One of the things we have heard coming from Redskins Park during the team’s current four-game losing streak is players and coaches bemoaning the fact that the team can’t put together a full 60-minute game of football. A look at the numbers shows this is true when you look at the offensive production in the first 30 minutes of play compared to the last 30 minutes.
During the first halves of the four games of the losing skid Washington hasn’t been a scoring machine but has been able to move the ball. In the first 30 minutes of those four games they have rushed for 423 yards (105 per game) and passed for 438 yards (109 yards/game). If the Redskins rolled up 214 yards in every half of their 12 games this season they would have over 5,100 yards of offense, a total that would rank second in the NFL.
It’s been a different story in the second half. The Redskins have rushed for a total of 198 yards (50/game) and passed for 441 (110/game). If they had gained that combined 160 yards in every half of their 12 games, they would have 3,840 total yards. That would rank 27th in the NFL.
There are many theories as to why the offensive production has dropped off so precipitously in the second halves. Many fans frequently talk about a lack of halftime adjustments by the coaches being a factor. That may be a factor but making major changes to strategy when the break is just 12 minutes is largely a thing of the past. Kyle Shanahan has said many times that adjustments take place constantly during the game, from the first series to the last.
Regardless of when they happen, it doesn’t appear that the adjustments are working. That could be due to poor strategy or it could be execution. Tight end Logan Paulsen said that the latter is an issue. “So the counter punches to their counter punches are things we have not been able to execute as well,” Paulsen told John Keim of ESPN after the Giants game.
It’s hard not to notice that passing yards a close in the first and second halves of the last four games (438 in first halves, 441 in second) but their rushing total declines by over 50 percent from the first half to the second. It appears that fan and media comments that the team is too quick to abandon the running game have some merit.
Since the name of the game is scoring points, let’s take a look there before we wrap up. In the last four games, the Redskins have scored a total of 44 first-half points. In the second halves of those games they have scored 22. The only touchdowns they have scored in the last 30 minutes came in the fourth quarter against the Eagles in a game where their opponent seemed to have lost some interest after building a 24-0 lead in the first three quarters of play.
As they say, it’s not how you start that counts, it’s how you finish. The Redskins seem to have this backwards and they will continue to struggle until they find a solution.
Note: I was asked about the run-pass ratio in the comments. I answered there but since I should have included them in the original post, here they are:
Second half–44 runs, 83 pass plays (69 att + 14 sacks)
First half–88 runs, 65 pass plays (62 att + 3 sacks)