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Need to Know: Redskins' 2012 pass defense better than we thought?

Need to Know: Redskins' 2012 pass defense better than we thought?

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 20, five days before the Redskins start training camp.

Pass defense not as bad as advertised?

The Redskins had pass defense issues last year; anyone who even casually watched the games would be able to tell you that. Only two teams allowed more yards through the air than they did and moments like Victor Cruz zooming past the secondary to catch the game-winning touchdown bomb from Eli Manning in the late going are seared into the brains of many observers.

But yards allowed is at best a crude measure of effectiveness and isolated plays do not tell the whole story. If you look at some other measures of pass defense the Redskins do not come off so poorly.

The first thing to note is that no team had more passes attempted against them than the Redskins did. Opponents threw at them 636 times so it makes sense that they would give up a lot of yards through the air.

The Redskins were 21st in the league in opponents’ yards per passing attempt at 7.4. For perspective, the Saints and Giants were the worst here at 8.1 yards per attempt, the Steelers were the best at 6.0 and the average was 7.1. The Redskins aren’t where they want to be here but they’re not in laughingstock territory either.

Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders wrote “If you have to grab one statistic to evaluate a pass defense, [passer] rating allowed is a pretty good one.” Passer rating takes interceptions and touchdown passes into account as well as attempts and completions. The Redskins’ opponents’ passer rating was 87.0, 18th in the league. The worst rating was the Chiefs at 99.9, the best belonged to the Cardinals at 71.2 and the NFL average was 83.8. Again, the Redskins are more mediocre than awful here.

There seems to be a solid correlation between ranking well in opponents’ passer rating and winning games. Of the top 12 teams in that category, nine—the Bears, Seahawks, Packers, Falcons, 49ers, Broncos, Texans, Ravens, and Bengals—won 10 games or more. Only the Cardinals, who had major issues with their own quarterbacks, finished with a losing record.

Working without a first-round draft pick and with a salary cap that was $18 million light, the Redskins did about as well as they could in addressing the secondary. They signed free agent cornerback E. J. Biggers and drafted three defensive backs. The moves may not bring major, instant improvement to the Redskins’ pass defense. But maybe they don’t have as far to go to be an effective pass defense than many of us think.

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Talking about the knee of III

In case you missed it

Days until: Training camp starts 5; Preseason opener vs. Titans 19; Eagles @ Redskins 51

Tandler on Twitter
Note that RG3 not obligated to participate fully in camp if he's not on PUP. Can do virtually nothing if he is on PUP. #Redskins #RGIII

— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) July 19, 2013

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Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan spoke to CBS Sports' Pete Prisco about the loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl and how the Falcons will rebound in 2017. 

In the process, he took a shot at former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's play-calling and put some of the blame on his style of coaching for the disastrous fourth quarter.

"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in," Ryan said. "As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."

Those are some harsh words from Ryan and not exactly a ringing endorsement of Kyle Shanahan. This loss will surely haunt him should he never get back to another Super Bowl.

"There's always going to be a little sting," Ryan said. "You never lose that. Hopefully we've got four Super Bowl victories after this one, but that doesn't mean we won't still be like, 'Damn, let's talk about the other one we should've had."

Redskins fans may be able to relate to Matt Ryan's pain as some were vocal about Kyle Shanahan's play-calling during his time in Washington. Maybe Kirk Cousins takes notice of Ryan's comments as well before he considers San Francisco next off-season.

MORE REDSKINS: REDSKINS STATEMENT WAS A MISTAKE, BUT WON'T HAVE IMPACT ON THE FIELD

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

RELATED: Who's next at QB for the Redskins?

Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

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