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Snap Judgments: Week 8 Redskins @ Cowboys - OFFENSE

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Looking beyond the box score to see how the Redskins utilized their offensive players in Week 8

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Tom Pennington

On the night of December 30th, 2012, the Redskins won their seventh straight game and their first division title in 13 years, by beating the Dallas Cowboys in the final game of the NFL regular season.  It seemed like all the years of agony and defeat that we endured as fans of the Redskins were ending and that our loyalty to this team was finally paying off.  That feeling lasted for just one week.  Robert Griffin tore his ACL and LCL in the following week's wild card round loss to the Seahawks, and things have not been the same since.  In fact, the Redskins have gone through one of the darkest periods in franchise history since.

The 2012 finale marked the last time that the Redskins had beaten the Cowboys (0-2 since), won a division game (0-8 since), won a primetime game (0-7 since) and won back-to-back games.  They also lost a franchise record 9 straight road games.

That all changed when the Redskins faced off against the Dallas Cowboys this past Monday.  Washington snapped every one of the aforementioned losing streaks and the Cowboys six game winning streak en route to a 20 to 17 overtime victory in AT&T stadium.

I'm not saying that this win was a panacea for all the Redskins' troubles (it's not), that the team doesn't have any more problems (they have a lot of them) and that they are now playoff bound (they're not); but I am hopeful that this could be a sign that things are changing and that Jay Gruden has started to figure it all out.  If so, then maybe, just maybe, he can lead the Redskins to a successful second half of this 2014 season and eventually back to the glory that this team and their fans tasted ever so briefly in the last days of the 2012 season.

***Data Disclaimer: This is my own count after watching the game tape.  Snap data for kneel-down snaps and plays negated by pre-snap penalties are not included.***

The Offense ran 66 snaps

  • 36 Passing Snaps (55%) and 30 Rushing Snaps (45%)
  • That is the lowest number of passing snaps and the second lowest percentage of passing snaps on the season.  Conversely, the 30 rushing snaps and 45% of rushing snaps are both the second highest numbers of the season, behind only the Jacksonville game.
  • Washington held the lead for 15 snaps (23%) and trailed for 16 snaps (24%).  They were tied for a season-high 35 offensive snaps (53%).
  • The Redskins scored on 4 of their 11 drives (36% scoring rate, 1.82 points per drive and 6 plays per drive).  The tenth drive of the game consisted of one kneel-down play to end regulation.  The offense both turned the ball over and went three-and-out on one occasion.  The single three-and-out is tied for lowest number of such drives in a game this year. 
  • Washington's average starting field position was at approximately their own 27-yard line (26.91 to be exact).  That's quite the improvement on their 32nd ranked average starting position of their own 23.8.
  • For the second week in a row, Jay Gruden went with a more balanced approach and stuck with the run.  He dialed up runs on 10 of the 24 first-half snaps (42%) and on half of the 42 second-half and overtime snaps (21 snaps/50%).
  • The offense was responsible for five of the team's six accepted penalties (83%).  The six total penalties, five accepted penalties and 40 penalty yards called against the offense are all season-highs.  Two of the six flags were for delay of game.  I'm not aware of many reliable sources that track penalties, but according to these two sites, Washington's five delay of game penalties this year are tied for the most in the NFL. 

Team Snap Data:

Quarter Number of Snaps (%)
1st 28 (42%)
2nd 13 (20%)
3rd 18 (27%)
4th 16 (24%)
OT 8 (12%)
Down Number of Snaps (%)
1st 28 (42%)
2nd 22 (33%)
3rd 15 (23%)
4th 1 (2%)
Field Position Number of Snaps (%)
Redskins Side 33 (50%)
Cowboys Side 31 (47%)
Midfield 2 (3%)
At or Inside Own 20 11 (17%)
Red Zone 4 (6%)
Goal-to-Go 4 (6%)
Formation Number of Snaps (%)
Under Center 27 (41%)
Total Shotgun 39 (59%)
Shotgun 29 (44%)
Pistol 10 (15%)
Play Design Number of Snaps (%)
Regular Pass 24 (36%)
Regular Run 20 (30%)
Play Action 11 (17%)
Zone-Read Run 6 (9%)
Screen 2 (3%)
Naked Bootleg Run 1 (2%)
QB Draw 1 (2%)
RB Draw 1 (2%)
  • A season-high 25% of the offense's snaps came on third and fourth down combined.  Luckily, the Redskins converted 47% of the time in those situations, which is their second highest mark this season.  In case you were wondering, their 42.86% third-down conversion rate (6 for 14) in this game was also their second best third-down success rate in 2014.
  • More good field position news: A season-low 33 offensive snaps (50%) took place on Redskins' side of the field.
  • It was like 2012 all over again, as Washington called 11 play-action passes (17%) and 6 zone-read runs (9%).  All of those numbers represent season highs.  Colt McCoy kept the ball on the first zone-read run and handed it off to the running back on the next five such runs.       

Personnel Groupings:

Personnel Number of Snaps (%)
11 (1 RB/1 TE/3 WR) 46 (70%)
12 (1 RB/2 TE/2 WR) 6 (9%)
21 (2 RB/1 TE/ 2 WR) 10 (15%)
22 (2 RB/ 2 TE/ 1 WR) 4 (6%)
  • Both of the Redskin's touchdowns came courtesy of the 11 personnel.  This marks the fourth week in a row that every touchdown has been scored from the 11.
  • Approximately sixty percent of the offensive snaps and touchdowns in 2014 have come with the 11 personnel on the field.
  • The usage of the 12 personnel grouping has been steadily decreasing since Week 3.  It was used on 21% (48 of 226) of the offensive snaps in the first three weeks of the season, and it has only been used on 11% of the snaps since (32 of 298).

Individual Player Snaps:

Name (* – denotes starter) Position Snaps Snap %
Trent Williams * LT 66 100%
Shawn Lauvao * LG 66 100%
Kory Lichtensteiger * C 66 100%
Chris Chester * RG 66 100%
Tom Compton * RT 66 100%
Colt McCoy * QB 66 100%
DeSean Jackson WR 61 92%
Pierre Garcon WR 60 91%
Andre Roberts WR 49 74%
Niles Paul * TE 37 56%
Alfred Morris * RB 35 53%
Roy Helu RB 30 45%
Jordan Reed TE 26 39%
Darrel Young * FB 14 21%
Logan Paulsen * TE 13 20%
Ryan Grant * WR 2 3%
Santana Moss WR 2 3%
Silas Redd RB 1 2%
Josh LeRibeus G 0 0%
Morgan Moses T 0 0%
Kirk Cousins QB 0 0%
  • There were 21 active offensive players in this game.  All of them except Josh LeRibeus, Morgan Moses and Kirk Cousins recorded an offensive snap.  Tyler Polumbus, Robert Griffin, Aldrick Robinson and Spencer Long were declared inactive.  This was the first game in which Tyler Polumbus was declared inactive and did not record a snap.
  • This was only the second time this year that all five offensive linemen that started the game played on every snap.  The last time it happened was all the way back in Week 1 against the Texans.  Since that game, the starting linemen have combined to miss an average of 14.5 snaps per game.  Although, to be fair, some of this was by design (e.g. Polumbus' benching last week).
  • Ryan Grant and Santana Moss each recorded two snaps against the Cowboys.  The four combined snaps for the fourth and fifth receiver is a season-low.  Basically, if you weren't a major contributor, then you weren't going to get much playing time in this one.
  • Speaking of Ryan Grant, his two snaps ties last week's season-low.  In his last six games, Grant has only averaged 4.83 snaps a game and has not been targeted once.  The 2014 rookie class of receivers have started their careers at an historically good pace, so I'm a little disappointed that we chose to improve at this position primarily through free agency instead of the draft.
  • In this week's episode of the Fred and Roy Show, Alfred Morris out-snapped backfield mate, Roy Helu, 35 to 30.  Seventy percent of Helu's snaps came on passing plays (21 of 30).  Morris was the lead back on 79% of the first-down snaps (22 of 28).  Once again Helu monopolized the third-down work, with 100% of the snaps on the money down (15 of 15).  Morris was in at running back on 83% of the 12 personnel snaps (5 of 6), 100% of the 21 personnel snaps (10 of 10) and 75% of the 22 personnel snaps (3 of 4).
  • Niles Paul surprisingly out-paced Jordan Reed in the snap department by a count of 37 to 26. Jordan Reed was essentially used as the "passing tight end" in the same way that Roy Helu is being utilized as the primary "passing/ third-down back".  Eighty-one percent of Reed's snaps were on passing plays (21 of 26).  The same number and percentage of his snaps came when the team was in a shotgun formation.  Reed was also on the field for all 15 of the offense's third-down snaps.  In fact, he was the only Redskins tight end in this game that recorded a third-down snap.  Niles Paul and Reed split the 11 personnel work at 57/43 rate in favor of Paul, and they both played on all six of the team's 12 personnel snaps.  Reed lined up in the slot or split out wide on over a third of his snaps (35%).  (Updated/added on 10/29/14 at 9:41 p.m.)

Team Records, Streaks & Rankings:

Team

  • The Redskins have won six of their last seven overtime games.
  • This was only the Redskins fifth win in Dallas in the last 23 years.  The Monday Night Football series between the two teams is now tied at 8-8.  They are also tied in overtime contests at 2-2.  The Redskins all-time record in Dallas is 15-36-2.
  • Colt McCoy's game-tying, fourth quarter rushing touchdown was one of the biggest plays in Monday's game.  The Redskins are known as a team that runs with their quarterback, because of the occasional presence of Robert Griffin, so it might surprise you to know that this was the team's first rushing touchdown by a quarterback since 2012 and in the last 24 games.  This was yet another streak that began after the 2012 finale against the Cowboys, when Robert Griffin rushed for a touchdown in that game to help lead the Redskins to a division title.
  • The 2014 Cowboys are known for playing keep-away by running the clock out in order to keep their stealthily sub-par defense off of the field.  They rank second in the NFL in time of possession and sixth and in offensive plays run.  The Redskins gave them a taste of their own medicine in this game.  The 38:12 time of possession and the 62 offensive plays run against the Cowboys were the first and second most respectively by any Dallas opponent this season.

Individual Players

  • DeSean Jackson is the Monday Night Football thriller.  Since 2008, when Jackson entered the league he ranks 11th in receptions (39), 4th in receiving touchdowns (5), 3rd in yards from scrimmage (960), 2nd in receiving yards (876) and first in yards per reception (22.46) on Monday night.  It's not just because he's played his fair share of Monday night games either (10), as his per game rankings are virtually identical to his raw total rankings (minimum of 10 receptions and 150 scrimmage yards required for these rankings). 
  • Alfred Morris' run of 29 yards and Roy Helu's run of 18 yards were the longest rushes of the season for both players.
  • Colt McCoy's lone interception came on an end-zone throw to Andre Roberts.  A team-high four interceptions have come on targets to Roberts this year.  According to Pro Football Focus, that is tied for fourth worst in the league.  The 47.4 QB rating on throws to Roberts is the fourth worst in the league among wide receivers with 25% or more their team's targets.    

Colt McCoy

  • You may have heard the following stats before, but they are good enough to bear repeating.  Colt McCoy's 83.3% completion percentage against the Cowboys is the highest by any player to throw 30 or more passes in franchise history.  Over the course of the last two games, McCoy has completed 36 of his 42 attempts for 427 yards and 10.17 yards per attempt.  McCoy's 107 QB rating, 85.71 completion percentage and 10.17 yards per attempt rank 5th, 1st and 1st respectively in 2014 among all players with at least 11 pass attempts.
  • I'll preface these finals numbers, by acknowledging that they are ridiculous primarily because of the sample size.  I didn't even mean to look them up, but I searched from 1920 instead of 2014 by accident.  I also need to make it clear that full statistics are not available for every game in NFL history, so there is a more than fair chance that the following rankings are slightly off.  So here goes: according to Pro Football Reference, Colt's McCoy's current 85.71% completion percentage this year is the best in a single season by any player with at least 40 pass attempts in NFL history.  His 107 QB rating and 10.17 yards per attempt currently rank 46th and 19th respectively all time. 
  • Let me reiterate that these numbers are based on an outrageously low sample size.  There is no question that they are unsustainable and that they will regress towards McCoy's career means (59.9%, 77.1 and 6.5 Y/A) and that of the average NFL quarterback if he continues to play this season.  I also want to clarify that I fully support Robert Griffin returning as the starting quarterback of this team and expect him to regain that role sometime in the very, very, very near future.  We should not entirely discount McCoy's numbers though, but rather we should appreciate them and what he has done for this team, in a measured and realistic way.

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