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Callahan discusses primary cause of Redskins' red zone woes


Callahan discusses primary cause of Redskins' red zone woes

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. 


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Redskins bring in another defensive lineman for free agency visit, per source


Redskins bring in another defensive lineman for free agency visit, per source

The Redskins hosted Sylvester Williams for a free agency visit on Tuesday morning, per a source with knowledge of the situation. 

Williams played in 2017 with the Titans, logging 20 tackles in 11 starts. Tennessee released Williams this offseason, just one year into a three-year, $16 million deal. 

Drafted in the first round by the Broncos in 2013, the 6-foot-3, 313 lbs. Williams' stat line has never really popped. That isn't uncommon for a nose tackle though, as the job is less about tackles than it is holding leverage against the interior of an offensive line. 


Should the Redskins sign 29-year-old Williams, it would represent the first true nose tackle free agency addition since Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton joined the team in 2015 from Denver. In an ironic twist, Williams took over at nose in Denver when Knighton left for Washington, and posted his best season as a Bronco. 

Washington restructured its deal with Terrell McClain, reported first by ESPN, which could allow more flexibility to add another defensive lineman. That could come in the draft, but the club has been very active talking with free agents to play on the defensive front. 

On Monday, Johnathan Hankins and Pernell McPhee visited with Redskins officials in Ashburn. Hankins would carry the heaviest price tag, but his past performance would also indicate the most promise. 

McPhee is an edge rusher with enough bulk to play against the run as well. Williams compares more with Hankins, and could be seen as the secondary option.

Among 79 nose tackles Pro Football Focus graded, Williams ranked 36th. For comparison, Bengals star Geno Atkins ranked No. 1, Dontari Poe ranked 26th, former Redskin Chris Baker ranked 65th and current Redskin Ziggy Hood ranked 79th. 

It's also worth noting that since the Titans released Williams, should the Redskins sign the nose tackle, his contract would not count towards the NFL compensatory pick formula. 

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Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility

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Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility

One head-scratcher from over the weekend was the Redskins’ apparent decision to hold on to defensive end Terrell McClain despite the fact that his 2018 base salary of $3.25 million would become fully guaranteed as of 4 p.m. on Sunday.

McClain missed four games with a toe injury last year and when he was playing he was not one of the top performers on the line. Perhaps he will improve in his second year in the defense but his performance certainly didn’t warrant a fully guaranteed salary.

Sunday came and went, and McClain was still on the roster. However, there was a change regarding the eight-year veteran. According to John Keim of ESPN, the Redskins and the player agreed to remove the full guarantee of the 2018 salary and change it to an injury-only guarantee.


The change will help alleviate what could be a numbers crunch down the road. The Redskins normally carry six defensive linemen. They have four keepers in Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Stacy McGee, and Anthony Lanier. They have been trying to sign a free agent D-lineman like Johnathan Hankins and if they fail to do that they are likely to take one early in the draft. That would mean that five of the roster spots are spoken for.

If McClain had the guaranteed salary that might lock him into that sixth spot, leaving Ziggy Hood, a favorite of the coaching staff, on the outside looking in. The removal of the full salary guarantee levels the playing field between McClain, Hood and another possible free agent or draft pick when it comes to competing for that last roster spot.

If McClain loses out in the battle for a roster spot in training camp releasing him would save about $3.4 million in 2018 cap space. However, there would be a dead cap charge of $2.5 million in 2019. If his salary had remained fully guaranteed his departure would have caused a net cap charge of about $2 million.


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