As they enter their bye week, the Redskins are a more efficient team than they were a year ago. They are not moving the ball quite as well on offense as they did in 2014 but they are scoring more than they did last year.
In 2014, the Redskins had some odd top line stats. They were 13th in the NFL in terms of years gained on offense, posting 358 yards per game. A team putting up yards at that rate should be about in the middle of the pack in scoring. But they ranked a dismal 26th in scoring, putting up 18.8 points per game.
You don’t need high-level advanced stats to figure out why the Redskins were spinning their wheels so much. They could move the ball pretty well but they would get stuck at key moments. The main drive killer was third-down conversions. They made first downs on 31.5 percent of their attempts, 30th in the league. They were frequently trying to convert those third downs from long distances since they took a sack 10.6 percent of the time that they dropped back to pass (30th). When they could keep drives going long enough to get near the end zone they weren’t very good at finishing them off with touchdowns; their red zone touchdown percentage was 47.9 (26th).
Through seven games this year, the Redskins rank 26th in yards per game with an average of 340. But they are averaging 21.1 points per game, an improvement of 2.3 points per game. That is not a massive improvement but it is significant. And it is a sign that they are operating more efficiently on offense.
The Redskins have converted 43 percent of their third downs, ninth in the NFL. Their sack percentage has plummeted to 2.9 percent, second best in the league. They have improved in the red zone, pushing it into the end zone on 61.9 percent of their visits (11th).
There also has been improvement on the defensive side of the ball. They allowed 27.4 points per game last year (29th) and 24.0 per game this year (17th). Add it up and a team that was outscored by an average of 8.6 points per game last year is only at minus-2.9 points per game. That’s not where they want to be but such a point differential is more middle of the pack (18th this year) rather than bottom of the barrel (29th last year).
NBC Sports Washington lost an important piece of its family this week when longtime Redskins reporter Rich Tandler died on Tuesday. He was 63.
Tandler joined NBC Sports Washington in 2011. He began his writing career in his 40s after working in restaurants and created his blog, Real Redskins, in 2004, which became the longest-running blog on the team. He also wrote three books on the Redskins and posted an estimated 2,300 consecutive “Need To Know” posts, becoming a must-read for Redskins fans as part of their morning routine.
“We’re devastated to learn of the loss of one of our most loved and valued media members, Rich Tandler of NBC Sports Washington,” Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder said in a statement. “His dedication to covering the Redskins over the past 14 years has made him an irreplaceable presence among our media corps, and he will be in our hearts. Our thoughts are with his family, our family at NBC Sports Washington, and the entire Redskins community. He will be truly missed.”
The team will hold a moment of silence for Tandler before its game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday and will keep his regular seat on press row empty. On Wednesday, Redskins quarterback Alex Smith offered his “thoughts and prayers to his family.”
“Rich’s kind and warm nature made him a good friend and an especially close colleague to many of us at NBC Sports Washington,” NBC Sports Washington General Manager Damon Phillips said in a statement. “His passion for his work and the Redskins was inspiring and made him a critical part of many of our successes over the past seven years. This is a very big loss for the sports community. Our thoughts are with his family and his many friends.”
Fans, Redskins players, fellow reporters, and friends of Tandler paid tribute to him on social media.
“Incredibly saddened by the sudden passing of NBCSW’s Rich Tandler. He was a great talent and an important voice in the DC sports community. Our thoughts are with his wife @MissSkeetersmom, his family and his family at @NBCSWashington,” Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis wrote on Twitter.
In a thriller in Foxboro, the Patriots handed Kansas City its first loss of the season.
It wasn't pretty but the Rams slipped past the Broncos to remain the lone unbeaten in the NFL.
Remember when the Lions beat New England on Sunday Night Football and folks were ready to bury the Patriots? Yeah... how did that 'hot take' work out?
Will the real Redskins please stand up? A win over the Panthers moved the Skins up three spots. Give the Redskins this, they are consistently unpredictable.
The Ravens are on the rise and Marcus Mariota is happy the Titans won't have to play Baltimore again.
So the Cowboys have an offense now? Or does Jacksonville not have an elite defense anymore?
And the Bears let Brock Osweiler throw for 380 yards. Yes. You read that correct. 380 yards.
How far will the Bears drop because of that dreadful defensive performance?