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Redskins pass defense continues to get lit up on third down

Redskins pass defense continues to get lit up on third down

The Redskins have five games to improve some lagging aspects of their game to avoid either another one and done appearance in the playoffs or not making the postseason at all.

One area where they have had issues all year long is in third down defense, particularly against the pass. And while anyone watching the games knows that they have had problems, pulling out the numbers gives a shocking look at the extent of the difficulties.

On third down, opposing quarterbacks have completed 71 of 105 passes (67.6 percent) for 933 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions. Plugging those numbers into the passer rating formula of 114.5. If you assigned that rating to one quarterback for the season he would be second only to Tom Brady in the NFL.

It’s not surprising to see that quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers (151.8 third-down rating) and Ben Roethlisberger (137.5) did well on third down against the Redskins. But rookie Cody Kessler was 11 for 11 on third down with a 128.5 passer rating. Sam Bradford had a respectable 95.8.

That looks bad but it’s worse than it looks on the face of it. For the NFL as a whole, the passer rating on third down is 88.6. That’s a touch under the league rating on all passes, which is 89.5. And that makes sense. Teams expect the pass on third down so they should be able to defend it better, or at least as well as they do on other downs. But that’s not the case with the Redskins.

What makes this puzzling is that the Redskins are pretty good defending the pass on downs other than third. Quarterbacks have completed 66.4 percent of their passes against them with a passer rating of 85.9.

The bottom line is that opponents convert on third down 43 percent of the time when they pass, 28th in the NFL. The better teams in this category have conversion percentages in the lower 30’s; the league average is 38 percent. If the Redskins can get their conversion rate to the mid-30’s and give their potent offense another possession or two per game they will be in better position to record another win or two.

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One crazy stat that connects Dwayne Haskins with Cam Newton, but also Mark Sanchez

One crazy stat that connects Dwayne Haskins with Cam Newton, but also Mark Sanchez

The Redskins selected Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. While his record at Ohio State was impressive, Haskins didn't log many starts. 

Washington head coach Jay Gruden talked about Haskins back in March during the league meetings, before the Burgundy and Gold drafted the quarterback, and said that because he played just one year in college he would need significant time to learn the NFL game. 

"You would like a guy to play more than a year to see how he’s developed over the years. Haskins has a unique skillset. He’s big, strong and can really throw it," Gruden said. Then, "Is he going to be ready for the first year?"

After OTAs and minicamp, it's obvious Haskins has all the talent needed to play quarterback in the NFL. He's made touch throws and he's rifled balls into tight windows. At the same time, he seemed confused in spots about play calls and struggled with the speed of the pass rush. 

All of that is normal for a player with just 14 starts. But it's that number, the one year of starting experience in college, that makes one statistic stand out about Haskins. 

That's some serious company, both good, bad and ugly. 

As a rookie in 2011, Cam Newton went 6-10 with 35 total TDs and 17 interceptions, not to mention a Rookie of the Year trophy. His running prowess made up for average numbers in the pass game. The more important comparison for Redskins fans is that Newton eventually developed into an NFL MVP and got the Panthers to the Super Bowl. 

For Mark Sanchez, the rookie numbers and the career comparison aren't as kind. Sanchez threw 12 TDs and 20 INTs in 15 games as a rookie, though he was at the helm as the Jets got to two straight AFC title games. Still, for his career, Sanchez threw more INTs than TDs and could not keep a starting job after his rookie contract. 

Trubisky is a different deal. He's only started 26 games since being the second overall pick in the 2017 draft with a record of 15-11. He's thrown 31 touchdowns against 19 interceptions, and run for another five scores. It's hard to describe Trubisky's game. At times he's terribly inaccurate, but in other spots, he looks like a future Pro Bowler. 

Newton is the sure thing, Sanchez is the poor outcome. Trubisky is still to be determined. 

For Haskins, it's not good company or bad company. With only 14 starts at Ohio State before the Redskins drafted Haskins, it's just the company he's in.


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Packers' Davante Adams has high praise for rookie Darnell Savage

Packers' Davante Adams has high praise for rookie Darnell Savage

Darnell Savage was the third NFL draft prospect profiled in our series ‘I Am the Prospect

Darnell Savage has been getting a lot of buzz since the Packers traded up to the 21st overall pick to select him in the 2019 NFL Draft, and his teammates are on board.

The Maryland star was one of the draft's biggest risers, and it was well warranted.

The Packers' Instagram account posted a video of Savage Wednesday, and his teammate Davante Adams chimed in.

“The boy gonna be special,” Adams wrote.

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BORN READY. #MondayMotivation #GoPackGo

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“He’s going to be that guy — I can tell," Adams said, via Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal. "We definitely got a steal." “I know we got him early, but I still think that he could have gone even earlier just based on what he’s doing out there. He plays like a vet, he knows how to practice, and he’s smart, man.

Savage will face the Redskins in Week 14 when the Burgundy and Gold head up to Lambeau Field on December 8 for the matchup against the Packers.