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Examining Redskins' RG3's passing under pressure

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Examining Redskins' RG3's passing under pressure

The Redskins are taking some steps to try to help Robert Griffin III succeed at quarterback.

—They spent their top draft pick on a new right tackle, Brandon Scherff, to help plug up the leaky offensive line.

—They are going to emphasize power running more, hoping to put Griffin in more favorable down and distance scenarios when he needs to pass.

—You could even say that the upgrades on defense, with six free agent acquisitions and a high second-round pick going on that side of the ball, have the potential to help Griffin succeed by not being put in situations where he is playing from behind.

That’s all good and it should be noted that these upgrades and changes will also help Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy should either one of them end up behind center. But the focus is on Griffin. However, for Griffin to succeed the person that can help him do that the most is Griffin himself.

Let’s take a look at an article from Pro Football Focus to see one of the issues that Griffin needs to fix in order to be successful. In looking at quarterbacks under pressure, they found that Griffin was under pressure when he dropped back to pass 44.9 percent of the time, more than any other NFL quarterback.

Before Griffin’s defenders get all riled up here and insist that he could never succeed behind the offensive line he has played with the last two year, hold on a minute. According to the writer, this “under pressure” stat is much more a reflection of a quarterback who holds on to the ball longer than others than it is of the quality of the offensive line.

Certainly it is reflective of some jailbreaks by the defense but it also has to do with Griffin being indecisive when surveying the field. But there’s not point in dwelling on it here because that’s not the most alarming thing about Griffin that was in this article.

Griffin’s PFF score while he was under pressure was -2.6. Zero is average so that’s not too bad. He was better under pressure than Joe Flacco, Cousins, Andy Dalton and both of the Manning brothers.

But you look at Griffin’s score when he is not under pressure and it’s -7.9. Yes, he was worse when he was not under pressure than he was when he was under pressure. (For the record, Cousins’ PFF score without pressure is a +2.7)

Let me insert a sample size warning here. Griffin dropped back only 247 times last year (214 pass attempts, 33 sacks) so a few things going wrong while he wasn’t under pressure can skew the numbers.

Still, it has to be somewhat alarming that Griffin is not substantially better when he does have blocking and is able to make the decision to throw before the pressure gets to him. If he can’t thrive even when the line is doing its job and he is making decisions quickly it is going to be difficult for him to be successful.

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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