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Big deficits were rare for 2012 Redskins

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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.

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Enemy Intel: Yes, Redskins fans, you need to root for the Cowboys again

Enemy Intel: Yes, Redskins fans, you need to root for the Cowboys again

Here is my weekly Redskins-centric spin around the NFL:

Before we get going, let’s line up the NFL wild card contenders by current seed and their remaining four games.

Giants (8-4): Cowboys, Lions, @Eagles, @Redskins
Bucs (7-5): Saints, @Cowboys, @Saints, Panthers
Redskins (6-5-1): @Eagles, Panthers, @Bears, Giants
Vikings (6-6): @Jaguars, Colts, @Packers, Bears
Packers (6-6): Seahawks, @Bears, Vikings, @Lions
Cardinals (5-6-1): @Dolphins, Saints, @Seahawks, @Rams
Saints (5-7): @Bucs, @Cardinals, Bucs, @Falcons
Eagles (5-7): Redskins, @Ravens, Giants, Cowboys

—The Redskins can knock the Eagles out of any practical chance of making the playoffs with a win on Sunday. An Eagles loss would mean they could finish no better than 8-8 and that is highly unlikely to get it done this year.

—For a second straight week, Redskins fans need to root for Cowboys to win. Or for their opponent to lose. Some wanted to make that distinction last week when Cowboys played the Vikings and the optimal outcome for the Redskins was a Dallas win. However you want to look at it, a Giants loss to Dallas could move the Redskins to within a half game of the No. 5 seed.

MORE REDSKINS: Assessing the four remainig opponents

—There should be no hesitation about pulling for the Saints to beat the Bucs. A Washington win and a Tampa Bay loss puts the Redskins back into playoff position with the No. 6 seed. The Bucs are 2.5-point favorites at home. They are the hot team, coming in with four straight wins while New Orleans has lost three of four. The Saints are on the fringe of contention but Redskins fans need to pull for the teams ahead of Washington in the standings.

—The Redskins can’t look for much help when it comes to the team immediately behind them in the standings. The Vikings visit the Jaguars, who are locked in to yet another season of double-digit losses. You might be tempted to look for the home underdog to put up a fight and they might. But Blake Bortles has thrown three pick sixes this year and the Vikings have returned two interceptions for TDs this year. Look for such a play to be decisive and for the Vikings to remain tight with Washington in the standings.

—The other team a half game behind the Redskins is the Packers. They host the Seahawks in what could be very snowy conditions in Green Bay. Seattle is a three-point favorite but if the weather gets crazy anything could happen. Redskins fans need to root for the Seahawks, for obvious reasons.

RELATED: Three Redskins out on Sunday, Reed questionable

—The Cardinals creeped back into contention with their win over the Redskins. That win and the fact that they have a tie on their ledger means that the Redskins do not want to finish with the same record as Arizona. This is one of the few situations where a tiebreaker would matter. It’s an easy call to pull for them to fall to the AFC Dolphins.

—I went 2-1 last week, winning with the Patriots over the Rams and the Seahawks over the Panthers. I have four NFL picks this week, all of them road favorites: the Redskins -1 on the road over the Eagles, the Cowboys -3 at the Giants, the Falcons -6 over the Rams in L.A., and the Seahawks giving three to the Packers.

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Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' four remaining opponents

Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' four remaining opponents

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 10, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: No media availability

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 9; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 14; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 22

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Around Redskins Park

The Redskins have four games remaining on their schedule. Three wins would give them a record of 9-6-1 and a very good shot at the playoffs. Four will almost certainly get them a ticket to keep playing; two wins or fewer will have them needing a whole lot of help to make the postseason

Let’s take a look at the Redskins’ remaining four opponents and revisit the confidence level on the Redskins’ chances of beating each one of them. (I first did this exercise a few weeks ago).

@Eagles, 5-7, weighted DVOA via Football Outsiders, 15.3% (ranked 5th)
The Eagles looked like playoff contenders for about half of the season but they have taken a tumble back to earth, losing five of their last six. Right now the Redskins are the better team, although their long injury list is an area for concern. The Eagles appear to be in some degree of disarray after their coach accused some unnamed players of giving less than full effort. Confidence that the Redskins will win: High

Panthers, 4-8, DVOA -7.5% (25th)
They won’t be able to defend their NFC championship much longer. By the time this game comes around they could be either eliminated or on the verge of being mathematically out of the playoffs. Their problems are numerous including big issues at cornerback (too bad they didn’t have a guy who could have helped franchise tagged) and an offensive line that has been injury-wracked all year. Still, Cam Newton is a scary quarterback and he still has tight end Greg Olsen and receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Ted Ginn Jr. If the Redskins get into a shootout they could be in trouble. Confidence: Moderately high

@Bears, 3-9, DVOA -3.0%, (24th)
Matt Barkley is the Bears’ third starting QB this season and in most statistical categories he’s the worst of the three. The Bears have been hit by injuries as hard as any NFL team with multiple starters on injured reserve. They probably would have struggled even with those players healthy; without them they are one of the five worst teams in the NFL. The one thing to beware of is the late December weather in Chicago, which could randomize the outcome to an extent. Confidence: Very high

Giants, 8-4, DVOA 5.0%, (12th)
The new players on the Giants’ defense were just starting to gel when end Jason Pierre-Paul’s season ended after sports hernia surgery. Their defense, with the No. 7 DVOA (-9.6%), won’t collapse but it won’t be as strong. Eli Manning’s stats are down a tick from last year but as long as he has Odell Beckham to throw to the Giants won’t be totally stymied on offense. This one is hard to get a good feel for this far out, not knowing what might be at stake for either team. Confidence: Moderate

For comparison purposes, the 6-5-1 Redskins have a DVOA of 9.8% (10th)

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