Redskins’ historically bad special teams likely to improve?

November 13, 2013

Too often this season, as on this Dwayne Harris punt return, the Redskins special teams have been steps behind. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

A couple days ago, I had a brief chat with Aaron Schatz of FootballOutsiders.com for a front-page graphic in the print edtions accompanying Mark Maske’s story about Washington’s chance to again make a run from 3-6 into the postseason. During that conversation, he and I got off on a tangent about Washington’s special teams, and he revealed this:

According to Football Outsiders data, going back to 1989, only the 2010 Chargers and the 2008 Vikings were worse on special teams than the 2013 Redskins. The Chargers might immediately leap to mind as the team that had two punts blocked in the first five minutes of a game against the Raiders, leading to nine points in an eight-point win.

Schatz pointed out that the 2013 Texans and Giants are also among the 10 worst ever measured in special teams. Sports on Earth’s Mike Tanier took it much further on Monday, comparing four of the other worst units of all time and writing that the Redskins might be the worst special teams ever. The Insider and D.C. Sports Bog has documented the Redskins’ special teams struggles this season, but if you haven’t read Tanier’s piece yet, it’s recommended.

Schatz, meantime, in this week’s DVOA ratings at Football Outsiders, reveals the similarities between Washington’s consecutive 3-6 starts. Part of what he wrote:

“[I]f we look at the rankings in each category, the differences aren’t really that big. Last year at this time, Washington was 14th in offense, 23rd in defense, and 28th in special teams. This year, Washington is 15th in offense, 24th in defense, and 32nd in special teams. The difference between the two teams is almost entirely Washington’s historically awful special teams performance — which also is the unit most likely to improve in the second half of the season, since special teams performance is so much less consistent than offense or defense.”

So there’s hope at least.

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesdays.

What’s ahead:

● Chip Kelly says the Eagles are expecting an improved Robert Griffin III.

● Washington practices today at 1 p.m. Mike Shanahan and Griffin are expected to talk to reporters after practice.

More on the Redskins & NFL:

Reid: Shanahan deserves a new contract

Redskins get a second chance to face Kelly’s Eagles offense | First look at Foles

Mailbag: On Mike Shanahan’s future | Outsider: Pass to Moss was a good call

Reunited Brees, Payton have Saints thinking big

D.C. Sports Bog: Niles Paul and kick returns Redskins fan fired for arguing More

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @MarkMaske | @Insider | Insider on Facebook

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Mike Jones · November 13, 2013

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