whole has opened the season in a lull. If they can pick it up quickly, things could change in a hurry.

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