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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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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrance Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Haha Clinton-Dox or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

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Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Coming into the offseason, there was plenty of talk coming from the Redskins organization that the team needed to upgrade the defense. Those who have been following the team for a while have heard this for many years now. However, usually the talk is just that, with more draft capital and free agency money going to the offense year in and year out.

But this year things are different.

The lion’s share of free agent spending went to the defense. They added linemen Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee, linebacker Zach Brown, and safety D.J. Swearinger. Now they have started off their draft with a laser focus in the defensive side of the ball.

RELATED: Redskins add cornerback with first round talent, but injuries pushed him to the third round

In the first round, they were delighted to take Jonathan Allen, the top-rated defensive lineman on their board. In the second round they went with outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, a teammate of Allen’s at Alabama. Then in the third round the pick was cornerback Fabian Moreau out of UCLA.

It’s been 20 years since the Redskins have gone so heavy with defensive picks at the top of the draft. Not since 1997 have they taken defensive players in the first three rounds of the draft. That year they took DE Kenard Lang, LB Greg Jones, and LB Derek Smith in rounds one, two, and three, respectively.

We will see how much impact the three draft picks have on the defense and, as Redskins fans have learned over the years, an influx of free agents on defense doesn’t guarantee improvement on that side of the ball.

But at least the Redskins organization is putting its money, and its draft picks, where its mouth is and that has be considered a positive development.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins make it two Alabama defenders in the 2017 draft class so far

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.