Redskins by the Numbers: 2013 Stats Washington Must Improve in 2014
For the 2014 Washington Redskins, the bar has been set low in the improvement department.
When a team limps to a 3-13 record—something Washington did in 2013—a myriad of things typically go wrong, some of which you cannot quantify with statistics.
For example, there's no stat that measures leadership, team chemistry or, say, the tension level between a quarterback and his head coach.
But in evaluating the on-field performance of the 2013 Redskins, some of the statistics are alarming. New head coach Jay Gruden and his staff have a lot to address this offseason if the team expects to make a dramatic turnaround.
Let's examine five glaring areas in which the Redskins must show marked improvement in if they want any shot at being competitive in 2014.
Everything Special Teams
How bad were the Redskins' special teams in 2013?
Oh, let me count the ways.
|Top Three Special Teams Units in 2013|
|Green Bay Packers||-16.4|
Learn more about PFF grades.
It gets worse.
The Redskins' average starting field position per drive was 25.35, last in the league, according to Football Outsiders.
Their opponents' average starting field position per drive? 31.72—again, worst in the NFL.
Here's the cherry on top: The Burgundy and Gold gave up a league-high four kickoff or punt-return touchdowns.
Really. You cannot make this stuff up.
Washington will essentially be starting from scratch with this unit in 2014. Former special teams coordinator Keith Burns was fired the day after the regular season ended. His replacement is Ben Kotwica, who was the New York Jets' special teams coordinator in 2013.
Also gone is punter Sav Rocca, whose net punting average last season was just 33.8 yards—all together now—worst in the NFL.
The one sure holdover will be kicker Kai Forbath, who hit on 18 of 22 field goals.
Special teams cannot be ignored this offseason. You'd have to believe that these embarrasing numbers have been mulled over with disgust by the powers that be at Redskins Park. Extreme measures must be taken to guarantee that such a dismal performance isn't replicated this upcoming season.
Touchdowns and Points Allowed
The Redskins gave up a league-high 59 touchdowns in 2013, with their opponents averaging 29.9 points per game (tied for second-most in the NFL).
What's most disconcerting about these stats is how evenly the touchdowns were given up defensively (rushing versus receiving):
|Touchdowns Allowed in 2013|
In short, there wasn't a dominant area on the defense—each position group requires anything from a minor tweaking to a major overhaul this offseason. According to Pro Football Focus, the Redskins were given a grade of minus-66.8 against the run (31st in the NFL) and minus-45.6 in pass coverage (28th in the NFL) last season.
Washington will make the back end of its secondary a priority in free agency. They've already re-signed cornerback DeAngelo Hall and will likely be in pursuit of another free-agent corner and two new starting safeties.
With outside linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo in place, the Redskins will also look to bolster the defensive line and inside linebacker position in free agency and through the draft.
No team can consistently win in the NFL while giving up 30 points per game. An upgrade in defensive personnel is the first step to ensuring the amount of touchdowns allowed last season decreases significantly in 2014.
Redskins quarterbacks—namely Robert Griffin III—were hit 96 times in 2013, 10th-most in the NFL.
There's more than one culprit behind this stat—the offensive line must block better, running backs and tight ends need to improve in blitz pickup and receivers have to get open.
Most importantly, though, Griffin must protect himself and make quicker decisions.
There were times in 2013 when Griffin held on to the ball too long in the pocket or put himself in harm’s way by trying to make a play that wasn't there. Playing from behind for a majority of the season didn't make things easy, either.
A healthy offseason will give Griffin an opportunity to further improve his pocket awareness. His new head coach also knows a thing or two about keeping the quarterback upright.
Last season under Gruden's tutelage, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was hit only 47 times, the lowest in the NFL by a wide margin (Denver and the Dallas Cowboys were tied for the second-lowest with 54 quarterback hits allowed).
The Redskins will presumably beef up their O-line this offseason. Couple that with a rejuvenated, more prepared Griffin, and it's a safe bet that the unnecessary shots taken by the franchise quarterback will be reduced moving forward.
Passing Plays of 20 Yards or More Allowed
Last season the Redskins gave up large chunks of yardage on defense, oftentimes killing any shred of momentum or confidence that the unit may have acquired during the course of a game. Washington allowed 58 pass plays of 20 yards or more in 2013—tied for eighth-most in the league.
This has been a problem area for defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's group over the past three seasons. In 2011 and 2012, Washington also allowed 58 pass plays of 20 yards or more.
The obvious fix to this issue is to upgrade the talent, something that the front office will work to do as early as Tuesday in free agency.
Last season the secondary endured a mountain of injuries, which in turn thrust inexperienced players into prominent roles. The end of the salary-cap penalties means that Haslett and secondary coach Raheem Morris will probably be coaching new players who could end up being legit difference-makers in 2014.
It's not all on the secondary, though. A great defense starts with a formidable pass rush.
Pro Football Focus gave Washington a grade of 4.0 in pass rush, good enough for 14th in the NFL. To build upon that grade, much will be expected from Kerrigan and Orakpo. Last month, Haslett told ESPN 980 that he has plans "to turn them loose more" in 2014 (via ESPN.com's John Keim).
Haslett and Morris have a lot to prove this season. With an expected influx of talent on its way, it's time for results.
Deep Passing Offense (20 Yards or More Downfield)
Robert Griffin III's sophomore slump can largely be attributed to his lack of a healthy offseason in 2013.
Instead of participating in OTAs and training camp and playing in the preseason games, Griffin was forced to sit on the sidelines and rehab his reconstructed knee. As a result, he entered Week 1 ice cold—and it lingered throughout the course of a disheartening three-win season.
One of the things that Griffin did best during his rookie campaign was throw the deep ball. Last season, he regressed in this area:
|Robert Griffin III Deep Passing (20 Yards or More)|
|*Pro Football Focus|
A strong running game set Griffin up for long-ball success in 2012. Playing from behind for much of the 2013 season—all while at less than 100 percent—resulted in RG3 throwing forced, inaccurate passes. His receivers, outside of Pierre Garcon, also didn't do him any favors.
There's a three-ingredient remedy for Griffin to get back to his rookie form in 2014: a balanced offense, a bolstered wide-receiving corps and, of course, health.
All statistics are courtesy of NFL.com unless otherwise noted.
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