Was the Washington Redskins' Defense Really That Bad Last Year?

Craig Garrison SrSenior Analyst IJuly 27, 2008

According to one article after another and one radio story/statement after another (I won't name the "journalists" or the papers/websites they write for, or the radio hosts or the stations they work for), the Redskins "bolstered their **** ranked defense" with the acquisition of DE Jason Taylor from the Miami Dolphins.

While the Redskins certainly bolstered their defense, the defensive ranking so often referred to is simply NOT accurate.

Note that I used asterisks where numerals would have been in the above paragraph. The reason is simple, there have been many different numbers used. From 23 all the way 30.

I am sure that many Redskins fans, and most football fans, have noticed this reality on occasion. And not just concerning the Redskins. Professional journalists will pick and choose the numbers they use to make the point they want to make.

In the case of the Redskins and their defense last year, and that might pertain to the acquisition of DE Jason Taylor, that means the best story will include numbers that "prove" how bad the Redskins defense was last year, so the writer or speaker can make the point that the Redskins had done nothing to "fix" a "glaring" problem.

The reality is of course, quite different. Here are some simple numbers taken directly from the NFL's Web site, which I can only consider as accurate as it gets. Of course, these numbers include the absolute thrashing the 'Skins defense received at the hands of the New England Patriots.

Just think where they would have finished without that one anomaly of a game.

2007 Regular Season Redskins Defensive Stats:

  • 8th in total yards allowed
  • 16th in passing yards allowed
  • 4th in rushing yards allowed
  • Tied for 16th in sacks with 33
  • 11th in total points allowed
  • Tied for 8th in touchdowns allowed
  • Tied for 11th in passing touchdowns allowed
  • Tied for 23rd in interceptions

Now, these numbers don't paint the picture of the best defense in football. But they don't paint the picture of one the worst defenses in football, either. In particular, most journalists talk about sacks and the pass defense. The Redskins finished in the middle of the league in sacks and passing-yards allowed.

But they finished in the top third of the league in passing touchdowns allowed (11th) and total points (11th) allowed. The only defensive category they finished low in was interceptions. Few interceptions could absolutely be translated to mean "not enough QB pressure". But it's the only category that one could reasonably use for such a theory.

There is no doubt that the defense's strength was in its rush defense, finishing in the top 10 in virtually every rushing category. Gregg Williams is no longer the defensive coordinator, but he was the defensive coordinator in 2006, when the defense stunk up the NFL. He was also the DC in 2007 when they finished fourth overall. So why the discrepancies?

I have posted comments and sent responses to several of these journalists, and I have not received any response. In making an attempt to challenge a certain radio-show host on claims of the defense's low rankings, I was simply talked over and I got nowhere.

If anyone can show me real numbers that indicate that the Redskins' defense was anything less than "pretty good" in the 2007 season, I will gladly listen, or read and learn.

In the meantime, I will simply say that the acquisition of DE Jason Taylor makes what was already a pretty good defense quite a bit better. He should be able to help out fellow DE Andre Carter and young tackles Anthony Montgomery and Kedric Golston by drawing double teams to his side.

His presence will also help the cornerbacks and safeties by forcing offenses to keep additional, would-be pass catchers in to help block and speed the release of the ball from the opposing quarterback.

So, to answer my own question: No, they weren't bad at all!