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Need to Know: Why did the Redskins struggle on third down in 2014?

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Need to Know: Why did the Redskins struggle on third down in 2014?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, July 2, 28 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

 

Historically bad

When the Redskins do something poorly, they don’t mess around.

In 2013 when they had some bad special teams play, they were historically bad. Football Outsiders has been tracking special teams data since 1989. Of all the teams since then only one, the 2000 Buffalo Bills had worse special teams play than the 2013 Redskins.

Last year’s team improved the special teams from awful to merely bad but they did reach historic depths in a different important category. The folks at FO tell us that only three teams since 1990 have been as bad as the 2014 Redskins were on third downs. One of those teams was the 2002 expansion Texans so they should get a pass. For the record, the other two were the 2004 Bears and the 1992 Seahawks.

FO takes more into account here than the simple conversion percentage, which was 31.5 percent, 30th in the NFL in 2014. Although the post doesn’t specify, FO metrics generally take into account the quality of the opponent, success rate compared to the rest of the league, and other such factors.

When Jay Gruden and company were asked about third down problems the usual response was that they had too far to go on third down, that they needed to be in third and shorter yardage more often. But on the average third down Washington had 7.5 yards to go; the league average was 7.3 to go. That’s a difference of about seven inches, not enough to say that the Redskins were considerably worse off. The Bucs had 8.6 yards to go on their average third down and they managed to convert 38.4 percent of the time, a conversion rate nearly 25 percent better than Washington’s.

In this post, Mike Tanier looks at some of the issues with the Redskins offense in general, including the third-down problem. He breaks down the failed third down attempts. I won’t go into all of them here (the post is well worth your time to read) but one that caught my eye was 35 pass completions that did not gain enough to make a first down. Fans of all teams get frustrated when their team throws short of the sticks (the average NFL team had 27 third-down completions that didn’t result in a first) but the problem seemed to be particularly acute with the Redskins. Passes like Colt McCoy’s one-yard completion to Jordan Reed on third and two in the fourth quarter in Dallas are plays you just don’t see many other teams make.

So while it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a shorter distance to go on third down, giving yourself a chance to convert by being just a touch more aggressive would help as well. As Tanier wrote in the article, "If you don't have a seven-yard pass in your playbook for 3rd-and-medium, then frankly, you don't have an NFL offense."

It seems likely that the Redskins will improve on third down this year if only because, as was the case with special teams after the 2013 debacle, there is nowhere to go but up.

Timeline

—It’s been 186 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 73 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 28; Preseason opener @ Browns 42; final cuts 65

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Draft talk, Ihenacho out

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Draft talk, Ihenacho out

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 25, 33 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 23
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 48
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 60
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 112
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 160

The Redskins week that was

Ihenacho's Redskins career appears to be over—This is based on some tweets he sent out; the team has said nothing officially or unofficially. Duke Ihenacho started 10 games at safety for the Redskins and they still don’t have enough at his position to fill out a depth chart. But apparently, they believe that Ihenacho is not part of the solution going forward and they will not offer Ihenacho, an unrestricted free agent, a contract. I think he’ll get another shot somewhere; he turns 28 in June and when he’s healthy he can play a role on defense and do some special teams.

Will the Redskins shift to drafting for need? Scot McCloughan always preached drafting the best player available rather than drafting for need. However, no GM drafts purely BPA and none draft strictly for need. How will the Redskins go with Bruce Allen having the final say and with Jay Gruden likely to have a strong voice in the draft room? Check out the post.

2017 NFL Mock Draft 6.0—A good job by Ben Standig here although I’m kind of skeptical of his first-round pick for the Redskins for reasons outlined here. And I kind of like his second round pick but I’d think he would be better in the fourth.  

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

Could Miami's Kaaya be the Redskins' heir apparent at quarterback? I think that some Redskins fans have their fingers stuck in their ears and are yelling, “I can’t hear you” when it comes to the quarterback situation. The reality is that there is a very good chance that Kirk Cousins will be gone in 2018. Why wait until he’s gone to start developing his replacement? You can argue that Kaaya is not the guy but there has to be a plan.

Setting the odds on the Redskins' first-round draft pick—Mock drafts are all over the place with the Redskins picks, which is to be expected with pick No. 17. While I respect any analyst who can do a full first-round mock draft, it’s just impossible for them to be up on every team’s depth chart and thinking. As noted, nobody is sure how the dynamic of Allen and Gruden (and we could throw in college scouting director Scott Campbell there as well) will work in the draft room. While things might clear up as April 27 approaches, a big surprise at No. 17 wouldn’t be a surprise, if you know what I mean.

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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What's cuter than the way Kirk Cousins found out his baby's gender? Nothing

What's cuter than the way Kirk Cousins found out his baby's gender? Nothing

What's the cutest thing you've ever seen in your whole, entire life? Whatever that thing is, be prepared for it to slide down to the second spot, because what you're about to see is absolutely going to move up to No. 1 (and then stay there forever).

Two weeks ago, Kirk Cousins and his wife, Julie, announced that they were expecting. That announcement, which was posted on Julie's Instagram, was really adorable in its own right — Mrs. Cousins shared a photo of the couple's dog, Bentley, who was wearing a sign that read, "Mom & Dad are getting me a human!"

On Friday, though, Kirk put up a video on his Instagram that revealed their future child's gender. What else did that video do, you ask? Well, it only made every future gender reveal irrelevant, since none will ever top what the Cousinses did.

MORE REDSKINS: VERNON DAVIS "CAN'T FATHOM" NFL'S CELEBRATION RULES

Gender Reveal! Had to stand close so it wouldn't get intercepted... and still almost missed ha! IT'S A...

A post shared by Kirk Cousins (@kirk.cousins) on

OMG. O. M. G. OMG.

The regular season may be months away, but with that toss, Kirk Cousins is already 1-for-1 (yes, the pass was low, but a completion is a completion) with a perfect quarterback rating.