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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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Jordan Reed ruled out for Redskins vs. Cardinals; Vernon Davis set for start

Jordan Reed ruled out for Redskins vs. Cardinals; Vernon Davis set for start

After separating his shoulder against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, Jordan Reed has officially been ruled out for the Redskins game in Arizona. 

Friday, coach Jay Gruden said Reed doesn't have sufficient range of motion to play against the Cardinals but remains hopeful he'll be healthy for the following game against the Eagles. Reed estimated that range was at about 30 percent Monday.

The decision to sit Reed against the Cardinals comes with little surprise. The 'Skins star tight end did not practice all week, even after having a few extra days to rest after the game last Thursday.

Playing without Reed is obviously a blow to the Washington offense, but No. 2 tight end Vernon Davis has been a strong development for Gruden's team this year. Thursday, Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay said that while losing Reed is a blow to the unit, the team can run almost all of the same plays and sets with Davis that they can with Reed. 

"Fortunately you’re in a situation where you feel really good about your tight end in Vernon Davis where he’s playing at an extremely high level in both phases in the run and in the pass game," McVay said.

As good as Davis has been, he's not the dynamic threat Reed presents. In the second half against Dallas — while playing with the injured shoulder — Reed hauled in two touchdowns and played arguably the best football of his career.

On the season Reed has 59 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns despite missing two games earlier this year dealing with a concussion.

Davis has played in all 11 games this season and has 31 catches for 450 yards and two TDs. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Many considered the Cardinals a Super Bowl contender this season, though the team has not performed to that level so far in 2016. One huge problem for Arizona - protecting quarterback Carson Palmer. 

In its last four games, Arizona has given up 16 sacks on Palmer, including a staggering eight sacks against the Carolina Panthers. In the last two games, Palmer has gone down six times, and both games have been losses. 

With weapons like wideout Larry Fitzgerald and running back David Johnson, Palmer has lots of options to move the ball. That's why Jay Gruden knows how important it is for his front seven to get home.

"It’s going to start with the pass rush," Gruden said. "If Carson [Palmer] has all day to throw and give Larry time to do double moves and stem you inside and vertical and then get back out or break it back across, I don’t care how big you are or how fast you are, it’s going to be hard."

In all six Cardinals losses, Palmer has been sacked at least two times, and in four of the losses, Palmer has gone down at least four times. Beyond the Panthers' eight sacks, the Bills brought down the Cards QB five times, and both the Seahawks and Vikings got to Palmer four times.

While the sack totals stand out, Washington's Preston Smith knows each week is different in the NFL.

"Every game you’re fired up because you feel like it's an opporttunity to get out there and get sacks," Smith said. "You don’t think about what another team did, they’re going to play us different."

Talking on the latest #RedskinsTalk Podcast, Redskins linebacker Trent Murphy acknowledged that the defense knows how beat up the Cardinals' offensive line is. Murphy, who has seven sacks on the season, added that he's 'drooling' for this matchup and the opportunity to take advantage of the Arizona vulnerabilities up front. (Listen to the full podcast below.)

Bruce Arians knows his team is undermanned on the line, and the Arizona offense will be creative to protect Palmer.

"You have to help them," Arians said of his O-line. "You have got to stay balanced and hopefully not get into a situation where it’s a throw, throw, throw game because then you’re putting them in harm’s way and your quarterback in harm’s way."

It doesn't help that in his 14th season, Palmer is probably one of the least mobile quarterbacks in the NFL. After matching up against Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott in their last two games, the Redskins defense knows Palmer won't move nearly as much, though that doesn't mean he's neccesarily easier to get down.

"You’re not going against a mobile quarterback but you still got to get to that spot," Smith said. "Carson’s a good quarterback."

Linebacker Mason Foster said that sacks aren't as important as consistent pressure. 

"On a great quarterback like that you want consistent pressure all day long. Make things tough on him, you don’t want a clean pocket," Foster said. "If you have pressure in his face all day and you don’t get no sacks, I think that's a success."

Even at 36, Palmer is still a dangerous quarterback. He's thrown for nearly 3,000 yards this year with a beat-up offensive line and missing one start. But numbers are numbers, and the data shows that if the 'Skins pass rushers can get Palmer to the ground, the chances of a Washington win shoot right up. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!