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Need to Know: Redskins by the numbers—Fixing third-quarter woes

Need to Know: Redskins by the numbers—Fixing third-quarter woes

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 6, 22 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 178 days ago. It will be 68 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 9; Preseason opener @ Falcons 36; Final roster cut 59

The Redskins by the numbers

Minus-6—The Redskins’ turnover margin in the third quarter

During the season there was plenty of talk about the Redskins’ problems in the third quarter. When the season ended it turned out to be their worst quarter as far as scoring margin. They were outscored by 39 points in the third quarter and were up by a combined 48 points in the other three quarters and overtime.

There was plenty of talk about halftime adjustments (which are a myth since teams make adjustments all the time, quarter to quarter, series to series, play to play). But you don’t have to get into the coaches’ heads to see what the problem was.

Their turnover margin in the third quarter was minus-6. That is a sure fire way to create a deficit that quarter. In the rest of the game the margin was plus-11. The Redskins committed 10 giveaways in the third quarter and 12 during the rest of the game. I would point to that as the reason why they were outscored in the third quarter. Not that they shouldn't look at what they may or may not have adjusted during the five minutes or so they get in the locker room at halftime but the plans are meaningless if they don't hold on to the ball.

23—The number of years it has been since the Redskins made the playoffs in consecutive seasons

How relevant is this to 2016, as the Redskins have a chance to stop that skid? On the one hand, it’s in the past and it has no actual bearing on what is taking place today. But it’s also an indicator that the franchise, under the ownership of Jack Kent Cooke, John Kent Cooke, and Dan Snyder has been able to assemble an organization that is capable of piecing together a playoff run here and there but incapable of building anything that lasts more than a season.

Will the presence of Scot McCloughan for two offseasons be enough to change all of that? It could and we’re about to find out.

7.0—The Redskins’ average net gain per pass play

This takes into account yardage lost due to sacks. Only five other teams had a better number in this category. Of the top eight teams in this stat, six made the playoffs and all but the Redskins and Bengals were in the top 10 in total offense.

This will be an interesting stat to watch as the season goes on. If they improve, that likely means that the pass blocking, which was solid last year (sack percentage 4.5, 5th in the NFL), is maintaining and that the coaches are continuing to encourage Kirk Cousins to be more aggressive in the depth of his throws. Those factors will lead to good things for the overall effectiveness of the Washington offense.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 17, 25 days before NFL free agency starts.

The Redskin week that was

My weekly look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics on RealRedskins.com and NBCSportsWashington.com.

An offseason blueprint for the Redskins—Should the Redskins focus their free agency money on keeping their own? In addition to unrestricted free agents Zach Brown and Trent Murphy, they need to consider extensions for Brandon Scherff, Preston Smith, and Jamison Crowder. That could chew up a bunch of the approximately $31 million of cap space that they have. They may get some help on the market but most of their improvement should come from the draft and from within.

Redskins offseason will hit warp speed soon—With the exception of the Alex Smith trade, which actually hasn’t happened yet, there hasn’t been much going on with the Redskins. That is going to change soon, check out the post for the calendar and how the events matter for the Redskins.

No mixed messages from Alex Smith—In a radio interview, Alex Smith said that he was “jacked” to be a part of the Redskins. Now, the phrase often repeated here is that you shouldn’t listen to what they say, you should watch what they do. And the moment that he signs the reported four-year extension that he has negotiated with the team, a deal that likely would put him in Washington for the rest of his career, we will see his actions backing up his words. Then we will know.

What we know, and what we think, of the Su'a Cravens situation—This will be a true test of the acumen of the front office. It’s a very tricky situation. The Redskins have to decide if they want to keep Cravens. Should they decide to keep him, there will be a lot of smoothing over of ruffled feelings that would need to be done over and trust in Cravens would have to be restored. If they don’t want him around, they have to make it look like they are willing to go into the season with him in order to be able to trade him. Otherwise, teams may just wait for them to cut him and sign him as a free agent. Again, don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do.

Tweet of the week

Quarterback is not the only NFL position with rising salaries. The players teams hire to try to stop opposing QBs, cornerbacks, are getting expensive, too. Bashaud Breeland is a good cornerback, not a great one. His coverage skills are solid, he’s a good team player (if a bit of a hothead at times) and his work ethic is not questioned. For a fourth-round pick who everybody thought left Clemson a year too early, he has done well for himself But he hasn’t made a Pro Bowl and he hasn’t even come close enough to be considered a snub. Breeland has eight interceptions in four years in the league with a high of three in 2016.

The price tag for good at cornerback is likely to be in the vicinity of $10 million per season. And good for him if he gets it. But with the Redskins employing Josh Norman, who has cap hits in the range of $14.5 million-$16.9 million over the next three years, it would be difficult to fit him in. Truth be told, Breeland has probably been destined to leave as a free agent ever since Norman signed his contract in April of 2016.

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 12
—NFL Draft (4/26) 68
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 204

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Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

The Redskins might try to franchise tag quarterback Kirk Cousins to try to get some compensation for him as he leaves. But Cousins’ camp might not let that happen without a fight.

According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, Cousins might file a grievance if he is tagged, saying that the Redskins would be violating the spirit of the rules regarding the use of the franchise tag. He would be seeking to have the tag voided because the team clearly isn ’t interested in reaching a long-term deal with him given the acquisition of Alex Smith. The tag is supposed to be used to buy time to get an agreement done, not to squat on a player’s rights in order to trade him.

There is precedent for the tag being used in order to facilitate a trade. In 2009, the Patriots tagged quarterback Matt Cassel. They clearly had no intention of keeping him as they had Tom Brady on the roster. But New England pulled it off, shipping Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for a second-round pick.

But it is up to the player to object to being tagged and for whatever reason Cassel and his agent went along with the tag and trade rather than fighting for free agency.

It looks like Cousins ’camp won’t go as quietly.

It’s up to the Redskins to make the first move. The window to be able to tag a player opens on Tuesday with the deadline coming on March 6. We will see how things play out after that.

MORE REDSKINS: THE EXPECTATIONS GAME

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