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Redskins' second-half offense has been second rate

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Redskins' second-half offense has been second rate

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)

 

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One stat that should make DeSean Jackson very dangerous against Eagles

One stat that should make DeSean Jackson very dangerous against Eagles

The Eagles defense is on a big-play streak, but not one that defensive coordinators will like very much, and it could be very good news for the Redskins and DeSean Jackson. 

At this stage of his career, Jackson is a well-known deep threat. While much of the 2016 season has been disappointing for Jackson, in back-to-back weeks, the vertical passing attack has worked. In Arizona last Sunday, Jackson only caught one pass, but it went for 59 yards. On Thanksgiving in Dallas, Jackson hauled in a 67-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins as part of his season-high 118 receiving yards.

"What he brings to this football team, he brings something that not a lot of people can bring, and that’s obviously the speed and the big play ability," 'Skins head coach Jay Gruden said of Jackson.

The last two games moved Jackson's yards-per-catch average back in normal range with the rest of his career at 16.5. Halfway through this season, Jackson was averaging below 14 YPC, which would have been by far the worst of his career.

"A lot of people think that we haven’t utilized his speed quite like we should, but I think he has had a major impact on this football team," Gruden said. "His deep threat has an impact on the defense. It opens up areas for Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder and the backs sometimes. He’s been a major influence for this football team in a good way."

Beyond just the big plays, the Eagles defense has given up 645 passing yards in their last two games. Cousins has historically played well in Philadelphia, and should be in good position to do the same this weekend.

And based on the Eagles' past six games, expect Jackson to have another big game at Lincoln Financial Field. 

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