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Inside the Numbers - Redskins @ Cowboys
by Chris Russell
Oct 25, 2014 -- 12:02am
ESPN 980

The Redskins and the Cowboys. Two teams, one rivalry and a national prime time stage at AT&T Stadium.

We will have extensive and all day coverage of Monday Night Football starting at 2 PM ET live from AT&T Stadium in Arlington on ESPN 980 and then at 4:30 on the Washington Redskins Radio Network.

A lot has been made about the meaning of "Dallas Week" in the media. I personally do not treat the Cowboys any differently than any other NFC East game. It's a ridiculous notion that games or weeks against the Cowboys means more than they do against the Eagles or Giants.

I've been covering the Redskins for almost six years. I've never asked ONE and will never ask ONE single question referring to "Dallas Week." It's useless and means nothing to me.

Do you really think Cowboys fans run around Texas, thinking about "Redskins week?" NO, they don't. Not to mention, they hate the Eagles more than Washington.

With that being said, it is a great rivalry and I don't believe that the rivalry is dead. Not by any means. The only really good memory I have in my nearly six years of covering the team is on that magical Sunday night for the NFC East championship.

I. Some Numbers on the Rivalry:

A. The Cowboys have beaten the Redskins 64 times  in their 108 contests against each other. Overall, Dallas is 64-40-2 against the Redskins, but (0-2) in playoff games (both NFC Championship games) and lost that play-in game a year-and-a-half ago.

B. This is the 16th meeting between the Redskins and Cowboys on Monday Night Football which is 2nd most (Oakland vs Denver -17) in the history of the prime time series.

C. Dallas is 23-9 against the Redskins in their last 32 games against each other.

D. The Cowboys are 43-32 on Monday Night Football, but honestly with all of the primetime games, MNF has completely lost the unique value the platform once had.

E. Last year, on a Sunday night NBC game, the Cowboys beat the Redskins 31-16 in a game that was a special teams debacle for Washington. That's something we will address later.

II. How they were built?

The Cowboys have built their starting offense on a college free agent (Tony Romo), a 3rd round pick in DeMarco Murray, a first round pick at receiver in Dez Bryant, along with three other mid-round draft picks (Terrance Williams, Dwayne Harris, Devin Street) and Cole Beasley was a college free agent.

Jason Witten was a third round pick. Gavin Escobar, who is emerging at tight end, was a 2nd round pick in 2013.

The starting offensive line, which has been dominant, goes Tyron Smith (1st round, '11), Ronald Leary (college free agent, 2012), Travis Frederick (1st round, '13), Zack Martin (1st round, '14) and Doug Free (4th round, 2007.)

In essence, they have two major pieces of the puzzle that were college free agents in Romo and Leary. Four first round picks that are studs in Bryant, Smith, Frederick and Martin. Witten and Murray are third round selections and you get the point.

The Redskins gave up a fortune for Robert Griffin III and certainly it helped them win a 2012 division title, but it was too steep of a price to pay when they made the deal (asI said many times) and now the future is at least cloudy.

They knew back then that they were mortgaging their future on Griffin. They also knew that they were going to serve some type of cap penalty before they made the deal official. When they found out, they could have pulled the plug but chose not to do so.

Their receivers are three high priced free agents in DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts, combining for a robust amount of their salary cap. They have utilized the draft very well at running back Alfred Morris (sixth round, '12) and Roy Helu (4th round, '11), while also doing it right at tight end, Jordan Reed (third round '12) and Niles Paul (5th round '11) but also spent a high fourth round pick on Kirk Cousins in 2012 to be insurance for Robert Griffin III.

Their offensive line has one stud in Trent Williams (1st round '10), and four free agents in Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Chris Chester and Tyler Polumbus.

Tom Compton will start his first game on Monday night for Polumbus at right tackle, and he was a 2012 sixth round pick, but Washington has received very little from Compton, Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis (released)  and so far 2013 third round picks, Spencer Long and Morgan Moses.

They've invested in quantity, but have received almost next to ZERO production from five mid-round draft picks.

Some of that could be on coaching, a lot of it is on the players inability to contribute, but a good deal of that has to be focused on either reaching for players (LeRibeus) or not investing a high enough priority in this particular group.

It leaves you with no flexibility. It leaves with no identity.

What's the Cowboys identity?? Run the ball and mash it down your throat until you sell out against the run and then we'll go up top on you.

What's the Redskins bread-and-butter?? know. I, uhhh, it was something but now that is a complete debacle.

This is what happens when you invest and re-invest in a position group that needs five starters to be good and not mediocre or lightning in a bottle type guys. Instead, the Redskins poured a lot of resources into the quarterback position and the wide receiver group and didn't leave enough assets for the most important unit on an offense.

This was on top of the McNabb disaster and three second round picks in 2008 going to three guys that were of very little help to you (Fred Davis, Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas).

III. Remember the last time the Redskins were in Dallas? Yikes.

It was a special teams bonanza for the Cowboys and the beginning of the end for not only Keith Burns but Mike Shanahan as well. Dwayne Harris  destroyed the Redskins and for that matter the NFL, as he finished in the top-three in both kick and punt returns.

He had a 12.8 yard per punt return average and a 30.6 yard per kickoff return average in 2013.

Against the Redskins, he had a 86-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 90-yard kickoff return that set up another touchdown. In total, Harris had 222 total return yards.

The Cowboys entire offense had only 213 yards on that night, so Harris out-gained them all.

This year, Harris is averaging 25.9 yards per kick return on 11 opportunities and a long of 30, while he is much more pedestrian than last year on punt returns (12-81, 6.8, 5 fair catches).

Somehow, the Redskins tend to make everybody look special. They are  allowing 8.7 per punt return with only two fair catches on 21 punts and 27.7 per kick return (17-471).

Even if you take away the 102-yard kick return for a touchdown in Philadelphia, Washington is still giving up 23.06 per return. Still not good, but better.

So how does Ben Kotwica walk away without an embarrassing performance on Monday night? Kai Forbath has to be even better than he was in Arizona two weeks ago on touchbacks. He had three-out-of-four attempts that afternoon indoors at University of Phoenix Stadium.

In his only other game indoors this year, Forbath was (1-1) on touchbacks in Houston. Forbath is (9-10) in his career on field goal attempts indoors, including a huge one that locked up the Redskins win in Dallas on Thanksgiving in 2012.

I am more concerned with punt return this week, because of the lack of fair catches forced which is usually indicative of out-kicking coverage and poor hang time, which has been knocks against Tress Way and the fact that the punt return unit was not very good against Seattle (10.8 per return/five) and against Arizona (12.3 per return/three).

Do the Redskins try and pooch kicks (I doubt it, because of the indoors thing) or do they try and pin Harris in on the sideline? Much more likely in my eyes.

IV. The notion that the Cowboys defense is good ....

It's not really good, but hey, why let facts get in the way of a good story? Dallas is giving up an average of 6.1 yards-per-play. That's significant for a couple of reasons. It matches what their prolific offense is averaging per play.

The Cowboys are 27th in the NFL in this category, behind the New York Giants, Carolina, Atlanta, Tampa, St. Louis.

The Redskins defense is at 5.2 per play, which is 10th best.

The Cowboys defense is giving up 4.9 yards per rushing attempt, so if the Redskins running attack doesn't click this week - I have no idea what to say.

Dallas is on the field for an average of 26:00 per game. It doesn't seem like that should be that big of a deal, but it is huge. It's one extra series at least, maybe even two series that the Cowboys D does not have to be on the field. For comparison sake,because the Redskins offense has been brutal on third down and in the running game this year, Jim Haslett's defense is on the field for an average of 30:24.

If you don't think that counts, I have no idea what to tell you.

Before last week's win against the Titans for Washington and the Cowboys sixth straight,

I did a defensive team unit breakdown that still has merit today. It shows you how much better the Redskins defense is compared to their Dallas counterpart.

The Redskins offense is a notch better than the Cowboys offense at 6.2 yards-per-play so this should be a very interesting matchup and spot for Colt McCoy.

V. Speaking of Colt

It's his first start since 2011, although he has appeared in four games in the last two plus years including last week.

This is by far the most talent he's ever played with. With the Browns in 2011, he played with elite talent like Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty, along with Mohamed Massaquoi and a rookie in Greg Little.

He did have a young  Jordan Cameron, who was just a rookie,  at tight end and a Gronkowski, but it wasn't Rob, it was a Dan. It was much the same in 2010, which is to say he played with virtually nobody.

I keep seeing some fans say "we knew who he is" but the question is, how do we know who a quarterback is if that quarterback played with nobody but Joe Thomas at left tackle?

Chris Russell

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The Only Way Griffin Is Playing....
by Chris Russell
Oct 22, 2014 -- 6:14pm

Robert Griffin III participated in some team drills on Wednesday here at Redskins Park and "looked good" according to Head Coach Jay Gruden.

From the limited window of practice time that the media is allowed to see, it appeared to me that Griffin was moving a lot better than he was last Sunday at FedExField when I watched him closely from the Redskins sideline.

Griffin had a few seven step drops and was working on elements of the game that he became known for in 2012. I still haven't seen him make any sharp cuts or stare down a blitz and deliver a strike.

That being said, Griffin is not playing on Monday in Arlington at AT&T Stadium if Jay Gruden is truly making the decision.

From a medical perspective, Griffin is healed enough to run and participate. I don't know anybody that could say medically he is 100% in a pure football context, because he hasn't  been asked to do everything he will need to do in a game until today. That's assuming he even did that.

Even then, as it was last year, a practice with no contact and no heat seeking missiles rocketing toward you without a gold jersey on your back can not be replicated. It is  especially true if you have to sprint away and make an awkward plant or cut.

Jay Gruden told reporters on Wednesday,  "We'll find out from the trainers how he feels right now, then tomorrow morning will be the big thing. Another day's work tomorrow (Thursday), we'll see how it progresses."

So let me get this straight, they won't even know medically how Griffin responds to Wednesday until Thursday morning at the earliest and then people expect him to start on Monday night??

This isn't the right tackle situation where you can split the reps and evaluate as you go along. This is the QUARTERBACK position. Robert Griffin III has not played in a game since September 14th and has not taken a full load of starter reps since September 12th.

How for the love of humanity does ANYBODY think he should start on Monday night? Fans (and gullible media)  want to be excited and want to fall in love with this fantasy that Griffin is going to ride in on a white horse and save the day.

It would make for great television and bad football. It's not happening. Unless.....

That's the tricky part. I know for a fact that if the decision is Jay Gruden's,  Griffin will not play on Monday night. There's no way. Not a chance. Or like I said on Tuesday, a negative 5.0% chance. Not very good odds.

After the Redskins beat the Titans, I talked to people involved in the process and it was clear what the plan was and that it wasn't going to waver. I tried to make that clear even before Jay Gruden made it clear during the week.

This isn't about Griffin not being good or anything. I know for a fact that he has a long way to go when he's healthy. He has an even longer way to go right now.

You can't play a game on the road with the Redskins offensive line and Griffin's tendency to hold onto to the ball way too long with a few days of partial team reps. Maybe Peyton Manning or Tom Brady could do something like that, but not Griffin. Not at this point.

Maybe ever.

Here's the bottom line: Robert Griffin III is not capable of playing on Monday night at a high level, even if he thinks he is. Jay Gruden knows it. The entire coaching staff knows it. Players in the locker room know it.

Gruden is doing the prudent thing, and leaving all of his options open - but it struck me as very revealing that he mentioned that if Griffin does not get cleared, "we will wait another week or two or three after the bye week."

In other words, Gruden's not really in a rush. He made this reference more than once. He wants to see if Colt McCoy can do what Kirk Cousins could not do. Operate the offense efficiently without mistakes or negative plays. He believes it is about the system and playmakers making plays. Also about quarterbacks avoiding making plays for the opponent.

The problem is this: What if Bruce Allen or Dan Snyder think he is? What if the final decision is not Jay Gruden's to make?  I'd like to believe it is, but I can't rule out that possibility and as a matter of fact, I give it a decent level of credibility that can not be discounted or dismissed.

I would like to think that Allen would not undermine his hand picked head coach this quickly, but it is beyond clear based on sources within the organization that Dan Snyder very much wants Griffin to play (not specifically on Monday) and is still completely of the belief that he can be a franchise, elite quarterback.

He might be one day, but that day is not right now.

Snyder is growing extremely frustrated by the constant failures of his team, team sources say, despite what he believes is his removal from the football operations. That's a dangerous mix.

I don't blame Snyder for being impatient. He has a lot of resources and investment tied up in the franchise, and that's just the on-field portion. I would be beyond impatient.

With the national stage that Monday Night Football provides, this has the smell of another Monday night disaster four years ago when the Redskins rewarded Donovan McNabb with a contract extension that was basically worth the paper it was written on.

That was against the wishes of the coaching staff at that point, from what I was told. The original acquisition of Mcnabb was a matter of "well he's better than what we have" but not that much better. The previous head coach knew it wasn't going to work by that point in 2010, and yet the Redskins wanted to make a huge national splash as they took center stage on Monday Night Football.

It didn't work so well, if you remember anything about the "Monday Night Massacre."

That's how this organization far too often operates. What will get the most attention, the most buzz, the most coverage?  Who sells the most jerseys and who will excite our beyond loyal fan base?

The problem with that is that it almost never works. Albert Haynesworth anyone?

My fear is that with the national stage that ESPN provides and the irresistible urge to beat Jerry Jones and the Cowboys, to therefore shock the world, is that the powers that be force their will down the throat of  a rookie head coach.

I hope they won't. They shouldn't. He deserves better. Robert deserves better. He's not ready yet.

Only somebody that values headlines and buzz over reality would think that it is a good idea to start Griffin in Dallas. Hopefully, that lesson has been taught by now. Hopefully. For everybody's sake.

Chris Russell - -

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Three-and-OUT - Redskins finally win but at what cost?
by Chris Russell
Oct 20, 2014 -- 10:51am
ESPN 980

The Redskins finally won a game, 19-17, over a team that they should have beaten handily.
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Let's start with this: The Tennessee Titans are awful and they were missing three starters in QB Jake Locker, RB Shonn Green and DE Ropati Pitoitua. That does not mean they don't have ability or effort. They do and that's why they almost stole one in Landover. Remember, this is a Titans team that upset the Chiefs in Kansas City to open the season.

The Redskins will take it. They have no other choice to accept it and now they can hope to build on it with the surging and red hot Dallas Cowboys next up on Monday Night
Football in Dallas.

Here's three issues and themes that deserve some attention the morning after the win, while everybody has some relief for a change.

1. Special Teams:  They were finally kind of special!

This is somewhat historic. Kai Forbath hit the game winning field goal as time expired. It was a career day for Forbath who had earlier hit three field goals to get the Redskins in position to win.

All of the distances were short, which was good for Forbath and bad for the Redskins offense (more on that later).

With his 2nd field goal and because he cemented that with two more including the game-winner, Forbath became the Redskins all time career leader in accuracy based on a minimum of 50 attempts.

"I had no idea," Forbath told ESPN 980 after his press conference at FedExField. "It's quite an honor knowing that Mark Moseley was here." Forbath is now (46-52) in his Redskins career, good for an 88.4 % career mark.

"I'm just trying to build on that and help out the team," Forbath told me Sunday. Moseley has the most field goals in Redskins history at 263, but Shaun Suisham was the most accurate kicker in Redskins history (based on a minimum of 50 attempts) until yesterday. (Credit Chuck Sapienza ESPN 980 & Redskins Radio)

Suisham finished at 80.2% during his time with the Redskins. Forbath also has been steadily improving with his kickoffs as well. He had two touchbacks in five attempts yesterday. He was three of four indoors in Arizona and now stands at seven touchbacks and eight returns this season. That's improvement but still a situation that is concerning.

The other special teams play that the Redskins desperately needed was Niles Paul being in perfect position to recover a muffed punt by Dexter McCluster. Washington turned that turnover into a field goal. It's a good thing, because Tress Way's kick was short considering where Washington kicked from and maybe that was part of the thinking to not out-kick your coverage.

There was a bad moment on specials as rookie Trent Murphy was offside on a punt which temporarily extended a Titans drive before Bashaud Breeland came up with an interception. Redskins fans will not remember this (of course) but Brian Orakpo belted Charlie Whitehurst on the throw which helped create the Redskins first generated turnover since September 25th.

2. The Redskins offense is still in quick sand, but....

A. As a team, they generated 100 yards on the ground split between Alfred Morris, Roy Helu and Darrel Young. Colt McCoy also contributed two scrambles for three yards. This was on 26 attempts for a 3.8 average. Better (I suppose) but nowhere near good enough.

B. Kirk Cousins was pulled at halftime after a terrible interception to linebacker Wesley Woodyard on a bad read or under throw of a deeper crossing route. He also could have done a better job of getting rid of the ball on the sack & fumble turnover deep in Redskins territory. Cousins was (10-16) for 139 and did hook up with Niles Paul on the first series of the game for a play action boot and throw up the Redskins sideline, along with a 37 yard sparkling hookup to DeSean Jackson in the 2nd quarter on a 3rd-and-eight situation which has been doom for Washington.  Cousins also had two delay-of-game penalties which could have been more communication issues with the headsets or it could have been something else.

C. Colt McCoy took over and immediately hooked up with Pierre Garcon on a seven-yard hitch completion, that Garcon took off after forcing the defender to miss a tackle and ran all the way for a 70-yard touchdown catch and run. McCoy was efficient with a simplified play calling structure and accurate (11/12) but also took some shots down the field to DeSean Jackson on the final drive that were either wiped out by penalty or drew a penalty to set up the game winning field goal.  

I loved how McCoy patiently worked the final game winning drive. The Redskins had two timeouts and the two-minute warning and drove from their 20 at 3:14 left on the clock to be in position for the game winning chip shot as time expired. Good situational football is something the Redskins have not been known for in any way, under any coach.

D. In the red zone, the Redskins struggled. They were (0-4). They were (11-17, touchdowns to opportunities) before Sunday with four field goals added to the mix before yesterday.

Now they are (11-21) but at least have scored in 19 of 21 possessions.

They still need to be a lot better on third down. They were (3-11) against the Titans and are now a miserable (26 - 82) on the year. That's a 31.7 % conversion rate. Yeesh.

E. DeSean Jackson is really good and in ways the Redskins have not had. I was out-spoken about his addition ten minutes after he was released and I still believe the Redskins would have been better spreading the wealth around, but I can't and won't deny his impact. He gives Washington a jolt of electricity and his presence should benefit others. At some point.

3. Brian Orakpo will be lost for the year with a torn pec:

Brian Orakpo was never really healthy this year from game one of the season. He's fought off an ankle sprain, two dislocated fingers (one on each hand) and now a torn pec on the opposite side of his body from the two previous tears that required surgery.

Trent Murphy will replace him in the starting lineup with Jackson Jeffcoat getting increased playing time and  the Redskins could once again possibly promote Gabe Miller or go back to Everette Brown.

Either way, it is not a good situation short or long-term for the Redskins or Orakpo.

Yes, Orakpo only has a half sack this year but he played his best game of the season in Arizona and belted Charlie Whitehurst just as he released which helped an errant throw on an interception to Bashaud Breeland.

Critics will focus only on the half sack, but Orakpo is/was good against the run and probably is the Redskins best coverage linebacker out of a group that is either raw (Keenan Robinson) or not great. 

Orakpo needed to do more to fill up the boxscore because that's all that counts for most observers, but as former Redskins linebackers & current Titans linebackers coach (former UCLA DC) Lou Spanos told me Sunday, Orakpo is still an "elite player."


Redskins fans that have filled my twitter timeline for weeks now should just be completely embarrassed and in self-evaluation mode. The pure and bitter anger that many of you who will go nameless have demonstrated towards Orakpo and Tyler Polumbus (split time with Tom Compton) is simply horrifying.

I am disgusted and stunned to see your words. You know who you are. Orakpo and Polumbus have given everything they could this year and over the last several years. They have both been productive players at different times.

Last year, Polumbus was the 2nd best offensive linemen on the team (watch the tape) and Orakpo coming into this year had averaged ten sacks a season plus stopped the run and has been a great team leader. You never had to worry about him getting arrested or peeing in a cup and having it turn up dirty.

Sorry, this is not an attack on everyone but for the Redskins fans that are in this awful category - YOU are completely wrong. You should be embarrassed.

Chris Russell - -

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Inside the Numbers - Titans @ Redskins
by Chris Russell
Oct 17, 2014 -- 11:18pm
ESPN 980

The (1-5) Washington Redskins host the (2-4) Tennessee Titans on Sunday at FedExField on "Alumni Homecoming" weekend.

This event hasn't always been met with the warmest regards and clearly the Redskins are hoping a ceremony to honor former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien and the good times, will bring the crowd to Landover instead of eating their tickets and not drinking beer.

The Redskins are (1-3) on these particular weekends since Bruce Allen took over in an executive capacity. For whatever that is worth. They've lost to Indianapolis, San Francisco and Carolina. Last year, they beat the San Diego Chargers in overtime.

It would be their last win of 2013, and they've only won one other game since then in regular season play.

That game was a shootout. San Diego's offense was led by Ken Whisenhunt, who helped Phillip Rivers revitalize his career and is a former member of the Redskins from 1989-90.

Now Whisenhunt is once again a head coach but there is no Phillip Rivers. It's expected that Charlie Whitehurst will start for Tennessee, but Jake Locker could be worked into the fold.

With that as a back drop, let's go Inside the Numbers.

I. The "money down" woes continue:

We wrote extensively last week about the Jordan Reed factor on third down and a way to help the offense

It really didn't change much, as the Redskins were (2-10) in Arizona. Reed was a big addition to the overall offense and should help loosen up a lot of things if the Redskins
can operate better in all phases. Last week in Glendale, Reed had eight catches for 92 yards.

Reed was targeted on a 3rd & Goal from the Arizona-10 and appeared to run a broken off route. On the same series, Reed caught a pass on a 3rd/10 situation and was initially ruled to have the first down before the play was reversed. Reed did not convert on a 3rd down opportunity in the first half, but he did hook up with Kirk Cousins on a 3rd/6 for 10 yards on the very first series after halftime. Washington failed on their next three official opportunities on 3rd down the rest of the way (a fourth was wiped out due to penalty) and that was that.

The Redskins had only four official third down attempts on eight series during the 2nd half. While they are not very good at it, you would like more attempts.

Part of that  is because of turnovers on first and second down, and part of that is because of their hurry-up late touchdown drive that ended with a Pierre Garcon touchdown- they never were in a 3rd down spot.

Either way, Washington has to be better on the money down. They're (23-71) and 32.4 % on the year, with a not so sparkling (2-31) record on 3rd & 7 plus. This is the problem.

They are (21-40) in 3rd down & 1-6 situations. So the problem isn't necessarily 3rd down as much as it is 3rd & 7 or more.

Ready for a number that will tell you everything? The Redskins have had 22 of those 31 opportunities come at a distance of 3rd & 10 or MORE. That's 71 % of their 3rd and long situations at 3rd & 10 or greater. A weird statistical nugget that is somewhat eye opening is that the offense is (5-13) on 3rd & 2 and/or 3rd/3 situations.


II. Why are they in so many third-and-long situations?

Part of it is the lack of a great running game for the Redskins. They're 23rd overall the NFL in rushing yards per game and 20th in rushing yards per play.

John Keim of ESPN & ESPN 980 wrote about the running game woes this week and that is a huge part of the issue.

The offensive line is not able to get a consistent push and at times Jay Gruden and Sean McVay have been married way too much to the passing game, as CSN Washington's Rich Tandler wrote about.  Sometimes I can't blame them.

The strange part in all of this is that the Redskins rank first in the NFL in total yards on first down plays (1,245) and first in the NFC (2nd in the NFL) in yards per first-down play (6.84).

You would think this would not be the case. Clearly, DeSean Jackson has contributed some of that. Not as much as I thought. He did have the 81-yard touchdown in Philadelphia on first down, and and 57 yard catch in the Seattle game on first down, but his touchdown catches the last two weeks have both been on 2nd down. Arizona was a 2nd & 20 and his 60 yard touchdown against Seattle was on a 2nd & 6.

Per NFL GSIS, The Redskins have run 79 rushing plays for 334 yards on 1st & 10, an average of 4.23. They rank 13th in the NFL in first down run yardage gained.

On the same situation, Washington has 84 passing plays for 816 yards which is good for a 9.71 per pass play average and a # 1 ranking in the NFL. On 2nd & 10, the Redskins have passed 18 times for 204 yards ( # 3 in NFL) at a clip of 11.33 per pass play.

The larger numbers just do not add up. There is no one glaring trend. The only thing I can think of is when you combine penalties, with a inconsistent running game and defenses that are focused on making you one dimensional, you get in trouble more often than not.

That's the only thing that makes sense.

Our most recent entry gives you some more focus on why the Redskins are (1-5) and the Cowboys are (5-1). Washington travels to Dallas a week from this Monday.
III. Another problem is field position.

The Redskins are dreadful in this area. They've been unable to get much of anything from their kick return game as Andre Roberts has only had seven opportunities for 148 yards, an average of 21.1.  

Their punt return game is OK  at (11-113,10.3) with 13 fair catches. More fair catches than actual returns is probably a sign of a losing battle.

On kickoff return coverage, the Redskins are brutal. Opponents have 14 returns for 409 yards and even if you take away the Chris Polk 102-yard kick in Philadelphia, it's still (13-307) or a 23.61 average. Right now it's a 29.2 per return average.

Just in kickoff return averages, the Redskins are a minus 8.1 yards compared to what they are giving up. In other words, allowing the opponent to start between the 28 and 35 yard line on virtually every drive is a killer.

Just to put it in perspective, the Redskins basically start every drive recently at their 20 or worse and their opponents start somewhere between their 28 - 33 yard line on average. A huge difference. says that on the Redskins 76 drives this year on offense, their average start is their own 22.8 yard line. The last three games that number is well south of that. has the Redskins average starting field position on offense at the 21.88, which is 31st or 2nd worst in the league. The only team worse is Jacksonville.

Redskins opponents are starting at an average of their 31.21 yard line, which is 29th in the league. Only Chicago, Oakland and Jacksonville are worse.

Now you see why the Redskins are (1-5).

IV. One more for the road....turnovers (and not the good kind)

The Redskins defense has only generated four turnovers. That's not good.

The Redskins offense has committed 13 turnovers, for a minus nine turnover ratio in six games. By any calculation that's bad.

Michael David Smith had this really hard to digest number on Kirk Cousins interception rate of 4.6 % in his career. It is significantly worse than some really bad quarterback company. 

Just in case you were wondering, Robert Griffin's is a 1.9% for his career and was a sparkling 1.3% in 2012.

Cousins is 1:1 in his career ratio (18 touchdowns to 18 interceptions) but has three  lost fumbles as well

Griffin is more than 2:1 with 36 touchdown passes to 17 interceptions with seven more rushing touchdowns for a total of 43. He does have 25 career fumbles, but has only lost seven of them.

To the defense, New England leads the NFL now with 14 take-aways. They have a net differential of plus 9.

Washington's minus nine turnover differential has them tied for 31st with the New York Jets who hve also played one more game than Washington. In terms of actual take-aways, the Jets have one less at three. Same for Kansas City. New Orleans has only two. Jacksonville has the same amount (4).

Those are some of the worst teams in the league. So are the Redskins.

Chris Russell - -

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Cowboys are (5-1) & the Redskins are (1-5) ..Here's why
by Chris Russell
Oct 16, 2014 -- 11:08am
ESPN 980

The Redskins are (1-5) and sinking into football oblivion. They have an extremely small chance to make the playoffs at this point, but quite honestly, they're only playing for respectability.

How do I define that? An (8-8) record with a strong finish. How might some define that?
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Beating the Cowboys twice and whatever else happens is fine. Not me. The only reason I care about the Redskins beating the Cowboys is because it is a divisional game. Washington is already (0-2) in NFC East play, and (0-4) in conference play. You have no chance at all if you don't win games against teams that you are competing with in tiebreakers, should it come to that.


If the Redskins lose to the Titans, all of the silly #DallasWeek questions can probably  be retired.

The Cowboys are a stunning (5-1) for a team that many picked (including me) to be the last place shoe-in for the basement in the NFC East.

So why are the Cowboys in first place and the Redskins nowhere close? Why is Dallas so much better than Washington?

The answers aren't what many think. I've heard time and time again from uninformed fans that the Cowboys were playing great on defense, with no talent and all of their injuries.

So a few weeks ago, when I heard this, I did some fact checking and found this opinion to be completely and totally false.

This week, and ahead of the Redskins first meeting with the Cowboys, I did some more fact checking and for those of you that hate Jim Haslett (for no reason) and by extension, me (also for no good reason), I present to you the truth.

I flash back to a "A Few Good Men" and Jack Nicholson's famous line, "you want the truth, you can't handle the truth." What a great movie....anyways back to football.

Comparing the two teams on defense. All rankings are for the entire NFL.

The Redskins are 10th in yards per game allowed, while the Cowboys are 15th in this area. The Redskins are 12th in yards per play allowed, and the Cowboys are 29th which is actually an upgrade from where they were two weeks ago. Last year, Dallas was 30th in yards per play. Only San Diego and Chicago were worse in the NFL.

The Redskins are 12th in rushing yards allowed per game, and 10th in rushing yards allowed per play. The Cowboys are 17th in rushing yards allowed per game and 31st (2nd worst in NFL) in rushing yards per play.

The Redskins are 13th in passing yards per game allowed and 17th in passing yards per play allowed. Dallas is 12th in passing yards per game allowed while slightly worse than the Redskins at 19th in passing yards per play allowed.

Washington is 23rd in punt return coverage average, while 29th in kickoff return average allowed while the Cowboys are better (20th punt return and 12th in kickoff return) average against.

The Redskins are tied for 7th in the red zone and are 27th in points per game allowed while the Cowboys are tied for 13th in red zone defense and tied for 8th in points given up. As always, points allowed are not solely on the defense. The Redskins allowed 14 points Sunday in Arizona, on 41 yards gained by the Cardinals offense (interception return TD & punt return to WSH-41). They allowed 28 points in the Giants game, on a combined 127 yards gained by New York because of turnovers.

These numbers just do not match at all.

Dallas has only six sacks for their defense, but have forced ten turnovers while the Redskins have pretty much the opposite numbers with 15 sacks and only four turnovers.

As you can clearly see, the Dallas defense has generated turnovers this year which has been huge. Kudos to them. Sometimes, turnovers are pure luck. Sometimes it is a skill to force them, just the same as it is a skill to avoid them.

Which leads us to the offensive numbers, because good or bad offense (along with special teams) has a lasting impact on a defense. Doesn't it? Of course, it does.

The Redskins are 7th in yards per game gained, while the Cowboys are better at 4th in the NFL. Washington is better in yards per play (4th) than Dallas at (6th).

The Cowboys offense has put on a clinic so far rushing the ball to the tune of # 1 in rushing yards per game and 5th in rushing yards per play, while the Redskins are a woeful 23rd in rushing yards per game and 20th in rushing per play stats.

The Redskins are better in the passing game in terms of yardage, at # 5 in pass yards per game and # 4 in pass yards per play. Dallas is 16th and 8th respectively. I would also say that the Cowboys have made two incredible catches in their last two weeks (Dez Bryant vs Houston in OT, Terrence Williams @ Seattle). The Redskins do not have anybody making super human efforts like those two guys have.

Redskins special teams continue to kill the offense and defense in terms of field positions. They are 30th in kickoff return average and 9th in punt return average.  

Dallas is 9th in kickoff returns and 16th in punt returns.

Washington has 13 turnovers (eight interceptions, five lost fumbles) while the Cowboys have only been slightly better at 12. Tony Romo has five interceptions and seven lost fumbles. DeMarco Murray has coughed the ball up four times.

The Redskins are better in the red zone (Tied for 7th) than the Cowboys are. They're tied for 13th.

The Redskins are 31st in the NFL on 3rd Down (32.4 %) and the Cowboys are an amazing 56.3 % on the money down, which of course would be # 1. Argument over.

As you can see, anybody that thinks the Cowboys defense is the reason for their success is completely out of their mind. Offense wins in this league boys and girls and that's how the Cowboys are (5-1) and why the Redskins are (1-5).

Chris Russell - -

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Three-And-OUT - Redskins @ Cardinals
by Chris Russell
Oct 13, 2014 -- 3:22am
ESPN 980

The Redskins lost their fourth consecutive game on Sunday in Glendale, Arizona by a final score of 30-20.

Once again, they competed and fought hard. Once again, they beat themselves as much as the Cardinals beat them.

ESPN 980 Galleries That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Let's play our weekly feature three-and-out and focus on three big issues besides the complete mess that Jay Gruden's offensive unit is.

1. The Redskins defense had one sack (split by Jason Hatcher and Ryan Kerrigan). Once again, that's not enough. Normally, I care more about quarterback pressure and significant heat than I do about sacks, but this defense simply is not talented enough (even when healthy) to hold up consistently in coverage when plays break down and opposing teams make tremendous plays that the Redskins offense never seem to make. For that matter, in any area of the game.

The Redskins did have seven quarterback hits and pressured Carson Palmer many times. Palmer was decisive, accurate and extremely proficient when under pressure. Sound familiar? It wasn't a carbon copy of Russell Wilson and the Seahawks but there were some similarities.

The Redskins have to find a way to finish plays. That is NOT on a defensive coordinator. That is on players making plays and not being denied.

2. It's especially important to create pressure and get home on that pressure, when you can't force turnovers. This is even more true when you are playing without your top three corners and your extremely good nose tackle.

Brian Orakpo will be hailed as a waste of money and a piece of trash by fans who didn't watch the same game I did. Yes, he absolutely has to make a key interception deep in
Redskins territory that ended with a Arizona field goal. It could have been (although unlikely) a pick six.

Orakpo is playing with two dislocated fingers and a bad ankle. When I asked him after the game if the finger cast on his hand had an impact, he wouldn't use it as an excuse but I know that it did. There's no doubt in my mind.

Orakpo was terrific for the most part against the run. He constantly knifed in and re-routed Andre Ellington or helped stop it. He had two quarterback hits. I thought he had his best game of the year. Watch the tape. You will see what I saw.

3. The defense allowed their first touchdown after the offense and special teams failed once again and allowed the Cardinals to set up shop at the Washington-41. Once again, field position was and is an issue because of turnovers and spotty return coverage.

Arizona's starting field position was their 35-yard line. That's three games in a row where the Redskins defense has been forced to defense over a dozen or so drives from an average of either the 35 or 40. You can't win that way.

I thought the defense came up with some great plays, but clearly not enough.

A. Will Compton looked very spry in coverage at least three or four times and was a noticeable upgrade from Perry Riley in coverage.

B. Orakpo had a huge 3rd/1 stop on the Cards second series of the game. Ryan Kerrigan had an enormous 3rd/1 stop later in the game.

C. Bashaud Breeland struggled at times with very tight coverage on Larry Fitzgerald and even Michael Floyd, but received no help from Ryan Clark who appeared to be playing too shallow on Floyd's touchdown or from the officials who ruled that Breeland committed a defensive pass interference on a key third down incompletion. That very touchy foul that could have gone either way, extended a drive and the Cardinals eventually scored before the half. On that same drive, there was a 12 yard completion that was ruled a catch and was reviewed. It looked to me and many others that the tip of the ball nicked the ground upon completion of the catch. Once again, Ed Hochuli and the NFL did not overturn the call.

D. On a third quarter field goal drive by the Cardinals, on a 3rd/7 from the Washington 21, the Cardinals had a stack rub formation to Carson Palmer's left and the Redskins countered with an overload of the right side of the Cardinals offensive line. EVERYBODY that has played and covered football knows that with an overload blitz, your going to your hot read and that's exactly what the veteran Palmer did. The problem was the Redskins had Brandon Meriweather and Bashaud Breeland playing off the line on the play side at about a depth of six yards for exactly this scenario. Read it, see it and stop it. Drawn up perfectly. Yet for some ungodly reason, both Meriweather and Breeland back up when they know a quick throw is coming and get rubbed out on the play. The Cardinals got a first down. To me, this was a classic case of players doing something on their own for whatever reason they had and it cost the Redskins.

E. Later in the game, Meriweather and Kerrigan came up with back to back tremendous plays on 2nd down and then 3rd/1 to force a long Arizona field goal. Time and time again, Washington's defense held Arizona to a somewhat lengthy field goal attempt or nothing.

They allowed a field goal off a turnover and the Cardinals scored their final seven points on an interception return for a touchdown. Seven points directly, ten points overall off of Redskins offensive turnovers. The difference in the game.

F. The fact that Jim Haslett's crew played as hard and as well in many areas as it did, should be commended and not condemned. YES, they need to be better and force turnovers and get sacks, but they also need help. A lot of it. They need some guys to come back AND they can't constantly be forced to defend 60-65 % of the field instead of 80-85 % of the field. It would also help if the Redskins offense did not allow a time of possession edge of 34:19 to 25:41 and a 2nd half edge of 19:12 to 10:48. You can not win like this.

OUT:  My sense after talking to numerous sources throughout the organization over the last week is that the disconnect between players and what the coaches are teaching and preaching is getting wider by the week. That's not to say that the players are not listening. I'm sure they are. There's a difference between listening and then processing and following that up by applying. This is on all three phases of the ball and I can tell the frustration is growing by the coaching staff in a lot of ways. Trust me, there is only so much a coach can do. They are in some ways exasperated by certain players and things that keep happening. You can emphasize and drill home, but at some point it is up to players to play the game at a high level of efficiency. Even young ones. The most galling example are when multi-year veterans simply refuse to get it. I won't name any names, but there are MANY big names on the list.

Chris Russell - -

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