Among the many woes the Redskins had on offense last year was scoring in the end zone. On drives that reached inside the opponents’ 20 yard line they scored a touchdown 47.9 percent of the time. That performance ranked 26th in the NFL.
Bill Callahan came in as both the offensive line coach and as someone who can give his perspective on the offense as a whole using the knowledge built over 35 years of coaching offenses, 16 of them in the NFL. He was asked what could be done to solve the Redskins’ red zone problems. Callahan didn’t have a specific answer but he did point out a major issue the Redskins had in that area of the field last year.
“It really comes down to your efficiency on third down,” said Callahan. “Those are tough downs and your ability to convert on third down in the red zone comes up rather big . . . That makes the difference on if you are going to convert sevens or kick threes.”
As you might guess, the Redskins were not very efficient on third down in the red zone in 2014. They had 34 such plays and gained an average of 1.5 yards per play, scoring just three touchdowns (8.8 percent). They were able to get a first down without scoring a touchdown 20.6 percent of the time.
How does that compare to the rest of the NFL? As a whole, the league had 1,055 third-down snaps in the red zone (33 per team). The average gain per play was 2.85 yards, the touchdown conversion rate was 23 percent, and the first down without a touchdown rate was 16.4 percent.
To sum that up, the average NFL team either scored a touchdown or got a fresh set of downs after 39.4 percent of its third-down red zone plays. The Redskins scored seven or got a first down 29.4 percent of the time.
As anyone who followed the team knows, the Redskins’ problems on third down were not isolated to the red zone. They were 30th in the NFL with a third-down conversion rate of 31.5 percent. If Callahan can help improve that stat all over the field the issues in the red zone might disappear as well.
One other note: The Redskins’ defense was even worse than the offense on third down in the red zone. Opponents ran 11 plays and scored six touchdowns and got five third downs. If you add that up you get 11 for 11, 100 percent. Without looking it up I can tell you that is at least tied for the worst in the league.
MORE REDSKINS: HOW LOW IS THE BAR SET FOR THE SKINS?