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Redskins key stats: Red zone woes on offense persist

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Redskins key stats: Red zone woes on offense persist

A look at some key Redskins stats as they return to work after their early bye week.

—One area that still needs a lot of work is the red zone offense. They still are struggling to score touchdowns there, getting into the end zone 36.4 percent of the time. That’s 30th in the NFL; they were 29th at 45.9 percent last year. It’s arguable that lost red zone opportunities were responsible for both of their losses as they were 0-2 including a red zone interception against the Eagles and 1-2 against the Chiefs with the missed opportunity costing them a chance to take a 14-0 lead. The Redskins’ quest to get to even average in the red zone, which would mean getting a TD on about 50 percent of their opportunities, continues.

MORE REDSKINS: THE REDSKINS WEEK THAT WAS

—The Redskins have made some improvement in their other 2016 bugaboo. They allowed opponents to convert 46.6 percent of their third downs into first downs. That was dead last in the league. This year the conversion rate is 42.0 percent, good for 21st in the NFL.

—Many fans complain that the Redskins are still giving up too many third and long conversions, but that really isn’t the case. Washington has given up first downs on 23.1 percent of third downs with eight yards or more to go. That’s slightly better than the league average of 23.5 percent. Sure, you’d like the Redskins to do better than average, but compared to last year, when they gave up conversions on 36.1 percent of third and eight or more to go, the issue is on the back burner for now.

—One of the reasons the Redskins struggled on third down last year is that they gave up a league-worst five yards per rushing play on first down. This year, that is down to 3.8 yards per carry. That’s 17th in the league. There is a subtle but significant difference between facing second and five as they did last year and second and more than six.

RELATED: THE REDSKINS' 2018 CAP IS IN GOOD SHAPE

—Back to the offense, they are not that much better at running the ball, but they are running the ball more often. They are seventh in the league with 130 rushing yards per game. Their average of 4.5 yards per carry is ninth in the league. Last year they averaged 106 yards per game (21st), but they had the same 4.5 yards per carry average.

—Turning to special teams, Jamison Crowder is having problems returning punts. After he averaged 12.1 yards per return last year, he is sitting at 4.9 this year. That’s 23rd in the league among qualifying returners. That is bad, the two turnovers on muffed punts are worse. He has cost the Redskins chunks of field position. I’m not sure if replacing him in the answer but for sure, he needs to do better.

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 @TandlerNBCS.

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Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

There was some confusion about the Redskins’ Week 16 game in Tennessee when the NFL schedule dropped. The schedule pushed out by the Redskins said that the game date and time are to be determined. Other versions that went out, including the one on NFL.com, says the game will be on Sunday, December 23 at 1 p.m.

So what’s the story? Well, if you’re thinking of making reservations to go to Nashville to watch the game you just might want to hold off for a while. Like, until early November. 

In an under the radar move, the NFL has established flex scheduling for its late-season Saturday games. Here are the details from the schedule press release from Redskins PR:

“Flexibility for Saturday games in Weeks 15 and 16 is also part of the 2018 schedule. In Week 15, there will be two games played on Saturday on NFL Network, with the game times of 4:30 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. to be determined. In Week 16, two of four possible matchups will be scheduled for Saturday. Start times and Saturday games for Week 15 and 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with the non-Saturday games to be played on Sunday.”

The way it sets up, if the Redskins and Titans are playing well in midseason there is a good chance the game will be played on Saturday, December 22 at either 4:30 or 8:20. If one or both teams are struggling, the league and networks could choose to flex two of the other four matchups to Saturday. 

This is taking flex scheduling to a different level. It’s one thing shifting a Sunday kickoff seven and a half hours from 1 p.m. to 8:30. It’s another to shift a whole day. The visiting teams can’t make travel arrangements, not knowing if they need to come into town on Friday for a Saturday game or on Saturday for Sunday. Fans who want to travel to the game are in the same boat. 

Of course, if you can afford it, you can just add a day to your Nashville excursion. There are worse things in the world than spending an extra day or two in Music City. 

If you have to wait to make your plans, as the Redskins do, you will find out no later than October 29, which is when Week 8 ends. 

Do you believe in trends? Then you should hope that the game does get flexed to Saturday. The Redskins have won three straight Saturday games, beating the Eagles in both 2014 and 2015 (the latter game clinching the division title for Washington) and the Bears in 2016. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Need to Know: Five pivotal games on the Redskins' schedule

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Need to Know: Five pivotal games on the Redskins' schedule

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, April 20, six days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five pivotal games on the Redskins’ schedule

All NFL games are important but some seem to be a little more important than others. At first glance at the Redskins’ schedule, these seem to be the five most pivotal games. 

Week 1 @Cardinals—Wait, Week 1 is pivotal? It is if you’re Jay Gruden and you are 0-4 in season openers. Starting off in an 0-1 hole again after losing a winnable game would not get things off to a positive start. 

Week 7 Cowboys—The only Redskins-Cowboys game that Kirk Cousins started in the last three years that Washington won was the 2015 season finale in Dallas, a game that was meaningless to both teams. Alex Smith needs to take advantage of his shot at the Cowboys. Beating Dallas is important for being competitive in the division and for job security in general. This is their shot at them at home.

Week 9 Falcons—Atlanta has been among the league’s big boys the last couple of years. The Redskins get them at home, on grass, when the weather could be turning a little bit chilly. It’s a good opportunity to upset a dome team. The game also ends the first part of the season and the Redskins face a second half of the schedule that has just three home games. 

Week 14 Giants—This is one of the aforementioned scarce home games in the latter part of the season. It’s preceded by road games in Dallas (9-7 last year) and Philadelphia (Super Bowl champs) and followed by roadies in Jacksonville (lost AFC title game) and Tennessee (won a playoff game). Nobody is quite sure to what extent the Giants will rebound from their dismal 2017 season but this game has the feel of a possible oasis surrounded by hostile deserts. 

Week 16 @Titans—If the Redskins are in playoff contention, this game will determine a lot even though its non-conference. As noted, the Titans are looking to improve on their playoff season last year and they will not be a pushover by any stretch. But if the Redskins want to be able to say that they are a better team than they have been the last couple of years, this is the kind of game they should win. 

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

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 32
—Training camp starts (7/26) 97
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 142

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