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Need to Know: What is the single biggest problem the Redskins and RG3 have to fix?

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Need to Know: What is the single biggest problem the Redskins and RG3 have to fix?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, July 14, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

RG3’s biggest issue

Robert Griffin III is the most analyzed athlete in Washington, perhaps in the country. When training camp starts later this month every step on his dropback, the position of his feet when he makes an errant throw, his arm motion, his demeanor after a good play and after a mistake, and what he says to reporters will be under the microscope. And after the season he had last year, looking awful all too frequently, such scrutiny is to be expected.

But perhaps things are not are not as complex as they might appear to be. It seems that Griffin could improve a great deal if he just cut down on the number of sacks he takes.

For the purposes of looking at this, let’s set aside the question of who is to blame for how many of the 33 sacks he took in 247 dropbacks in 2014. Let’s just say that the number of sacks can get cut by some combination of improved pass blocking by line, backs, and tight ends, quicker decision making by the quarterback, the defense keeping the score closer so they’re not in as many obvious passing situations, and so on.

Griffin was sacked on 13.4 percent of his dropbacks last year. Before you can ask the rhetorical question, yes, that’s bad. The league sack rate was 6.3 percent. Kirk Cousins, playing behind the same line as Griffin did, had a 3.8 percent sack rate.

What if Griffin had been able to get sacked at the same rate as Cousins and do everything else the same?

Let’s use net yards/pass attempt (NY/A, the formula is sacks/(pass attempts+sacks)) as the metric here. It incorporates yards lost to sacks into the more familiar yards per attempt stat. The league average for NY/A is 6.4, Griffin’s was 5.9. The league leader was Aaron Rodgers at 7.6, followed by Tony Romo and Peyton Manning at 7.5. Griffin was 25th, in between Geno Smith and Kyle Orton.

What would Griffin’s NY/A have been if he had been sacked at the same rate as Cousins? He would have taken 10 sacks instead of 33 and his yards lost to sacks would have shrunk from 227 to 69. Griffin could have attempted 23 more passes. His completion rate on all passes last year was 68.7 percent but we’ll figure he would complete 60 percent of those additional passes since he would throw some away to avoid getting sacked. At 7.9 yards per attempt, his average on the season, that comes to an additional 110 passing yards.

Add the additional passing yards to the 158 yards that would not have been lost due to sacks and Griffin would have had 268 more net passing yards. That increases his NY/A to a stellar 8.4. Remember that Rodgers led the league at 7.6.

Is reducing Griffin’s sack percentage from 13.4 all the way to 3.8 percent too big a task? It’s hard to say but there were four quarterbacks who started 16 games who had a sack rate of 3.9 percent or better. Sure, two of them were Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. But one of them was rookie Derek Carr of the Raiders. I don’t think that aspiring to the same sack rate as Oakland’s QB, and one that Cousins achieved a year ago, is too tall an order.

Even if Griffin and company can't get the sack rate down below four percent, improvement into neighborhood of the league average of 6.3 percent would offer a big boost to the passing game.

The sacks are not the only problem with the offense in general and with Griffin in particular. But it seems that fixing the pass protection and the issues Griffin had with holding on to the ball for too long are remedies that will bear the most fruit. This likely is priority No. 1 at Redskins Park.

Timeline

—It’s been 198 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 61 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 16; Preseason opener @ Browns 30; final cuts 53

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast: JP & Tandler break down Redskins draft targets, and players to avoid

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast: JP & Tandler break down Redskins draft targets, and players to avoid

How plausible is a draft day trade? Could the Redskins move up? And what to do about all those 'diluted samples'? JP Finlay and Rich Tandler break it all down.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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

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Redskins roster by the numbers: Defense

Redskins roster by the numbers: Defense

The Redskins currently have 75 players on their roster. They are about to add some more in the draft and as undrafted free agents. They can have up to 90 players on their offseason roster. Year after year the distribution of those players to positions are consistent. We can look at what they have and see what they need to sign to get through OTAs, minicamp, and training camp.

Let’s break down the numbers by position and see where they will need to add players to get to where they want to be going into training camp. Last week we looked at the offense; today we’ll look at the numbers on defense.

End

Have: 6
Need: 8

Just like in a game, you want plenty of players to rotate through the line in the heat of training camp. They could carry one or two additional players here since they are legitimately in search of players who can have an impact beyond starters Terrelle McClain and Stacy McGee and pass rushing project Anthony Lanier.  

Nose Tackle

Have: 2
Need: 4

Like with the ends, you want to have a few big guys to rotate in when it gets hot in Richmond. It would be surprising if the Redskins didn’t add a nose tackle to the mix in the draft, probably on Saturday.

Inside linebacker

Have: 9
Need: 8

If the Redskins take an inside linebacker in the draft, as many expect that will, this position would get very crowded. They could keep as many as six on the final 53-man roster if there are a couple of key special teams players in the group.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

Outside linebacker

Have: 7
Need: 7

They could keep an extra one or two if they find some in the draft. You can’t have too many pass rushers, although they have kept just four on the final roster recently.  

Cornerback

Have: 7
Need: 8

It has always seemed to be a little odd to me that they’ll bring in a dozen wide receivers and only seven or eight corners.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often

Safety

Have: 7
Need: 7

The depth chart here is unusual in that all seven players have significant NFL playing time; there is no “training camp fodder” here. If the draft one, an experienced player might be let go.  

Total defensive players under contract: 38
Total needed for camp: 41

There are 34 offensive players and three specialists on the roster, making the total 75. If they don’t make deals and use all 10 of their draft picks that will leave just five spots to sign undrafted free agents. They likely will want to sign more than that meaning that some of the players currently on the roster will end up getting cut, particularly those on the defensive side.

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.