Fact: 15 players on the Redskins’ active roster are less than 6 feet tall. Fact: None of the NFL’s division winners carries as many diminutive bodies. The Green Bay Packers? Only seven players under 6 feet. San Francisco 49ers? Eight. Baltimore Ravens? Ten. New York Giants? Just four. The Redskins like to talk about contending for the NFC East next season. But that’s not a seriously attainable goal with such a lightweight roster.
“This is a team that lacks size, speed, and talent at certain positions,” says former quarterback Joe Theismann. “They have to focus on finding some big, fast game-changers.”
Bigger isn’t the entire answer in the NFL, of course. Smaller and faster is a distinct advantage at certain positions, and there is no measurement that accounts for a London Fletcher, the NFL’s leading tackler at 5 feet 10. But if you are looking for a pattern, a general trend, so many of the things that went wrong with the Redskins this season had to do with the fact that once they lost some big bodies to injuries — the Chris Cooleys, Tim Hightowers, LaRon Landrys — they were just not very prepossessing physically.
They didn’t just lack height, they lacked muscle, and overall field presence. Think about it. Rex Grossman’s tendency to get passes batted down. The five blocked field goals and a blocked extra point. The inability to gain significant yards after contact. Or to bulldoze into the end zone. Or to wrap up opponents.
“As you watch other teams, they’ll have individuals that are just faster and stronger,” Theismann says. “We can’t impose our will on anyone.”
Defensively, the Redskins gave up 30 pass plays of 25 or more yards, tied for 17th in the league. That suggests a couple of things: that their safeties and corners were outjumped on too many occasions, and that they missed tackles or let opponents break free.
The secondary was rarely able to separate the opponent from the ball. Josh Wilson is a nice, young corner who had a career-high 17 deflections, but he’s just 5 feet 9 and 192 pounds. DeAngelo Hall is 5-10, 195. The Redskins created just 21 turnovers — fewer than all but eight teams. How many times did we see Redskins defenders meet opponents at the point of a catch, and make enough of an impact to disrupt the play?
On the other side of the ball, the Redskins’ receivers averaged just 4.8 yards after the catch, 27th in the league out of 32 teams. How often did a Redskin burst a tackle and hit the afterburners?