Quick Links

Big deficits were rare for 2012 Redskins

mike-and-kyle-shanahan.png

Big deficits were rare for 2012 Redskins

There have been a lot of questions about the Redskins’ play calling during their first two games, particularly the lack of runs by Robert Griffin III. Both Mike and Kyle Shanahan have said that it has been game situations, not Griffin’s health, that have put the shackles on the quarterback who was so dynamic last year.

Here is Kyle’s explanation:
“I just think it’s been the situation in games. It’s definitely not the plan going into it. I don’t think in any game last year we were ever behind that much. In every game last year it was a pretty close game except for maybe the Pittsburgh game, but from what I remember it was still close late in the third quarter. It wasn’t three scores in the second quarter. When you get into a two-minute type offense at the start of a third quarter, you are not going to run him intentionally. If people aren’t open, then the quarterback scrambles, but people were open in these two games and I think that’s why he’s had pretty good statistics throwing the ball, but you scramble when no one is there and the defense allows you to and it hasn’t been that way.”
Let’s take a look at this year compared to last year and see how this explanation holds up.

Here’s a game-by-game look at the largest deficit they faced in each game last year and the quarter in which they faced it (games won are in bold).

NO 7-3 Q1
STL 31-28 Q4
CIN 38-24 Q4
TB 22-21 Q4
ATL 24-17 Q4
MIN 9-0 Q1
NYG 20-13 Q4
PIT 27-9 Q3
CAR 21-6 Q4
PHI Never trailed
DAL 3-0 Q1
NYG 16-10 Q3
BAL 28-20 Q4
CLE 7-0 Q1
PHI 7-0 Q1
DAL 7-0 Q1
SEA 24-14 Q4

It was somewhat surprising to see that they trailed at some point in every game but one; the only wire-to-wire win was the first game against the Eagles. But the deficits were only more than two scores once, during the game that Shanahan noted, the loss in Pittsburgh. That one was 20-6 at halftime and after a Kai Forbath field goal the Steelers pounded out a drive and scored to make it 27-9 with 5:17 left. That 18-point deficit was their biggest at any point during the season.

The only other times thy got down by two scores were against the Vikings and Bengals. In the Minnesota game they answered three first-quarter field goals by scoring 24 unanswered points. Cincinnati scored touchdowns on two fourth-quarter drives to turn a 24-24 tie into a 38-24 game midway through the final period.

This year it only took until 1:02 was left in the first half of their first game before the Redskins faced a bigger deficit than they faced in all of 2012. That’s when Michael Vick scored to put the Eagles up by 19 at 26-7. A minute and a half into the second half Philly scored again to go up by 26 points.

That stood as the high deficit of the year only until 8:20 remained in the third quarter against the Packers when they fell behind 31-0.

That’s a micro look at the issues. The website Football Perspective has a way of taking the macro view. They have a stat they call the game script. They track each team’s lead or deficit every second of every game and then use that to calculate that teams average margin of lead or deficit during the game (or season).

In 2012, the Redskins’ game script was a plus-1.9. This year the game script against the Eagles was minus-12 and when they played the Packers it was minus-17.9.

So even during their 3-6 start they were more competitive in every game and in most cases much more competitive. It would logically follow, then, that the play calling this year would be vastly different from what it was last year.

It should be noted that we don’t really know if Griffin is healthy enough to run as much as he did last year. For the time being, the way the games have gone has rendered that a moot point.

Quick Links

Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Many considered the Cardinals a Super Bowl contender this season, though the team has not performed to that level so far in 2016. One huge problem for Arizona - protecting quarterback Carson Palmer. 

In its last four games, Arizona has given up 16 sacks on Palmer, including a staggering eight sacks against the Carolina Panthers. In the last two games, Palmer has gone down six times, and both games have been losses. 

With weapons like wideout Larry Fitzgerald and running back David Johnson, Palmer has lots of options to move the ball. That's why Jay Gruden knows how important it is for his front seven to get home.

"It’s going to start with the pass rush," Gruden said. "If Carson [Palmer] has all day to throw and give Larry time to do double moves and stem you inside and vertical and then get back out or break it back across, I don’t care how big you are or how fast you are, it’s going to be hard."

In all six Cardinals losses, Palmer has been sacked at least two times, and in four of the losses, Palmer has gone down at least four times. Beyond the Panthers' eight sacks, the Bills brought down the Cards QB five times, and both the Seahawks and Vikings got to Palmer four times.

While the sack totals stand out, Washington's Preston Smith knows each week is different in the NFL.

"Every game you’re fired up because you feel like it's an opporttunity to get out there and get sacks," Smith said. "You don’t think about what another team did, they’re going to play us different."

Talking on the latest #RedskinsTalk Podcast, Redskins linebacker Trent Murphy acknowledged that the defense knows how beat up the Cardinals' offensive line is. Murphy, who has seven sacks on the season, added that he's 'drooling' for this matchup and the opportunity to take advantage of the Arizona vulnerabilities up front. (Listen to the full podcast below.)

Bruce Arians knows his team is undermanned on the line, and the Arizona offense will be creative to protect Palmer.

"You have to help them," Arians said of his O-line. "You have got to stay balanced and hopefully not get into a situation where it’s a throw, throw, throw game because then you’re putting them in harm’s way and your quarterback in harm’s way."

It doesn't help that in his 14th season, Palmer is probably one of the least mobile quarterbacks in the NFL. After matching up against Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott in their last two games, the Redskins defense knows Palmer won't move nearly as much, though that doesn't mean he's neccesarily easier to get down.

"You’re not going against a mobile quarterback but you still got to get to that spot," Smith said. "Carson’s a good quarterback."

Linebacker Mason Foster said that sacks aren't as important as consistent pressure. 

"On a great quarterback like that you want consistent pressure all day long. Make things tough on him, you don’t want a clean pocket," Foster said. "If you have pressure in his face all day and you don’t get no sacks, I think that's a success."

Even at 36, Palmer is still a dangerous quarterback. He's thrown for nearly 3,000 yards this year with a beat-up offensive line and missing one start. But numbers are numbers, and the data shows that if the 'Skins pass rushers can get Palmer to the ground, the chances of a Washington win shoot right up. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

 

Quick Links

Poll: What is your approval rating for Redskins coach Jay Gruden?

Poll: What is your approval rating for Redskins coach Jay Gruden?

As always, hit the poll and then head to the comments section here and talk about your answer, or reply on Twitter.