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Redskins stat breakdown: Red zone struggles mounted in 2nd half of 2016 for Cousins

Redskins stat breakdown: Red zone struggles mounted in 2nd half of 2016 for Cousins

CSN has teamed up with The Edge Systems to provide the occasional statistical review of Redskins game film. The Edge is analytical football software currently being used by coaches in the NFL, SEC, ACC and the media, providing some of the fastest and best data in football.

Throughout the 2016 season, the Redskins struggled to score inside the Red Zone. At times it seemed fluky, but week after week, similar problems occured. The offense simply couldn't consistently get the ball into the end zone from inside the 20-yard-line. 

It's overly simplistic to blame one player for the 'Skins red zone woes, but it can be helpful to look at Kirk Cousins body of work in that area of the field across the arc of the entire 2016 season. It's particularly relevant as the organization is again on the precipice of placing the franchise tag on Cousins, working towards a long-term deal, or perhaps even some other option.

Working with The Edge Systems, every single one of Cousins passes thrown inside the opponent's 20-yard-line was analyzed and judged to be a success or not. Success was considered when:

  • Any play resulting in a first down or a Touchdown
  • 1st Down: gains 40 percent of yards needed for a new first down

  • 2nd Down: gains 50 percent of the remaining yards for a new first down

  • 3rd and 4th Down: results in a new first down

Below are Cousins' red zone pass attempts charted out for the entire season. (Click here for an enlarged chart)

The results run a similar pattern to the Redskins season. As Washington slumped over their final six games, going 2-4 and falling short out of the playoffs, the team struggled to score in the red zone and Cousins was particularly poor. Cousins found success on 36 percent of his red zone throws in the season's first eight games. That number dropped more than 10 points over the season's final eight games.

In the final two home games of the season, disappointing losses to the Panthers and Giants, Cousins found success on just one of eight red zone passes. Week 17, in a game the 'Skins needed to win to make the playoffs, Cousins went 0 for 3 on red zone passes. 

Again, these numbers can't be all put on Cousins. Poor run game and protection problems emerged over the second half of the year, especially against the Panthers and Giants. The numbers do provide another good measure of the quarterback that will likely determine the future of the Redskins franchise. 

This data dive wasn't intended to compare Cousins in the red zone with other quarterbacks. That data is more readily available (here from Pro Football Reference). Overall, Cousins completed 67 percent of his passes in 2017. Inside the 20, that number drops to about 46 percent. For a quick comparison, Tom Brady and Drew Brees completed more than 65 percent of their red zone passes, Matt Ryan completed 61 percent of his red zone passes, Eli Manning came in at 53 percent and Ben Roethlisberger at 47 percent. 

[Ed. Note: Georgetown assistant offensive coach Tyler Stevens coach compiled 2016 red zone data for this report]

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Need to Know: Redskins starters quick hitters, defense—Year 3 huge for Preston Smith

Need to Know: Redskins starters quick hitters, defense—Year 3 huge for Preston Smith

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 27, 31 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 21
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 46
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 58
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 110
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 158

Redskins starters quick hitters—defense

DE Stacy McGee—He had his best season last year despite missing seven games with a lingering ankle injury. McGee had just half a sack and no forced fumbled in his first three seasons. Last year he got 2.5 sacks and two FF’s. Improving with experience or turning it on for a contract year? We’ll see.

DE Terrell McClain—The Redskins will be his fifth NFL team in seven seasons, an unusual career path for a one-time third-round pick. Like McGee, in 2016 he exceeded his previous career totals in sacks and forced fumbles.

NT Phil Taylor—Yes, he’s the starter if the season began today. Taylor got off to a nice start after the Browns make him a first-round pick in 2011, starting 16 games and registering four sacks as a rookie. But injuries have taken their toll and he hasn’t played a snap since 2014. He is far from certain to play in 2017, either, if the Redskins can get a good nose tackle candidate in the draft.

ILB Will Compton—Compton is a defensive captain and while he doesn’t make a ton of big plays, his interception in London likely prevented a loss to the Bengals. Still, the Redskins gave him the minimum restricted free agent tender, a sign that they think they could recover if another team signed him away.

ILB Mason Foster—Should the Redskins draft an ILB who can start early, Foster likely will go back into the nickel linebacker role he assumed when Su’a Cravens was out injured.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan—Although his income has jumped up to eight-figure territory he still drives the same Chevy SUV he’s had for several years. That sort of attitude will serve him well as his career goes on.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

OLB Preston Smith—The third year is huge for Smith, who has had flashes of dominance followed by weeks of near invisibility. If we see the Smith who showed up against the Vikings more often he could be in line for a big contract extension. But if he’s a no-show too often, edge rusher will appear at the top of the Redskins’ needs list in 2018.

CB Josh Norman—Hopefully, Greg Manusky will have Norman on the other team’s No. 1 receiver from the first snap of Week 1 on. The Redskins were 0-2 before Joe Barry started having Norman shadow and that had them behind the eight ball all year.

CB Bashaud Breeland—He always has a “it’s me vs. the world and all the haters” type of mentality, which is good for a cornerback. It will be interesting to see how he performs in a contract year.

SS Su’a Cravens—Some are skeptical that he has the coverage skills to be a quality strong safety. We won’t really know until he does it.

FS D.J. Swearinger—There also is skepticism regarding the free agent signee. Can he play free safety after playing strong for most of his career? He did it some in Arizona last year but we’ll have to see if his aggressive style will work while being the last line of defense week in and week out.

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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Don't believe trade hype: Bruce Allen insists Kirk Cousins will be Redskins quarterback in 2017

Don't believe trade hype: Bruce Allen insists Kirk Cousins will be Redskins quarterback in 2017

Kirk Cousins will be the Redskins quarterback in 2017. Period. At least that's the word from team president Bruce Allen.

"That's why we franchised him," Allen said of Cousins.

Asked about numerous trade rumors and reports on the Redskins single season passing record holder, Allen dismissed them all.

"I can't keep up with the rumors," Allen said. "Kirk and I have talked almost a dozen times this offseason, and we get to laugh when we hear these different rumors. We haven't talked to anyone."

MORE REDSKINS: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 6.0

Allen has spoken with Cousins representatives a number of times this offseason, and the organization still wants to get a long-term deal done with their passer. 

"Our goal from the beginning has been long-term," the team president said. "I'm still hopeful and confident we'll do it."

The team could again use a tag on Cousins, an option Allen mentioned. 

MORE REDSKINS: Exclusive: Allen answers questions on McCloughan firing