Redskins

Redskins

A year ago new Redskins offensive line coach Bill Callahan talked about the team’s need to improve on third down in the red zone.

“It really comes down to your efficiency on third down,” said Callahan. “Those are tough downs and your ability to convert on third down in the red zone comes up rather big . . . That makes the difference on if you are going to convert sevens or kick threes.”

Callahan was on to something. The 2014 Redskins were pathetic on third down in the red zone. They had 34 such plays and gained an average of 1.5 yards per play, and scored just three touchdowns (8.8 percent).

Compare that to the league average of 2.85 yards per third down red zone play with a touchdown conversion rate of 23 percent.

Let’s take a look at 2015 and see what Callahan, Jay Gruden, Sean McVay, and the rest of the offense did on third down in the red zone last year.

They ran 33 plays and gained an average of 3.8 yards, an improvement of 150 percent over 2014. They quadrupled their touchdowns scored to 12 (36%), tying for the most in the NFL.

Quarterback play in the red zone improved tremendously. On third down in 2014, three quarterbacks combined for a 47.6 percent completion percentage and a passer rating of 50.3. Last year Kirk Cousins completed 75 percent of his passes with a passer rating of 124.3.

The only issue with the Redskins excellent performance in this situation is that it will be difficult to improve to any great degree. As noted, no team scored more touchdowns on third down in the red zone and they were seventh in yards per play and fifth in first down percentage (touchdowns count as first downs). In addition, Washington was one of six teams that did not have a third down red zone turnover. There isn’t much room to grow.