We’re counting down to the start of training camp here by looking at some numbers that will be keys to the Redskins’ 2014 season.
You don’t have to be a big-time Redskins analyst to figure out that if the Redskins are going to be successful in 2014, Robert Griffin III is going to need to have a big year. And if he is going to have a good year he is going to have to stay upright in the pocket.
The Redskins really weren’t as bad as many fans thought when it came to protecting Griffin and Kirk Cousins in 2013. They were more in the middle of the pack, giving up 43 sacks compared to the NFL average of 40.5. When you consider how often the Redskins pass, they ranked 13th in the NFL getting sacked on 6.6 percent of their pass plays.
Still, they need to be better at protecting the franchise. A target of 26 sacks allowed may be very ambitious—last year it would have had them tied for third in the NFL—but it’s reachable. Between an increased emphasis on protection and Griffin improving his recognition skills and ability to get rid of the ball when he needs to, trimming off a sack per game should be an achievable goal.
It should be noted that pass protection is not all about sacks. If they allow about 40 percent fewer sacks they should also cut back on the QB hits and hurries (186 total in 2013 per Pro Football Focus). That will help make for a much more effective passing game in 2014.