While there are a number of stats that didn’t go the Redskins way, one of the most telling in showing why the Redskins lost, may be one you wouldn’t expect. That stat, is the team’s passing attempts and in keeping it below the 30 attempt mark (preferably lower). Now to many Redskins fans that may sound crazy, as they believe that with a franchise QB like Robert Griffin III, the Redskins should be slinging the ball all over the field. Unfortunately that isn’t the Mike Shanahan way, and when you are throwing the ball 30 or more times, it is likely to result in a loss.
In the Mike Shanahan era with the Redskins are 10-25 (.287 winning percentage), when attempting 30 or more passes in a game (including last week against the Eagles). Conversely they are 11-3 (.785 winning percentage) when they have fewer than 30 passing attempts in a game. That is a huge distortion between those two numbers, and with now over 3 years of data the sample size it no longer too small to be ignored. People will point to the fact that he didn’t have RGIII for the 49 games thus far of the Shanahan era, but really that shouldn’t matter.
The thing is though when you bring Griffin’s numbers into the mix it just reinforces the point. Griffin is now 1-4 in games where he has thrown the ball 30 times or more, and he is 8-3 in games throwing the ball less than 30 times (8-4 if we are including the playoff game). Of those three losses, two of them against the Rams and Giants he had 29 and 28 attempts respectively, (the other was the Falcons game where he left early). Now Griffin does have wins with 27 attempts and 26 (twice), but it does seem like a trend that the more he throws the worst the Redskins chances for winning the game are.
Now this isn’t Griffin’s fault per se, it’s just how the Redskins are put together. Mike Shanahan has a run first team that is built to be stronger on ground. Their offensive line is better in run blocking than pass blocking and by a pretty good margin. Even the Redskins free agent receiver acquisitions were targeted in part because of their ability to block on the outside for runs. To have this team try to be something they are not and air it out all day is pretty impractical and clearly a recipe for disaster.
If the quarterback is needed to throw the ball 30 or more times, it likely means that the defense has failed and the rushing attack didn’t work. That puts the Redskins off script, meaning that the other team knows they are throwing the ball more and they are likely throwing from worst situations (i.e. 3rd and long). The Redskins can’t afford that today, especially given that Griffin may still be dealing with some rust and a little loss of escapability. This has to be the Alfred Morris and Roy Helu show if the Redskins want to come away with the “W” today.
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Turnover Battle: The Redskins can’t afford to give this Packers offense any free advantage in field position so ball security is paramount. Defensively, you aren’t going to be able to truly stop the Packers offense, the best you can really hope for is forcing a couple key turnovers. If you don’t it will be a long day on defense.
Field Position Battle: One of the best things the Redskins can do to help their defense, is consistently ensure that Rodgers is having to drive 80 plus yards. If you do that you have a real shot to win the game. If Rodgers keeps getting shorter fields, he’ll be nearly impossible to stop.
Red Zone Efficiency: When the Redskins cross the 20 they have to be ending those drives in the end zone. In general you can’t settle on field goals when facing the Packers, but with inexperienced kicker John Potter likely doing the kicking the Redskins can’t risk trying field goals. On defense, the Redskins need a bend but don’t break mentality. If they can force the Packers to settle for a couple field goal attempts they can keep the score manageable.
5-10, 1-0 , 3-11, 2-0 , 2-3, 8-3, 0-1