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Need to Know: Redskins' 2012 pass defense better than we thought?

Need to Know: Redskins' 2012 pass defense better than we thought?

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 20, five days before the Redskins start training camp.

Pass defense not as bad as advertised?

The Redskins had pass defense issues last year; anyone who even casually watched the games would be able to tell you that. Only two teams allowed more yards through the air than they did and moments like Victor Cruz zooming past the secondary to catch the game-winning touchdown bomb from Eli Manning in the late going are seared into the brains of many observers.

But yards allowed is at best a crude measure of effectiveness and isolated plays do not tell the whole story. If you look at some other measures of pass defense the Redskins do not come off so poorly.

The first thing to note is that no team had more passes attempted against them than the Redskins did. Opponents threw at them 636 times so it makes sense that they would give up a lot of yards through the air.

The Redskins were 21st in the league in opponents’ yards per passing attempt at 7.4. For perspective, the Saints and Giants were the worst here at 8.1 yards per attempt, the Steelers were the best at 6.0 and the average was 7.1. The Redskins aren’t where they want to be here but they’re not in laughingstock territory either.

Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders wrote “If you have to grab one statistic to evaluate a pass defense, [passer] rating allowed is a pretty good one.” Passer rating takes interceptions and touchdown passes into account as well as attempts and completions. The Redskins’ opponents’ passer rating was 87.0, 18th in the league. The worst rating was the Chiefs at 99.9, the best belonged to the Cardinals at 71.2 and the NFL average was 83.8. Again, the Redskins are more mediocre than awful here.

There seems to be a solid correlation between ranking well in opponents’ passer rating and winning games. Of the top 12 teams in that category, nine—the Bears, Seahawks, Packers, Falcons, 49ers, Broncos, Texans, Ravens, and Bengals—won 10 games or more. Only the Cardinals, who had major issues with their own quarterbacks, finished with a losing record.

Working without a first-round draft pick and with a salary cap that was $18 million light, the Redskins did about as well as they could in addressing the secondary. They signed free agent cornerback E. J. Biggers and drafted three defensive backs. The moves may not bring major, instant improvement to the Redskins’ pass defense. But maybe they don’t have as far to go to be an effective pass defense than many of us think.

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Talking about the knee of III

In case you missed it

Days until: Training camp starts 5; Preseason opener vs. Titans 19; Eagles @ Redskins 51

Tandler on Twitter
Note that RG3 not obligated to participate fully in camp if he's not on PUP. Can do virtually nothing if he is on PUP. #Redskins #RGIII

— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) July 19, 2013

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was Pro Bowl type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know we’re 7-9. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!