Thirty is one of those milestone numbers in life where people feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. For most, reaching 30 years in age signals an advanced maturity towards accountability and a mastering of destinies.
Sports, being extremely reflective of society, mirrors the notion of 30 as a noteworthy number. For example, once a baseball player attains membership in the “30-30 club” – hitting 30 home runs and stealing 30 bases – his status elevates among other major leaguers.
Conversely, depending on the circumstances, 30 sometimes has negative implications attached to it. For instance, once NFL running backs hit the age of 30, conventional wisdom speculates that his skills will erode, making him less effective.
This week, as far as the Washington Redskins are concerned, the number 30 represents a level of futility and ineffectiveness that’s led to two losses and zero wins this season. Let’s use P.A.W.S. (Predictive Analysis With Stats) to sift through the ebb and flow of 30 and how it affects this week’s contest between Chicago and Washington.
Washington hired Jay Gruden to be its head coach in 2014, and have since amassed a 35–46-1 record, with one playoff loss. Overall, Gruden has coached in 83 games but, unfortunately for the Redskins, they’ve lost 30.1 percent of those games after allowing teams to score 30 or more points. Yes, typically, any NFL team giving up 30 points in a game all but insures the likelihood of a frustrating loss.
For the past 3 seasons, the league average for losing games after giving up 30 points is 20.4 percent, and only five teams are at 30 percent or higher. Only one of those five teams made a playoff appearance within those three years, the 2016 Miami Dolphins. Since 2016, every team in the NFC East from Dallas (11.8 percent), to Philadelphia (3.8 percent), and the New York Giants (18.4 percent) are below the league average in games lost by allowing 30 points or more.
Washington’s defense is so bad it’s offensive. Speaking of offenses, last season in games where the Redskins lost giving up 30 or more points, their opponents averaged 436 yards per game. The NFL average for yards allowed per contest last year was at 352.2, and this season it’s increased by a few to 356.2 yards a game. The Redskins are even worse so far in this campaign, giving up 455 yards per game, essentially 100 yards more than the league average.
Another strong contributor to Washington’s ineffectiveness is their turnover to takeaway numbers. Since Gruden’s arrival in 2014, the Redskins have turned the ball over 52 times, while only taking it away 22 times for a minus-30 margin.
Going by the Redskins’ pathetic defensive output, this should be an easy win for the Bears, right?
Not so fast - as inept as Washington’s defense has been, Chicago’s offense has been equally futile. Mitchell Trubisky is ranked 28th in the league in passing yards, and has only completed 58.3 percent of his attempts with no touchdown passes. Chicago is scoring less than 10 points per game and most of those scores are from their kicker, Eddy Pineiro.
Washington, on the other hand, has its QB Case Keenum completing 69.1 percent of his passes with five touchdowns thrown to zero interceptions. Plus, the Redskins under Gruden have never allowed 30 points scored against for 3 consecutive weeks. Through the first two weeks, Washington has given up 32 and 31 points, respectively.
The Bears’ offensive scoring issues are not a recent phenomenon, because looking back over the last three games played, they only tallied 34 points combined. That's under 12 points a game. The Bears, and specifically Trubisky, need to take advantage of a porous Redskin defense and “get right” sooner than later. The Bears’ defense is among the top-3 in several categories, and should stymie Keenum and the Redskins offense enough to give Trubisky plenty of opportunities to score.
The Bears will win if…
- The offense can match or exceed the league average of 356.2 yards total offense per game. The Redskins are giving up 455 yards on average this season
- The defense continues suffocating offenses, not allowing more than 12 points per contest
- The defense can force any turnover to give a struggling offense a shorter field to traverse for an easy score
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