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Q&A with Football Outsiders on the Redskins' 2012 Season Outlook

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<a href="" target="new">Football Outsiders Almanac 2012</a>
Football Outsiders Almanac 2012

The 2012 Football Outsiders Almanac is out, which means SB Nation gets a brief Q&A session with the author of that section. In the Redskins case, it's FO's creator, Aaron Schatz. The Redskins chapter is always a fascinating read with some incredible stats, including DVOA percentages for every personnel set on both sides of the ball. The first stat I always race to see, however, is the win totals, which they have at 6.8. Vegas has the Redskins at 6.5....hmm. To name a few other stats:

  • Washington quarterbacks combined for 79 quarterback hits (not including sacks); no other offense was above 70.
  • The Redskins defense had the biggest difference between DVOA with significant pass pressure and DVOA without. They brought pressure on 24.7 percent of pass plays, a little above the league average, but had -127.6% DVOA (first in the NFL) with 2.5 yards per play on these plays, compared to 44.0% DVOA (tied for 26th) with 8.1 yards per play otherwise.
  • Since 1993, 17 teams have gotten at least eight starts from a rookie quarterback chosen in the first dozen picks. On average, those teams have seen their offensive DVOA ratings improve by 6.5%.
Now, to the Q & A. It's always hard for me to come up with good questions since the Redskins always have such a huge roster turnover year in and year out. How can anyone make predictions? In Shanahan's now third year, the safeties, QB, and WRs are all new. So it goes. I kept it simple.

HH: The Redskins lost 6 games last year by 7 or fewer points. With Washington having one of the worst turnover ratios in the NFL last year (-14) led by Grossman's 20 INTs and 6 fumbles, is it crazy for Redskins fans to think that having a QB that will turn the ball over less can result in 2-3 more wins right there alone by protecting the ball better? All of the solid rookie QBs last year (Dalton, Cam, etc) were in that 14 INT range.

Schatz: Three wins may be a bit much, but yes, I think that Redskins fans can expect a better turnover ratio next year. There will be fewer interceptions, and the Redskins also had poor fumble recovery luck in 2011. They recovered only 7 of 18 fumbles on offense, and only 7 of 21 on defense.

HH: When the details of the RGIII trade came out, I was initially against it given the number of high draft picks included and the # of holes throughout the roster we could use with those picks. Since that time, looking at the Super Bowl winners for the last 10 years, you can't win without a Pro-Bowl QB. If the Redskins didn't make this trade, I just don't see any future for this franchise. Another year of Rex? Use the #6 pick on Tannehill or perhaps a top Cornerback and trade up for Barkley next year? Do you see an alternate plan (from a GM standpoint) the Skins could have done at QB since CLE offered just as much?

Schatz: No, I'm sympathetic to that line of thinking. It is the most important position on the field. They were in a tough spot. They either give up a ton of draft value to move up, or grope around trying to find a diamond in the rough. They could have maybe signed Matt Flynn, who ended up going to Seattle at a fairly reasonable cost. They could have waited a year and tried to see if they were in position to take Barkley or Landry Jones or whoever else is going to be considered a top quarterback eight months from now. They also could have tried to find a guy who dropped to the second round. Drew Brees was a second-rounder, remember. Matt Schaub was a third-rounder, and while he's not going to carry a team on his back, he's a guy who could definitely win a Super Bowl with a good defense. Joe Flacco was a late first-rounder. However, it's hard to think of a time when there were two prospects as promising as Luck and Griffin, so, like I said, I'm sympathetic to that line of thinking.

Knowing that they gave up so much draft value, though, they are going to have to be a lot smarter in what they do with the young talent they are able to bring in from later rounds.

Center Will Montgomery has been a highly debated player among Skins fans the last month. The perception is he seems to be OK in pass blocking but horrid in run blocking...never seeing the second level and getting pushed back post-snap. What's your analysis on him last season and for this season. I see that the OLine was ranked middle of the pack.

Schatz: Nothing really stood out to me personally. I asked fellow FO staffer Andy Benoit about him, because Andy does more scouting than me, and he felt Montgomery was a limited player but a guy who can do what the Redskins generally ask him to do. He does get beaten by bull rushes sometimes, but it seems to lead to hurries more than sacks.