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Need to Know: Can Cousins reduce the number of sacks the Redskins take?

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Need to Know: Can Cousins reduce the number of sacks the Redskins take?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, September 10, three days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Miami Dolphins.

Can Cousins help the Redskins cut down on sacks?

The Redskins quarterbacks had problems staying upright last year.

Opponents racked up 58 sacks against the Redskins last year. Only the Jaguars, with 72, allowed more.

Yes, the Redskins threw a lot but when you control for that and look at their sack percentage you come up with 9.6, still the second-worst performance in the league next to the Jaguars.

Yes, the offensive line had its weak links, perhaps more weak ones than strong ones. But a closer look at the numbers indicates that the quarterbacks likely had something to do with it.

Robert Griffin III, who started seven games, was sacked 13.3 percent of the times he dropped back to pass (33 sacks/247 drop backs). Colt McCoy was sacked 11.7 percent of his dropbacks (17/145) and Kirk Cousins on 3.8 percent (8/212).

As they sang on Sesame Street, one of these things is not like the others. Playing behind the same line as the other two quarterbacks Cousins got sacked a third as often as McCoy and three and a half times less often than Griffin.

Cousins’ sack rate wasn’t just the best on the team; it would have been one of the best in the league if he had thrown enough passes to qualify. If he had enough attempts he would have ranked fifth in the league, just behind Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

But they utilize the minimum attempts for a reason, to prevent making definitive judgments based on a small sample size. Cousins’ numbers were compiled over basically five games, about a third of the season. With that precaution about jumping to broad conclusions based on limited data, let’s look at how Cousins could help the Redskins’ offense.

As noted, the Redskins suffered 58 sacks last year. Had Cousins taken every drop back and maintained the sack rate he had last year the Redskins would have taken 20 sacks. They lost a total of 414 yards to sacks (7.1 per sack). With the lower sack rate they would have saved a total of 272 yards of field position.

But those 272 yards would not have been the only benefit of fewer sacks. You have to assume that the quarterbacks would have completed some passes when not getting sacked. So if they had 38 additional pass attempts and gained Cousins’ 2014 average of 8.4 yards per attempt they would have had an additional 319 yards passing. Add those to the 272 they would not have lost and you have an additional 591 net passing yards. That would move them from 11th in the league in passing yards to fifth.

There are a lot of numbers there and they’re both hypothetical and based on a small sample size. Still, it shows you how much taking fewer sacks can help the offense. There is no guarantee that they will do this if Cousins starts 16 games but it is certainly something to look for.

Timeline

—Former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann was born on this date in 1949.

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:40; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice (approx. 1:30)

—It’s been 256 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 3 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Rams @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 14; Eagles @ Redskins 24

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The Cardinals could be the cure to the Redskins' pass rushing issues

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USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals could be the cure to the Redskins' pass rushing issues

The Redskins have not had a very good year when it comes to sacking the opposing quarterback. They have 31 sacks for the season, 17th in the NFL.

They had a then-NFL best 32-game streak with at least one sack came to an end in Week 10 against the Vikings.

Ryan Kerrigan is doing well with 9.0 sacks to his credit. Preston Smith has five but only a half since Week 6. Matt Ioannidis and Jonathan Allen were forming a solid interior pass rush tandem early in the year but Allen went on injured reserve with a Lisfranc injury and Ioannidis suffered a broken hand that limited his playing time and effectiveness.

MORE REDSKINS: IS GALETTE ON HIS WAY OUT?

But the cure to the Redskins’ pass-rushing ills just may be coming to town on Sunday in the form of the Arizona Cardinals and quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

The Cardinals have given up 44 sacks on the season; that’s 31st in the NFL.

Things have gotten worse in the last couple of weeks, with Gabbert going down a combined 15 times against the Rams and Titans.

If you think that the Cardinals may have hit rock bottom, consider that two starters, left tackle Jared Veldheer and right guard Earl Watford, won’t be playing due to injuries.

Will Holden, a rookie fifth-round pick, will start at left tackle and Evan Boehm, who lost his job to Watford earlier this season, will be the right guard.

Of course, the Redskins have to go out and make it happen. The entire Cowboys offense was slumping until they met the Redskins a couple of weeks ago. They can’t be a haven for a struggling unit once again.

In any case, it is an opportunity that is in front of the Redskins. It’s up to them to take advantage of it.

RELATED: REED LIKELY TO STAY IN 2018

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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Need to Know: State of the Redskins, Week 15—Looking for motivation

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Need to Know: State of the Redskins, Week 15—Looking for motivation

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, December 14, three days before the Washington Redskins play the Cardinals at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky news conferences and open locker room after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Broncos @ Redskins Christmas Eve (12/24) 10
—Redskins @ Giants (12/17) 17
—NFL Draft (4/26/18) 133

State of the Redskins

Top storylines

Jobs on the line? It’s been the conventional wisdom that the jobs of Jay Gruden and his staff are safe, barring a complete collapse at the end of the year. Well, after two ugly losses we are 40 percent of the way to a complete collapse. The Redskins don’t even have to look good down the stretch, they just need to win two of the final three and be competitive in the other. Gruden might be able to survive a couple more games like the Cowboys and Chargers debacles but if that happens I wouldn’t want to be him on January 1, the day after the season ends.

Shutdowns started—Jordan Reed going on injured reserve could be the first of a few moves to end the seasons of players who won’t be healthy in time to play in more than one or two games. It lets the player dive into rehab and it lets the team sign and get a look at a player who can stay on the roster through the offseason and compete for a roster spot in 2018. There could be more coming up until Week 17.

Playing out the string—Last week, when the Redskins were technically alive for the playoffs they apparently couldn’t muster enough motivation to prepare properly. It will be interesting to see how they react this week with their playoff odds reduced to zero.

Last three games

Sunday vs. Cardinals (6-7)—The Cardinals have fallen even further than the Redskins. Two years ago, they were on their way to a first-round bye and an appearance in the NFC title game. This season they are 6-7 after suffering from a raft of injuries, including losing their starting QB and All-Pro running back David Johnson. Can two teams with nothing to play for put on an entertaining show?

Christmas Eve vs. Broncos (4-9)—And in comes another team that has fallen even further and harder. The Broncos were lifting the Super Bowl Trophy two years ago. Now, the defense that spearheaded that run is still solid but without a reliable quarterback, they are having issues. At this point, your guess at if it will be Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, or Brock Osweiler starting at quarterback is as good as mine.

New Year’s Eve @ Giants (2-11)—Will this game be bye-bye to Eli? Changes are coming to New York and Manning, sometimes a Redskins nemesis and sometimes a player who gift-wrapped wins for Washington, could be on the way out. The Redskins could be playing to avoid the kind of upheaval that has already begun in the Big Apple.

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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