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Need to Know: Can Cousins reduce the number of sacks the Redskins take?

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Need to Know: Can Cousins reduce the number of sacks the Redskins take?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, September 10, three days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Miami Dolphins.

Can Cousins help the Redskins cut down on sacks?

The Redskins quarterbacks had problems staying upright last year.

Opponents racked up 58 sacks against the Redskins last year. Only the Jaguars, with 72, allowed more.

Yes, the Redskins threw a lot but when you control for that and look at their sack percentage you come up with 9.6, still the second-worst performance in the league next to the Jaguars.

Yes, the offensive line had its weak links, perhaps more weak ones than strong ones. But a closer look at the numbers indicates that the quarterbacks likely had something to do with it.

Robert Griffin III, who started seven games, was sacked 13.3 percent of the times he dropped back to pass (33 sacks/247 drop backs). Colt McCoy was sacked 11.7 percent of his dropbacks (17/145) and Kirk Cousins on 3.8 percent (8/212).

As they sang on Sesame Street, one of these things is not like the others. Playing behind the same line as the other two quarterbacks Cousins got sacked a third as often as McCoy and three and a half times less often than Griffin.

Cousins’ sack rate wasn’t just the best on the team; it would have been one of the best in the league if he had thrown enough passes to qualify. If he had enough attempts he would have ranked fifth in the league, just behind Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

But they utilize the minimum attempts for a reason, to prevent making definitive judgments based on a small sample size. Cousins’ numbers were compiled over basically five games, about a third of the season. With that precaution about jumping to broad conclusions based on limited data, let’s look at how Cousins could help the Redskins’ offense.

As noted, the Redskins suffered 58 sacks last year. Had Cousins taken every drop back and maintained the sack rate he had last year the Redskins would have taken 20 sacks. They lost a total of 414 yards to sacks (7.1 per sack). With the lower sack rate they would have saved a total of 272 yards of field position.

But those 272 yards would not have been the only benefit of fewer sacks. You have to assume that the quarterbacks would have completed some passes when not getting sacked. So if they had 38 additional pass attempts and gained Cousins’ 2014 average of 8.4 yards per attempt they would have had an additional 319 yards passing. Add those to the 272 they would not have lost and you have an additional 591 net passing yards. That would move them from 11th in the league in passing yards to fifth.

There are a lot of numbers there and they’re both hypothetical and based on a small sample size. Still, it shows you how much taking fewer sacks can help the offense. There is no guarantee that they will do this if Cousins starts 16 games but it is certainly something to look for.

Timeline

—Former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann was born on this date in 1949.

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:40; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice (approx. 1:30)

—It’s been 256 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 3 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Rams @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 14; Eagles @ Redskins 24

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Will Jay Gruden increase his 'big role' in the Redskins' personnel process?

Will Jay Gruden increase his 'big role' in the Redskins' personnel process?

While it hasn’t been the best offseason for the Redskins organization in many respects it has been a good one for coach Jay Gruden. In the midst of turmoil over the status of general manager Scot McCloughan, Gruden got a two-year contract extension.

Although the final agreement on the deal came on March 4 in a steakhouse in Indianapolis during the NFL Combine, team president Bruce Allen said that talk of extending Gruden started much earlier.

“It was after the season, Dan [Snyder], Jay and I got together and we talked about the game plan because we’d made some changes on the coaching staff as well following the season,” Allen told CSN’s JP Finlay at the owners’ meetings in Arizona.

Gruden became the team’s head coach in 2014. His original five-year contract was set to expire after the 2018 season but now he is in the fold through 2020.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

Gruden’s record in Washington is 21-26-1, not the kind of record that normally has an organization rushing to extend a head coach. But after a 4-12 inaugural season, Gruden has led the Redskins to records of 9-7 and 8-7-1 the last two years. While by many standards that is a modest achievement, it marked the first back-to-back winning seasons in Washington since 1996-1997. The hope is that Gruden will keep them moving in the right direction.

The extension is likely to be popular in the locker room as players have come to like Gruden’s style.  

“His directness, his sarcasm and at the same time he gets his coaching point in but the guys do like his sense of humor as well,” said Allen. 

It’s not known if Gruden’s extension gives him more authority over personnel. His original deal gave him very little, with first Allen and then McCloughan having the final say in personnel selection and control over who makes the 53-man roster. Some NFL head coaches have final say in free agency acquisition and in the draft while many have control over who makes the 53.

MORE REDSKINS: 3 takeaways from talking to Allen

Gruden does have some informal influence when it comes to the draft.

“He’s got a big role,” said Allen. “First of all, he coordinates all the coaches’ reports and when we set the draft board, Jay will be up there. He watches every player who will be on the draft board and he will have an opinion.”

There is a power vacuum at Redskins Park with McCloughan gone. A new general manager won’t get hired until after the draft and the authority of that GM will have will be a matter of negotiation. It would not be surprising to see Gruden ending up with roster control.

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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Need to Know: What is the Redskins' plan for QB Kirk Cousins?

Need to Know: What is the Redskins' plan for QB Kirk Cousins?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 28, 30 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 20
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 45
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 57
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 109
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 157

Tuesday three and out

1. Maybe Bruce Allen and the Redskins have a master plan for saving the whole Kirk Cousins situation but right now it just looks like they’re stuck without a solution to paying $24 million to a quarterback who likely will be gone in a year. That’s money that could either be rolled over into future seasons if Cousins gets traded or used as a down payment on a long-term Cousins deal. Maybe there’s a master plan there somewhere but right now it looks an awful lot like the organization is just stumbling around in the dark, stubbing its toe while trying to find the light switch.

2. WR Brian Quick will cost the Redskins less against the salary cap than they are paying him. That’s because his contract takes advantage of the minimum salary benefit. He gets the sixth-year minimum salary of $775,000 plus an $85,000 signing bonus, a total of $860,000. Because of the minimum salary and low signing bonus the CBA rules allow the team to essentially discount the cap hit for the contract down to $695,000. The rule is designed so that younger players are necessarily cheaper, at least when it comes to the salary cap.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

3. Allen hinted that the Redskins won’t necessarily hire a general manager after the draft. While talking to colleague JP Finlay he said, “We’ll talk about what we need after the draft from a staffing standpoint.” Not “we’ll search high and low for the best GM in the business” but that needs will be examined. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

And out—Allen didn’t have much to say when JP asked about the stadium project that was a hot topic a year or so ago, only confirming that talks are ongoing. The fact that he had so little to say, not even some platitudes about the desire to build a great environment for the fans. Reading between the lines, this makes me think that a deal is getting close and the less that is said about it at this point the better. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe will be term limited out of office next January and the feeling is that he will want to leave a Redskins stadium deal as his legacy.

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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