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Redskins' Reed still learning

Redskins' Reed still learning

Kyle Shanahan knew this was coming for Jordan Reed.

The team’s third-round draft choice missed all of minicamp and OTAs with a quad problem. Reed did get some time in catching passes from Robert Griffin III off to the side but that’s no substitute for being in the lineup while the plays are being installed.

At the end of minicamp, Shanahan was asked what effect missing that time would have on him when he got to training camp.

“I think any rookie who comes in, there’s always a time where they’ve got to get worse before they get better,” he said. “You know you throw a lot at them, they try and take it all in and they usually struggle and then by the time they come back to camp you hope that they’ve been through it and can start getting better.”

When he got to camp, Reed missed about a week of practice after he suffered a bruised foot. That cost him even more time.

He is a good enough athlete to overcome not knowing the fine points of the offense to an extent but it caught up with him. Reed did catch his first pro pass but he later made a mistake that cost his team possession of the ball and possibly some points.

In a play in the red zone he ran the wrong route and Rex Grossman ended up throwing the ball right at Steelers defensive back Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith. It looked like a bad play for Grossman, who has a reputation for being a turnover machine. But in reality, Reed should have cut in front of the defender where he would have been able to catch the pass.

Reed will learn to be at the right place at the right time someday. Until then, his coaches and teammates and Redskins fans will have to learn to live with a few rookie moments.

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Fumbles not bouncing the Redskins' way this year

Fumbles not bouncing the Redskins' way this year

As Kirk Cousins likes to say, each season is its own entity. Sometimes things that went well for you in one 16-game stretch in one year won’t got well during a 16-game stretch in subsequent years. And that is the case with the Redskins and recovering opponents’ fumbles.

In 2015 the Redskins were scooping up loose balls all over the place. Opponents put it on the carpet 36 times and the Redskins recovered a league-leading 16 of them. Doing the math, they recovered the ball 44.4 percent of the time.

This year, with the same defensive coordinator and many of the same players on defense, it’s a different story. Through 12 games, the Redskins have forced 18 fumbles and recovered seven. Projecting it out over a 16-game season, they are on pace to force 24 fumbles and recover 9, a 37.5 percent recovery rate.

However, the decrease in the rate of fumble recoveries has not hurt the Redskins as much as you might think. This year they are on pace score about as many points after fumbles as they did last year.

In 2015 they started the average drive following a fumble recovery at their own 46. They drove for two touchdowns and three field goals. The Redskins returned one fumble for a touchdown so they got a total of 30 points off of fumbles.

This year they started at their own 36 on average and they have scored two touchdowns and two field goals on drives and they have no fumble returns for touchdowns. With 20 points through 12 games, they are on pace to score 27 points because of recovering fumbles.

One thing that must be noted here is that the effect of recovering fumbles goes beyond just scoring points after doing so. Even if the offense goes three and out after a fumble recovery the other team’s drive got stopped and after the punt field position gets flipped.

Also, timing is everything. The fumble that went out of the end zone following the Ravens’ interception in Week 5 saved seven points in a six-point Redskins win. Josh Norman’s forced fumble in the fourth quarter against the Packers didn’t have quite the same impact as the one in the Ravens game but it did help them wrap up an important win.

And we are looking at a small sample size so the projections could change in a major way. If the Redskins recover two fumbles on Sunday and turn them into 10 points they would be closer to last year’s pace for recoveries and ahead of 2015 for points off of fumble recoveries.

In any case, that the Redskins are recovering fewer fumbles this year than last should not be surprising. As the stat guys like to say, fumble recoveries aren’t “sticky” from year to year. Teams that recover a lot of fumbles one year don’t tend to repeat it year after year. There is a lot of luck involved; nowhere is the bounce of the oblong ball more decisive than when hits the ground.