Last season we all know that giving up turnovers was one of the Redskins biggest weaknesses, but what people fail to remember is that creating turnovers was nearly as big of an issue. The Redskins finished 23rd in the league with just 21 turnovers, and it is an area that needs to improve in, if they want to be a contender.
Now it is hard to say that turnovers are a necessity for a playoff contender, as the Steelers and Saints finished 32nd and 31st in the league in turnovers, but it can sure help. Eight of the 12 playoff teams, finished in the top 13 in the league in turnovers. Turnovers can also make up for weaknesses in other areas on the defense. Teams like the Packers, Patriots, Lions and Giants gave up a bunch of yards, but all had 31 or more forced turnovers. Those impact plays, help make up for the increased yards (though having both def. helps).
The good news for the Redskins is that one of the best ways to force turnovers is a strong pass rush. Not only does it create more strip fumbles, but the added pressure makes the real difference in creating additional interception opportunities. The bad news is that the Redskins had that pass rush last year and it made little difference. In fact the Redskins created 6 less turnovers than 2010. What’s more troubling is the fact that the Skins played against a number of poor or inexperienced quarterbacks last year, which should have led to more turnovers.
Now the Redskins did add playmakers Tanard Jackson and Brandon Meriweather to the safety position. Overall both are highly questionable defenders, but they could make up for some of their deficiencies by adding some big plays to the Redskins Defense. It’s not a perfect solution (OJ Atogwe had a rep as a playmaker), but should hopefully help the Redskins in the turnover department.
One area that may be harder to fix is fumble recoveries. Now the Redskins actually finished tied for 9th, with 17 forced fumbles, but were tied for 24th with just 8 recoveries. That was one of the worst percentages in the NFL last year, so maybe luck is the biggest issue, but awareness could be a factor as well. Too often last year when the ball was on the ground, the Redskins had an opportunity and failed to capitalize. This is an area that the Redskins can work on (hopefully they’ll get a little luck as well).
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Overall, I think the Redskins pass rush will be the key to creating more turnovers. While the pass rush was good last year, it will hopefully continue to improve (which could be big for the defense in general), and gain more consistency. That in turn should create more ample opportunities for the defense to come up with the big plays. While I think the Redskins primary defensive goal should be to be a top 5 defense (in points and yards would be nice as well), adding an extra 10+ big plays would really help Robert Griffin’s transition to the NFL.