The Redskins were one of the oldest teams in the league in 2013. But how much does age really matter?
Football Outsiders calculated each team’s average age weighted by the number of snaps the players took. This is a much more revealing way to analyze the age of a team than taking the simple average of the 53 players on the roster. It doesn’t mean a whole lot if a team has a lot of young players on its roster who don’t see the field. This also controls for anomalies like 40-year-old punter Sav Rocca. He did bring the Redskins’ average age up last year but only proportionally to the six to ten snaps he played every game.
How did the Redskins rank? Their snap-weighted average age in 2013 was 27.4 years making them the fourth-oldest team in the NFL. Only the Cardinals (27.8), 49ers (27.5), and Bears (27.4) are older.
FO breaks it down by units and it’s easy to see where the team was aging. The offense averaged 27.0 yards old, right in the middle of the pack at 16th oldest. The defense, however, averaged 27.9, third oldest in the league. Special teams averaged 27.1, third oldest.
Some Redskins fans will find their team’s age to be disturbing. It is automatically assumed that younger is better than older. But a couple of things need to be pointed out here.
First, we’re not talking about a great deal of difference. The NFL snap-weighted average for all players in all games is 26.7. That means that the average Redskin taking a snap is about eight months older than the average NFL player taking a snap. We could debate how significant eight months is in terms of what a player can do on a football field but it’s not much.
We also could debate the correlation between youth and winning. Yes, only two teams were younger than the champion Seahawks. But they had to battle to beat the 49ers (2nd-oldest team) to get to the Super Bowl. Seattle beat Denver (9th) to win it all. The Panthers (5th) earned a bye, the Cardinals (1st) won 10 games and the Saints (8th) won a playoff game.
This doesn’t mean that the Redskins should be happy where they are. With three wins last year they were by far the worst of the 10 oldest teams in the league. But at this point they need to be concerned about getting better, not necessarily getting younger.
Later this week we will look at if the Redskins are likely to get older or younger in 2013 2014.