Bye-week glance: Redskins offense

November 7, 2012

Robert Griffin III has exceeded expectations in his first nine games. (Associated Press)

 

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The Washington Redskins are now just one game past the halfway point of their season. This week gives them a chance to lick their wounds and regroup before they get back to work next week and try to turn their season around.

As Mike Shanahan, Bruce Allen and their staff assess the roster and their methods to this point, let’s take a look at where the Redskins stand. Today we’ll go over the offense, Thursday the defense and Friday special teams.

Statistical glance: Although the last two weeks’ scoring outputs don’t suggest it, the Redskins are indeed better on offense. Through nine games, the unit ranks second in the NFL behind New England for the most yards gained (3,436). Washington averages 381.8 yards per game (seventh in the league) and after seven weeks of ranking among the top five in scoring, now stands 10th in the league, averaging 25.1 points a game. Washington leads the league in total rushing yards (1,481), and its average of 164.6 yards per game is second best behind San Francisco (168.6).

Highlights:

 Lowlights:

 


The rookie tandem of Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris has been one of few bright spots for the Redskins. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

 

The good:

  • Robert Griffin III – The rookie quarterback has exceeded expectations. He has carried his team, using both his legs and his arms and has yet to really look like a rookie out there. He does a good job of taking care of the ball, and spreads the ball around to numerous receivers while limiting interceptions (he has thrown only three). Griffin’s quarterback rating of 93.9 ranks 10th in the league behind Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Matt Schaub, Drew Brees and Josh Freeman. His completion percentage of 65.6 is eighth, behind Manning, Smith, Ryan, Roethlisberger, Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Tony Romo. If not for Griffin, who has thrown for eight touchdowns and rushed for six, this offense would struggle mightily.
  • Alfred Morris – The other rookie has also done well, and ranks fourth in the NFL with 793 rushing yards. Morris is averaging 4.8 yards a carry and has five rushing touchdowns. He is on pace to give the Redskins their first thousand-yard back (1,409) since Clinton Portis rushed for 1,487 in 2008.
  • Offensive line play – The unit hasn’t been perfect, but it certainly has done better than expected. Back in training camp, the question was whether or not it could stay healthy, and if it would be able to keep the quarterback upright and create lanes for the running backs. But the unit has done a decent job of protecting Griffin (it is better at executing blocks in the play-action and roll-out games than straight drop-backs), and has paved the way for the league’s leading rushing attack. Health has been a big factor. And left tackle Trent Williams is having the strongest, and most consistent, season of his career.

 The bad:

  • Pierre Garcon’s health – Aside from the 88-yard touchdown catch-and-run, the Redskins’ biggest free agent signing hasn’t been able to deliver any other highlights. He has appeared in only three games thanks to the torn ligament in the capsule inside the second toe of his right foot. Unable to push off and run with any speed, Garcon has been sidelined for the last five weeks and still walked with a limp on Tuesday.
  • Fred Davis’s season lost – The tight end was on the path to redemption, having stepped up as a leader in addition to playing at a high level. But a ruptured Achilles’ tendon against New York has cost him the remainder of the season and has robbed the Redskins of their only other explosive threat.
  • Lack of playmakers – No one has consistently managed to step up and give the Redskins an explosive go-to guy in Garcon and Davis’s absence. Leonard Hankerson has some clutch catches to go along with several big drops. Morgan has yet to have a breakout game. Aldrick Robinson can’t hang onto the ball consistently, either.
  • Third-down execution – The Redskins are dead last when it comes to third-down percentage, managing to convert only 32 of 112 (28.6 percent) of third-down plays for first downs.
  • Recent red zone struggles – The Redskins have suddenly struggled to put the ball in the end zone, mustering just two touchdowns in six trips inside the 20-yard line in the last two games combined. Conversely, the team has mustered a combined 25 points in the last two games after averaging just better than 28 points a game through the first seven weeks of the season.

 Homestretch needs:

  • Continued health for Griffin, Morris
  • Healthy return of Garcon
  • Other receivers to step up
  • Improvements on third downs
  • Improved pass protection from third-down backs
  • Return of red-zone efficiency
Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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Mike Jones · November 7, 2012

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