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Jaws on the Redskins' O

Jaws on the Redskins' O

Ron Jaworski was the “Five Good Minutes” guest on PTI tonight and Wilbon and Tony K asked him about the Skins’ offense (emphasis added in both quotes): I though when Joe came in he did the right things; he got Clinton Portis, he got Mark Brunell, he had Rod Gardner and Laveranues Coles. But this offensive unit just hasn’t come together. The one thing I do see, and this is where Joe is going to have to adapt to the present-day NFL, I don’t see enough short passing. He’s back to those old days where it was a seven-step drop and you waited for things to happen down the field. You can’t do it with this offensive line. I think he’s got to go back to the three-step and five-step passing game and get the ball out of Mark Brunell’s hands quicker and I think that’s the adjustment he will make in the second half of the season. Even given the loss of Jon Jansen the offensive line has been a major disappointment and a lot of Brunell’s problems can be linked to his need to throw under pressure. If this is true—and with Jaws you know that he’s basing what he says on having looked at films and isn’t just talking off the top of his head—it’s a shame that Gibbs can’t run his offense because of his offensive line. The unit doesn’t need to be rebuilt but it could be upgraded at center and certainly better depth is needed (not an easy thing to acquire in today’s NFL in any case, much less when you have so much cap space allocated to “stars”).

In any case, the line should shut up about coming up with a catchy nickname until they actually accomplish something.

Then Tony asked if Brunell should be benched and Patrick Ramsey brought in: Certainly the leash is becoming a lot shorter. Patrick Ramsey is a guy who has tremendous upside and I’ve always liked (him). As you look at Brunell right now, if he doesn’t play better, you’re going to have to make the change to Patrick Ramsey and start looking to the future. Does giving Ramsey a shot necessarily mean that the Redskins are throwing in the towel on the season? I don’t think so. He can win games now.

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Fumbles not bouncing the Redskins' way this year

Fumbles not bouncing the Redskins' way this year

As Kirk Cousins likes to say, each season is its own entity. Sometimes things that went well for you in one 16-game stretch in one year won’t got well during a 16-game stretch in subsequent years. And that is the case with the Redskins and recovering opponents’ fumbles.

In 2015 the Redskins were scooping up loose balls all over the place. Opponents put it on the carpet 36 times and the Redskins recovered a league-leading 16 of them. Doing the math, they recovered the ball 44.4 percent of the time.

This year, with the same defensive coordinator and many of the same players on defense, it’s a different story. Through 12 games, the Redskins have forced 18 fumbles and recovered seven. Projecting it out over a 16-game season, they are on pace to force 24 fumbles and recover 9, a 37.5 percent recovery rate.

However, the decrease in the rate of fumble recoveries has not hurt the Redskins as much as you might think. This year they are on pace score about as many points after fumbles as they did last year.

In 2015 they started the average drive following a fumble recovery at their own 46. They drove for two touchdowns and three field goals. The Redskins returned one fumble for a touchdown so they got a total of 30 points off of fumbles.

This year they started at their own 36 on average and they have scored two touchdowns and two field goals on drives and they have no fumble returns for touchdowns. With 20 points through 12 games, they are on pace to score 27 points because of recovering fumbles.

One thing that must be noted here is that the effect of recovering fumbles goes beyond just scoring points after doing so. Even if the offense goes three and out after a fumble recovery the other team’s drive got stopped and after the punt field position gets flipped.

Also, timing is everything. The fumble that went out of the end zone following the Ravens’ interception in Week 5 saved seven points in a six-point Redskins win. Josh Norman’s forced fumble in the fourth quarter against the Packers didn’t have quite the same impact as the one in the Ravens game but it did help them wrap up an important win.

And we are looking at a small sample size so the projections could change in a major way. If the Redskins recover two fumbles on Sunday and turn them into 10 points they would be closer to last year’s pace for recoveries and ahead of 2015 for points off of fumble recoveries.

In any case, that the Redskins are recovering fewer fumbles this year than last should not be surprising. As the stat guys like to say, fumble recoveries aren’t “sticky” from year to year. Teams that recover a lot of fumbles one year don’t tend to repeat it year after year. There is a lot of luck involved; nowhere is the bounce of the oblong ball more decisive than when hits the ground.