The Redskins are 2-1 and in their two wins they put together some impressive first halves. Washington put up 21 points in the first half of the season opener in Arizona. They bettered that in Week 3 against the Packers, scoring 28. 

The Redskins’ offense earned those points. They didn’t get any short fields following opposition turnovers. Their shortest TD drive this season went for 73 yards. They have had two that went over 90 yards, including a 98-yard march against the Packers, the team’s longest touchdown drive since 1999. 

However, in the second halves of those games. The offense has come to a grinding halt. They scored a total of two field goals in those two wins. 

A win is a win, but quarterback Alex Smith realizes that they are playing with fire. 

"I don’t think you can ever expect to go out there and not score any touchdowns in the second half and win ballgames, against anybody, certainly against good offenses and good quarterbacks like Drew [Brees],” he said. “Need to be better moving forward, need to learn from it, and grow from it absolutely."

Smith couldn’t point to any one reason either on why the Redskins are struggling to move the ball in the second half.

"I mean probably a ton of things but in the end, it's coming down to execution,” he said. “There were a lot of times I think in both game you look at self-inflicted things, uncharacteristic things, got us off schedule, putting us in tough situational football, third and long, things like that and things that are hard to convert.”


Smith is on to something with the third-and-long situations. In the first halves of all three of their games, the Redskins have faced 19 third-down situations and their average distance to go was 4.7 yards. They had a solid 57.9 percent conversion rate. 

It’s been a different story after the come out of the locker room after the half. There have been 20 third downs and the average has been seven yards to go. The Redskins’ conversion rate plummeted to 25 percent. 

A closer look shows that in the first half the Redskins have had just one third down where they have more than 10 yards to go. In the second half, they have seen nine such situations. 

The third down issue likely is related to problems running the ball in the second half. On first-down runs in the first half, they average a healthy 5.8 yards per carry. In the second half that drops to 3.6 per carry. That is setting up third-and-long situations. 

Smith wasn’t there the last time the Redskins played in New Orleans. That loss wasn’t exactly a textbook case of problems scoring in the second half. The Redskins did put up 14 second-half points, expanding their 17-13 halftime lead to 31-16 with six minutes left to play. The issues with the collapse most centered on the defense but it still illustrates the notion that you can’t have too many points when you face a quarterback like Brees.