Things are looking up for the 2017 Redskins in many ways. They are in the top half of the league in many key statistical categories. But there is one key area where they excelled last year that needs some work in 2017.
Kirk Cousins has been sacked seven times in Washington’s three games. That’s not a huge number but if you look at it in context there is some reason for concern.
Last year through three games, Cousins had been sacked four times. The difference between last year and this season is worse when you look at the number of pass attempts. Last year through the first three games Cousins had 125 pass attempts. Doing the math, he had been sacked on 3.2 percent of his pass plays.
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This year, Cousins has thrown 97 passes, making the sack rate 6.7 percent. That’s 16th in the NFL. They were the fourth best in the league in 2016
If you project the numbers out over a full year, you can see that this could become an issue for the Redskins. Last year, Cousins attempted 607 passes and he was sacked 23 times. If you project the 2017 numbers out over 16 games, Cousins would throw 517 passes and get sacked 37 times.
That is not a recipe for success in this offense. Although they occasionally have been successful in getting some first downs from behind the chains, working from second and 18 after a sack a few times a game will lead to more punts than sustained drives. And while Cousins has never missed a snap due to injury, the more he gets hit the higher the risk of that streak ending.
Yes, we have a relatively small sample size here. This is more in the category of something to keep an eye on than it is a cause for high concern.
Still, preventing sacks is an area where the Redskins have been among the best in the league the last two years (they were fifth with a sack rate of 4.6 percent in 2015) and it’s no coincidence that they have enjoyed some success in those two seasons.