Redskins

Quick Links

Redskins' opponents had the green light to score in the red zone in 2016

Redskins' opponents had the green light to score in the red zone in 2016

Last week, I took a broad look at the three areas that Jay Gruden said that his team was “terrible” in during the 2016 season, issues that cost the team a chance at the playoffs.

We looked at one of those, red zone offense, earlier.

Today, it’s time to examine the problems the defense in the red zone.  

If the Redskins’ defense was going to survive the 2016 season they had to be a “bend but don’t break” unit.

They were not built to stop teams cold. It would be OK to give up some ground as long as they could force an error, get a takeaway or, at worst, make them settle for field goals more often than not.

That didn’t work out so well for the Redskins.

They were just OK in the turnover department, getting 21 takeaways to ranks 17th in the NFL in that department. Even then they were inconsistent. There were seven games where the defense forced no turnovers and a 10-game stretch where they produced only seven.

RELATED: WHO ARE THE REDSKINS' MOST IMPORTANT FREE AGENTS?

However, it was in the red zone and in goal to go situations where the defense truly had issues. They allowed opponents to score touchdowns on 59.3 percent of their red zone trips, 26th in the league. When they let the other team get a first and goal, they got touchdowns 80 percent of the time.

Goal to go situations are a subset of the red zone so let me just point out one note on that before moving to the bigger group. The Redskins went the entire months of October and November plus a game in December without keeping an opponent from getting a touchdown in goal to go. That was 14 straight times that a first and goal was just as good as a TD.

The breakdown on the red zone numbers looks like this.

Opponents had 54 drives that had at least one play inside the Redskins 20 yard-line. They scored touchdowns on 32 of them.

How do those numbers stack up compared to the rest of the league? The team that led the NFL in red zone defense was the Giants. They faced 43 red zone drives and allowed 17 touchdowns, a 39.5 percent rate.

If the Redskins had the Giants’ red zone rate, opponents would have scored 21 touchdowns instead of the 32 that they actually did. Assuming the other team would have kicked field goals in those situations the Redskins would have allowed 44 fewer points. That difference would have moved them from 20th in the league in points allowed to 12th.

Of course, the points are meaningless without some context so let’s provide some here. The Redskins tied one game and lost three games by three or four points (including the last Giants game, which only became a nine-point loss on a last-play touchdown as the Redskins desperately tried to lateral the ball around).

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

—The tie was against the Bengals, who were 4-4 in the red zone. One stop inside the 20 likely would have meant a Redskins win.

—In the first Dallas game the Cowboys were 3-5 and the Redskins lost by four. Good red zone defense could have at least sent that game into overtime.

—The Lions were 2-3 in the red zone and the Redskins lost by three.

—The Giants were 1-3 in the season finale. That’s good enough red zone D on a percentage basis but there’s no rule saying that you can’t shut the other team out in the red zone for a game. The Redskins did that only once in 2016 (Eagles went 0-7 in Week 6).

You can play with those numbers however you’d like. But if one of the losses and the tie had been wins the Redskins could have been the No. 5 seed.

What went wrong in the red zone? Washington’s opponents’ passing stats in the red zone were only slightly worse than the league average in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and passer rating. The league allowed 2.5 yards per rush on plays inside the 20 while the Redskins allowed 2.8. That’s significant but not decisive. Although nothing was glaring it added up to a fatal flaw in the Redskins’ defense.

The new defensive coordinator will have to get this figured out. The other issue that cost Joe Barry his job was the team’s problem stopping the opposition on third down. We’ll put those problems under the microscope in the next part of this series. 

RELATED: TEN MOST DEFINING MOMENTS OF REDSKINS SEASON

Stay up to date on the Redskins!

Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

Quick Links

Colt McCoy is on crutches, but there isn't yet cause for alarm (VIDEO)

colt-mccoy-redskins1.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Colt McCoy is on crutches, but there isn't yet cause for alarm (VIDEO)

UPDATE: Redskins fans got alarmed Sunday when quarterback Colt McCoy showed up at an Indy car race on crutches.

What?

McCoy broke his leg in December on the Monday night stage against the Eagles, but was seen a few weeks later walking around the locker room without a limp.

Thus, the crutches seemed alarming.

Later Sunday, news emerged that McCoy had another surgical procedure on his leg, but is expected to be ready when the 'Skins offseason workouts begin.

***

Colt McCoy broke his leg in December, and a few weeks later was seen in the Redskins locker room moving around without crutches. 

In fact, shortly after his injury, Washington head coach Jay Gruden said that McCoy might have played had the Redskins made the playoffs. 

So it comes at a peculiar moment when McCoy was shown on Sunday moving around with the help of a pair of crutches. 

With Alex Smith expected to miss at least the 2019 season after suffering his own broken leg last fall, some expected McCoy to get a chance at the Redskins top QB spot this fall. 

Then, the team moved to get Case Keenum from Denver in February, which clouded McCoy’s chances. Washington’s top brass explained Keenum and McCoy would battle it out for the QB1 position. 

Now, however, naturally the question comes if the ‘Skins had to acquire Keenum because there was a setback with McCoy’s recovery or another injury popped up. 

Right now, there’s no answer. 

Soon there will be. 

Jay Gruden will talk with the media on Tuesday morning during the NFL League Meetings in Phoenix. While there are plenty of topics to discuss with the Redskins head coach, now McCoy will be high on the list. 

For fans worried by McCoy’s crutches, keep in mind many NFL players get procedures done in the offseason to clean up old injuries or scar tissue. 

It’s March and the Redskins won’t play a game until September. That’s plenty of time. 

Depending on the severity of McCoy’s situation, there could be questions about his availability for offseason workouts or training sessions. 

Another quarterback seems likely to join the Redskins this offseason regardless of McCoy’s availability. 

The team must add a passer on an affordable rookie deal, as neither Keenum or McCoy is under contract beyond this year. Alex Smith is, but it’s not even close to a given he can return by 2020, despite carrying more than $20 million in salary next year. 

Stay tuned. NBC Sports Washington will be on the ground in Phoenix and working to clarify the McCoy situation. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

2019 Redskins Draft Bracket: DK Metcalf and TJ Hockenson would inject the offense with needed talent

dk_and_tj.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

2019 Redskins Draft Bracket: DK Metcalf and TJ Hockenson would inject the offense with needed talent

NBC Sports Washington wants Redskins fans to help decide the team's ideal 2019 first-round pick by voting in the Redskins Draft Bracket on Twitter. Before you vote, though, take in this breakdown of the next matchup.

Looking for a stat to describe the rough season the Redskins receivers had in 2018? Well, there's tons to choose from.

The team's wideouts had the second-fewest catches of 20-plus yards in the league. Antonio Brown had more grabs, yards and touchdowns than Washington's top three targets combined. Josh Doctson led the squad in receiving yards — with a measly 532.

You could easily find plenty more, but those three are all you need to realize that DK Metcalf should absolutely be on the franchise's mind when it comes to their first-round pick this April.

While Metcalf's numbers at Ole Miss won't overly impress you, his athleticism and potential explosiveness as a pro absolutely does. That's why it's no surprise the WR met with the Redskins while at the Combine, as Jay Gruden and Co. are well aware that they must become more dangerous on the outside.

As with any prospect, there are questions with Metcalf. He only had 67 catches in 21 games in school, and while he shredded most of the drills in Indianapolis, his short area agility numbers were worse than Tom Brady. That's not great.

Regardless, he'd instantly become the offense's scariest athlete, and you have to like his chances of at least contributing splash plays early while he learns the nuances of the NFL.

The 'Skins don't just need improvement out wide, however. Jordan Reed was largely ineffective despite playing for much of 2018, Vernon Davis is 35 years old and Jeremy Sprinkle isn't much of a threat in the air at tight end.

Perhaps TJ Hockenson could be their answer. NFL.com says the Iowa product "is an ascending talent with a chance to become one of the best all-around tight ends in the game." 

One problem the Burgundy and Gold have encountered in recent years is Reed and Davis don't help much as blockers, while Sprinkle won't worry a defense with his hands. Taking Hockenson at pick No. 15 would mean Gruden could finally have a guy who excels in both areas.

It remains to be seen whether Metcalf or Hockenson will last until the Redskins' choice, as they could continue to rise up boards as the draft draws closer. If both or either is there, however, they need to be heavily considered. 

While the offense may have to be run-oriented again in 2019, it still needs more weapons for whoever is under center. They won't be able to grind out 13-play scoring drives every time they need a TD, and grabbing Metcalf or Hockenson would go a long way in introducing a new element to the group.

You've heard the case for both players. Now, retweet or like depending on whom you'd prefer to see move on in the bracket.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS: