January 13, 2011

Crunching Numbers: Season Ending Stats (Offense)

It was tough to dig up many positive numbers for the Redskins offense. Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, and Ryan Torain are guys with some solid production, but overall the unit is a trainwreck. Donovan McNabb threw an interception in 10 straight games. Then when he snapped that streak and led what should have been a game-winning drive against Tampa but for a botched extra point, he was benched. Rex Grossman came in and turned the ball over eight times in three games. Not much improvement there.

The Redskins were 24th in the NFL in time of possession per game primarily because they were 30th in rushing offense and 31st in rushing attempts. The lack of emphasis on the run game equaled less time with the ball.

The funny thing was that the ‘Skins were tied for 15th in average yards per carry. Not the pinnacle of prowess, but solid enough to where there should have been a commitment to ground game. However, they failed to establish the run game all year, which was a mistake in light all the close contests and the fact they were picking up 4.2 YPC.

The Redskins played 12 games within a touchdown or less of their opponent. They ended up with a 3-4 record in the seven games where they ran the ball less than 25 times. In a pair of those matchups they attempted fewer than 20 carries and went 0-2 in those games. They were 3-2 in the five games where they called more than 25 runs. Sensing a pattern?

The margin for error in this league is slight and the Redskins were far too one-dimensional offensively to be a good team in 2010. 651 pass attempts (sacks included) to 351 rushing attempts. That's a run-pass ratio of approximately 65-35. That's about as lop-sided as it gets and Kyle Shanahan is to blame.

Individually, Ryan Torain, the bruising back from Arizona State, set a career high in rushing four separate times this season and rushed for 4.5 yards a carry. Eight starts and nearly 750 yards rushing for a back who battled injuries all season. Not to mention he was fantastic at breaking tackles and gaining yards after contact (couldn't find the stats on that).

The two concerns for next year? One is health. Torain is an upright runner who has already dealt with quite a few lower body injuries in his short career. The second is learning how to play according to his strengths. Torain is a one cut runner, but he attempted to do too much with a poor offensive line this season. He tried to stretch things east-west when the play broke down in front of him, but he lacked the lateral speed to get by defenders. The result was far too many negative runs. Only six backs were stopped behind the line of scrimmage more than Torain who had 30 carries stopped for a loss (and that was in just 10 games). A poor offensive line was partially to blame, but he made matters worse by persistently retracing his steps in the hole.

Santana Moss was tied for fifth in targets, and caught 64% of them. Brandon Marshall, considered one of the premiere possession WRs in the game had the same amount of targets but just 86 catches. For Moss to be in the same league as Marshall is a testament of his willingness to adapt to the life of a possession receiver and become less of a big play threat. He had a career high in catches and over 1,100 yards. The numbers are inflated due to the amount of passing done, but he still had a very productive season, which I said would be the case back in August. The Redskins must re-sign him.

Anthony Armstrong essentially finished third in average yards per catch with 19.8 YPR. Others finished above him but none of those players had over 20 receptions. Armstrong had 44 grabs, which was a solid amount as an undersized number two receiver in Washington. He and Brandon Banks joined forces to replace Antwaan Randle El at WR and punt returner and they ended up providing a significant upgrade.

51.9% of Chris Cooley’s 77 catches moved the chains. He caught 25 passes in the month of October. That was his best month in terms of receptions, but only 36 percent of those grabs were for first downs. His first down percentage was no less than 50 percent in any other month.

For all the talk of two tight end sets, the Redskins didn't seem to use them all that much. However, both Fred Davis and Cooley had good numbers. They combined for 1,165 yards and six touchdowns on 98 catches and it seemed the Shanahans gradually began to find ways to get both involved in the red zone later in the year.

Speaking of the red zone, the struggles there were quite horrific. Washington ranked 20th in red zone scoring percentage with a 51.16% success rate and they averaged 1.4 red zone scores per game good for 22nd in the NFL. Scoring in general was an issue as the 'Skins averaged 2.1 touchdowns per game, which was 26th in the entire NFL.

As a side note, all those aforementioned scoring numbers were higher in the final three weeks with Grossman quarterbacking. Also, the Redskins averaged 21.3 points per game under Grossman and 17 with McNabb at the helm. So you have the positive side of Grossman's game (more points) and the negative side (more turnovers).

However, the absolute worst offensive stat of the season was the team's third down conversion rate. The Redskins finished with a third down success rate of 29 percent, but avoided the basement thanks to the miserable Arizona Cardinals' rate of 28 percent. But considering the Cards were guided by Derek Anderson, Max Hall and whoever else they trotted out during the year, it isn't much of an accomplishment.

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