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Snap Judgments: Week 17- Cowboys @ Redskins- DEFENSE

Looking beyond the box score to see how the Redskins utilized their defensive players in Week 17

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Redskins played a league-high 36 players on defense this year.  The average team only fielded about 29 players in 2014, and only 12 other teams played 30 or more players throughout the year.  This really speaks to both the inordinate number of major injuries that were suffered by Washington defenders and to the team's lack of seemingly any quality depth.

Some may give Jim Haslett a break because of this and the lack of talent that he has to work with (I'm looking at you, Jay Gruden and Chris Russell), but even those that do cannot provide a reasonable explanation as to why the numbers that Haslett's defenses have produced are so staggeringly horrible.  When you look at the statistics Haslett's failure is simply undeniable.  We'll start by looking at the rankings in several major categories and advanced metrics for every NFL defense that Haslett has been in charge of.  For further information on these advanced metrics visit the following links: DVOA, Defensive Simple Rating System (DSRS), Expected Points Added (EPA) and PFF team defensive rating.

Team - Position - Year Points Allowed Points/Drive Total Yards Yards/Play Def DVOA DSRS EPA PFF Total D
Saints - DC - 1996 20th N/A 13th 9th 19th 20th N/A N/A
Steelers - DC - 1997 11th N/A 6th 7th 2nd 7th N/A N/A
Steelers - DC - 1998 7th 2nd 12th 13th 11th 10th N/A N/A
Steelers - DC - 1999 12th 10th 11th 18th 15th 17th 16th N/A
Saints - HC - 2000 10th 12th 8th 12th 13th 10th 12th N/A
Saints - HC - 2001 27th 29th 16th 24th 23rd 28th 22nd N/A
Saints - HC - 2002 26th 23rd 27th 26th 19th 28th 18th N/A
Saints - HC - 2003 14th 15th 18th 22nd 22nd 19th 17th N/A
Saints - HC - 2004 28th 23rd 32nd 29th 27th 27th 27th N/A
Saints - HC - 2005 28th 26th 14th 24th 26th 28th 27th N/A
Rams - DC - 2006 28th 26th 23rd 31st 30th 31st 30th N/A
Rams - DC - 2007 31st 29th 21st 24th 26th 32nd 28th 19th
Rams - DC/HC - 2008 31st 28th 28th 31st 30th 31st 30th 27th
Redskins - DC - 2010 22nd 16th 31st 30th 26th 19th 24th 26th
Redskins - DC - 2011 21st 24th 13th 17th 14th 16th 20th 20th
Redskins - DC - 2012 22nd 26th 28th 26th 17th 19th 20th 29th
Redskins - DC - 2013 31st 26th 18th 27th 21st 30th 24th 30th
Redskins - DC - 2014 29th 28th 20th 27th 27th 28th 30th 32nd
Average Rank 22nd 21st 19th 23rd 20th 22nd 23rd 26th

So as you can see Haslett's teams do not rank higher than 19th on average in any of these major defensive categories.  Another way that you could look at this is by counting how many times his defenses ranked in the top or bottom ten of a category.  I'll save you the trouble of doing the counting and just tell you that out of these 128 rankings that his defenses ranked in the top ten just 10 times and the in the bottom ten a whopping 67 times.  Maybe you only care about how he has done as the Redskins' defensive coordinator though.  The NFL is a "what have you done for me lately" business anyways.  Here is how Haslett's five Redskins defenses stack up in franchise history.

Defensive Franchise Ranks Points Allowed Point Diff. Total Yards Pass Yards Comp % Pass TD Takeaways INT
2014 2nd Worst 5th Worst 5th Worst 4th Worst Worst 2nd Worst 4th Worst 2nd Worst
2013 Worst 4th Worst 7th Worst 5th Worst 22nd Worst 8th Worst 12th Worst 15th Worst
2012 8th Worst 23rd 2nd Worst Worst 2nd Worst 6th Worst 28th Worst 27th
2011 15th Worst 15th Worst 10th Worst 11th Worst 18th Worst 22nd Worst 5th Worst 5th Worst
2010 10th Worst 16th Worst Worst 12th Worst 25th Worst 19th Worst 17th Worst 9th Worst

And now the Advanced Metrics.

Defensive Franchise Ranks DVOA DSRS EPA PFF
2014 6th Worst 11th Worst 2nd Worst Worst
2013 11th Worst 9th Worst 3rd Worst 2nd Worst
2012 12th Worst 25th Worst 4th Worst 4th Worst
2011 13th 29th 6th Worst 6th Worst
2010 10th Worst 31st Worst 7th Worst 3rd Worst

If that wasn't enough for you then check out some of Haslett's ranking low lights as the Redskins defensive boss.  All of the following rankings pertain to all-time NFL rankings since 1940 (all teams).

  • 2014- 61st most points allowed (438), 67th most passing yards allowed (3,974), 22nd highest completion percentage allowed (66.5%), 10th most passing touchdowns allowed (35), 14th fewest interceptions (7), 53rd fewest takeaways (19), 11th lowest PFF grade for total defense, 23rd worst EPA and 145th worst defensive DVOA.
  • 2013- 11th most points allowed (487), 99th most passing yards allowed (3,896), 38th worst completion percentage allowed (65.6%) and 12th lowest PFF grade for total defense
  • 2012- 47th most total yards allowed (6,043), 9th most passing yards allowed (4,511), 45th most passing touchdowns allowed (31)
  • 2010- 24th most total yards allowed (6,226) and 24th most passing yards allowed (4,187)

Perhaps the biggest indictment on Haslett and the best reason for the Redskins to show him the door is the fact that defenses actually improve right after he leaves.

Improvement Post Haslett? Points Allowed Points/Drive Total Yards Yards/Play DVOA DSRS EPA Wins
Saints 1996 to 1997 Yes Unavailable Yes Yes Yes Yes Unavailable Yes
Steelers 1999 to 2000 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Saints 2005 to 2006 Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Rams 2008 to 2009 Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No

You simply cannot win with Haslett.  I'm not sure that he really even knows how to win.  He never has done it consistently at any level, so why would anyone expect him to do otherwise now.

Position Years # Winning Seasons % Winning Seasons Wins Losses Ties Win %
College Player 4 1 25% 20 15 3 .566
Player 8 2 25% 51 72 0 .415
Non-NFL Coach 6 2 33% 27 32 0 .458
NFL LBs 3 2 67% 27 23 0 .540
NFL DC 12 2 17% 67 116 0 .366
NFL HC 6 2 33% 48 62 0 .436
Total NFL Coach 21 6 29% 142 201 0 .414
Total Football (NFL + College) 39 11 28% 240 320 3 .429

Jim Haslett has participated in some form of college or professional football for 39 years and his teams have only had 11 winnings seasons in that time.  His overall winning percentage in those 39 seasons is .414.  Let me give you some advice, Dan.  Give Jim Haslett a wide berth.  He's what's called a born loser.  A real Munson.

If the Redskins know what's good for them they'll dump Jim Haslett and not think twice about it.  The problem is that they don't know what's good for them and there's no sign that they ever will.

Twenty-two years ago Joe Gibbs left the NFL and Jim Haslett returned to it as a coach.  Since then Haslett and the Redskins have shared almost identical winning percentages (.414 and .410).  Maybe that makes them perfect for each other.

64 Snaps were run against the Defense

37 Passing Snaps (58%)

27 Rushing Snaps (42%)

  • The Washington defense allowed the Cowboys offense to score on 7 of their 13 drives (54%) in this game (four touchdowns and three field goals), with five of those scores coming on Dallas' first 5 drives.  Tony Romo threw one drive-ending interception for tradition's sake.
  • The defense was responsible for four of the team's nine penalties (50 yards) in this game.  David Amerson committed a 26-yard pass interference penalty when he was burned yet again, this time by Terrance Williams.  On the very next Dallas drive, E.J. Biggers was flagged for an egregious face mask grab on Cole Beasley (14 yards) and Bashaud Breeland was called for an illegal use of hands infraction (5 yards).  Jackson Jeffcoat was also penalized for illegal use of hands (5 yards) in the fourth quarter.


Down # of Plays Short (1-3 yards) Med (4-6 yards) Long (7+ yards)
1st 28 0 0 28
2nd 21 1 7 13
3rd 12 4 3 5
4th 0 0 0 0
  • The Redskins were only able to force a third down on 43% of Cowboys' offensive sets. 
  • When the defense did manage to push it to a third down, they were only able to hold Dallas to a third-and-long situation 42% of the time (lowest rate in the last six weeks).
  • In spite of that, the Redskins allowed the Cowboys to convert on just 33.3% of their third-down attempts (4 of 12), which was one of their better efforts in this department all year.
  • Unfortunately, it didn't matter much, as Dallas scored four offensive touchdowns on first and second down.

Defensive Snaps

Name (*-denotes starter) Position Snaps Snap %
Ryan Clark * FS 64 100%
Perry Riley * ILB 64 100%
Bashaud Breeland * CB 63 98%
Phillip Thomas * SS 63 98%
David Amerson * CB 62 97%
Ryan Kerrigan * OLB 62 97%
Keenan Robinson * ILB 61 95%
Jackson Jeffcoat * OLB 48 75%
Chris Baker * DE 35 55%
Stephen Bowen * DE 32 50%
Kedric Golston DE 28 44%
Jarvis Jenkins * DE 28 44%
E.J. Biggers CB 26 41%
Gabe Miller OLB 26 41%
Barry Cofield NT 22 34%
Frank Kearse DE 9 14%
Trevardo Williams OLB 5 8%
Justin Rogers CB 3 5%
Will Compton ILB 3 5%
Trenton Robinson FS 0 0%
Ja'Gared Davis ILB 0 0%
Akeem Davis S 0 0%
Steve Beauharnais ILB Inactive N/A
Kenny Okoro CB Inactive N/A
Travian Robertson NT Inactive N/A

  • Ryan Clark's 2,011 snaps (98%) in 2014 led the defense.
  • Ryan Kerrigan came in second with 975 snaps (94%).
  • After recording the first sack of his career last week against the Eagles, Jackson Jeffcoat grabbed the first interception of his career against the Cowboys on Sunday.  That's impressive considering that those were the second and third career games for the 23-yeard old.  He's one of the few newcomers that might be worth keeping around next year.

Special Teams Snaps

Name Position Snaps Snap %
Will Compton ILB 21 66%
Trenton Robinson FS 21 66%
Logan Paulsen TE 19 59%
Akeem Davis S 18 56%
Niles Paul TE 17 53%
Gabe Miller OLB 16 50%
Frank Kearse DE 15 47%
Darrel Young FB 13 41%
Silas Redd HB 13 41%
Andre Roberts WR 13 41%
David Amerson CB 12 38%
Kedric Golston DE 12 38%
Spencer Long G 12 38%
Ja'Gared Davis ILB 12 38%
Trevardo Williams ILB 12 38%
Bashaud Breeland CB 11 34%
Justin Rogers CB 9 28%
Ryan Grant WR 9 28%
E.J. Biggers CB 8 25%
Stephen Bowen DE 8 25%
Barry Cofield DE 8 25%
Jackson Jeffcoat ILB 8 25%
Perry Riley ILB 8 25%
Keenan Robinson ILB 8 25%
Ryan Kerrigan OLB 8 25%
Philip Thomas SS 8 25%
Kai Forbath K 7 22%
Nick Sunberg LS 7 22%
Tress Way P 7 22%
Shawn Lauvao G 3 9%
Chris Chester G 3 9%
Tyler Polumbus T 3 9%
Tom Compton T 2 6%
Kory Lichtensteiger C 1 3%
  • Will Compton and Trenton Robinson led the team in special teams snaps once again.  Outside of five spot starts for Compton, neither player has seen much playing time this year; however, they both consistently found their way onto the game-day roster and the field, thanks largely in part to their work on the special teams units.
  • According to the 2014 Redskins media guide, Tress Way broke the Redskins' single season record for highest net average on punts (40 yards).  His 47.52 yards per punt average led the league in 2014 and ranks him 10th and 40th in franchise and NFL history (minimum of 20 punts) respectively according to PFR.
  • As I've discussed in previous editions of Snap Judgments, special teams production is indicative of the quality of the bottom of a team's roster and thus the team's depth.  I think that it's clear that the Redskins are lacking in this department - due mostly in part to poor roster management by Bruce Allen and company - but I wanted to take a deeper dive into this idea so I pulled together all of the Pro Football Focus (data back to 2007) and Football Outsiders (data back to 1989) special teams rankings to see how the team has fared in this department since Allen took over in 2010.  Here is what I found.
Special Teams Ranks PFF Yearly PFF Franchise PFF All-Time DVOA Yearly DVOA Franchise DVOA All-Time
2014 28th 3rd Worst 24th Worst 29th 4th Worst 67th Worst
2013 32nd 2nd Worst 2nd Worst 32nd Worst 2nd Worst
2012 26th 8th Worst 121st Worst 27th 7th Worst 121st Worst
2011 27th 7th Worst 123rd Worst 21st 13th 296th Worst
2010 16th 6th Worst 110th Worst 25th 10th Worst 211th Worst
Out of XX # of teams 32 8 256 32 26 797

Records and Rankings

  • David Amerson wildly regressed this year and the results were disastrous.  Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the worst cornerback in several major categories; in fact, his 2014 season is one of the worst that they have ever tracked (data dates back to 2007).  For example, Amerson is one of only two players (all position) to allow ten receiving touchdowns dating back to 2007 (the other was Dre Bly in 2007).  I hate to say it, but when you put this all into perspective, it's hard to argue that he isn't trending towards being a bust, if he isn't already one.  See how he ranks below.  Only cornerbacks that were in on 25% of their team's snaps were included.
David Amerson PFF TD Pass Rating
Overall Grade Coverage Grade
2014 Value 10 140.2 -19.7 -15
2014 Rank (of 108 CBs) Worst Worst Worst 6th Worst
All-Time (867 CB seasons) Worst 5th Worst 5th Worst 9th Worst

  • One of the few secondary player seasons to ever be given a lower overall grade by PFF is Ryan Clark's over-the-hill 2014 campaign.  The game charters at Pro Football Focus have only ever credited two players with more missed tackles in a season than the 22 that Clark had in 2014: DeMeco Ryans with 23 in 2007 and Tanard Jackson with 24 in 2011.  Clark was just about as bad this year as London Fletcher was in 2012 and 2013.  The 2014 season was a truly a stop-gap year for Clark.  A stop-gap for the Redskins to find just one competent safety and a stop-gap for Clark to finish his quasi-internship at ESPN.  I don't care how many people like Clark as a person, he needs to be gone.  Now. 
Ryan Clark PFF Overall Grade Run D Grade Missed Tackles
2014 Value -20.2 -12.8 22
2014 Rank (of 88 Safeties) Worst Worst Worst
All-Time (694 Safety seasons) 4th Worst 6th Worst 2nd Worst

  • Keenan Robinson has been one of the few bright spots on the defense and on the team as a whole.  I looked at PFR's top 100 tackle seasons by a Washington Redskin and converted the total tackle numbers for each player into a tackles per game statistic.  This helps to even the playing field for Robinson, as he missed three games in 2014.  Robinson came in at 8 total tackles per game, which was tied for 21st most in a season by a Redskins player.  Only six other players (London Fletcher, Wilber Marshall, Andre Collins, Kurt Gouveia, Brad Edwards and Marvcus Patton) have ever had a higher number for the team, and only two of them did so when they were 25 or younger like Robinson was in 2014.
  • Signing a 32-year old defensive lineman to a fairly lucrative deal is never a good idea, and Jason Hatcher wasn't an exception.  Hatcher was fairly productive when he was able to play, but that wasn't often.  Those of you that are hoping that the soon to be 33-year old makes the money that the team paid for him worthwhile should not hold your breath.  Only 24 players have ever recorded ten or more sacks in a season in which they were 33 or older.  Nine of those players are in the hall of fame.  Only 21 players have ever recorded eight or more sacks in a season in which they were 34 or older.  Again, nine of them are in the hall of fame.  See the trend?  Almost nobody is truly productive this late into their careers unless they are a transcendent talent.  Sorry, but Jason Hatcher does not fit that bill.
  • This isn't the first time that I've discussed the Redskins old and under-performing defensive line.  In March I put out a three-part series (here, here and here) that described how the Redskins had one of the oldest and least productive defensive lines in the league, yet all that anyone can talk about is the offensive line.  I understand that the offensive line is a major area of need, but the defensive line is right there too.  If you don't believe me that check out the table below which lists the six linemen the team will have under contract next year.
Player Age on 9/1/15 2015 Cap Number
Jason Hatcher 33.1 $ 3,750,000
Kedric Golston 32.3 $ 1,245,000
Barry Cofield 31.5 $ 7,677,500
Stephen Bowen 31.4 $ 4,688,750
Chris Baker 27.9 $ 2,000,000
Frank Kearse 26.8 $ 570,000
Total 183 $ 19,931,250
Average 30.5 $ 3,321,875

**Statistics derived from Advanced Football Analytics, ESPN, Football Outsiders, NFL GSIS, Over the Cap, Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference and Team Rankings**

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