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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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Need to Know: The early odds on what happens with Redskins and Cousins

Need to Know: The early odds on what happens with Redskins and Cousins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, January 19, 98 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 42
NFL free agency starts 50
First Sunday of 2017 season 235

The coordinator search and more

As noted above, we have 42 days until the deadline for the Redskins to put the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins. The immediate future of the franchise is contingent this situation being handled correctly by the organization. It’s time to turn the attention and the $100 in imaginary casino chips towards what might happen with Cousins as the process unfold. We will revisit this from time to time as the various deadlines approach so consider this the early odds.

Sign before the tag deadline, $5—This seems unlikely after his rather cold response to my question immediately following the season-ending loss to the Giants when he said, “The ball’s not in my court.” He indicated that it’s up to the Redskins to tag him. It doesn’t look like he and his agent will have much of an inclination to sit down to any serious negotiations before that happens.

Let him go into free agency, $5—Yes, I know that this is out there but it makes no sense to take the chance of the possibility that he could walk with zero compensation. While there might be some logic in finding out what Cousins would be worth in a true free market in order to establish the basis for a fair contract the risk of behind left empty-handed is just too great.

Tag and trade, $20—This also has been discussed by various media types as a possibility. It would involve giving Cousins the non-exclusive franchise tag, which would let him go out and negotiate a deal with another team. The Redskins could then match that offer or choose to get compensation. The CBA calls for compensation of two first-round picks although the two teams may negotiate something less. The most frequently suggested trade partner is the 49ers and their soon-to-be head coach Kyle Shanahan but there are probably around half a dozen teams, maybe more, who could be interested. If the Redskins don’t think they will ever sign Cousins long term this could be the way to go.

Tag and sign by July 15 deadline, $30—This may be a little low for this possibility. Perhaps if the other options are off the table he will consider that he is a perfect match for Jay Gruden’s offense and that he might not be such a good fit elsewhere. There also is the possibility of injury or, for whatever reason, Cousins having a subpar season. Those thoughts could spur him to instruct his agent to get the best deal he can get in Washington.

Tag and play the season on the tag, $40—Right now, this appears to be the mostly likely scenario. They can afford the $24 million cap hit and it would get them one more year of his services. However, the prospects for him remaining in a Redskins uniform for 2018 and beyond would be very cloudy.

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In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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3 of 4 Redskins named to Pro Bowl won't attend

3 of 4 Redskins named to Pro Bowl won't attend

Ryan Kerrigan, Jordan Reed and Brandon Scherff will skip next week's Pro Bowl in Orlando a team spokesman confirmed to CSN. All three players dealt with injuries late in the season, most notably Reed, and playing in the exhibition game is not in the cards. Trent Williams, however, is still slated to play in the game. 

Reed suffered a separated shoulder on Thanksgiving playing against the Dallas Cowboys. For the rest of the season, Reed played through significant pain and his production dipped.

Kerrigan played much of the season with an injured elbow and hurt his finger in the final game against the Giants. Scherff played with ankle pain and was listed on the injury report much of the season's final four games.

For Reed and Scherff, this year marked their first Pro Bowl. The recognition was deserved for both players, and shows that the guard and tight end are gaining national spotlight for their play.

Kerrigan played in the Pro Bowl following the 2012 season. He finished this year with 11 sacks, 2.5 short os his career high 13.5 in 2014. 

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