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Snap Judgments: Week 17- Cowboys @ Redskins- OFFENSE

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

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

This past Wednesday, team President and General Manager Bruce Allen gave what is essentially a state of the union (or franchise) address for the Washington Redskins.  In this, the final edition of Snap Judgments for the 2014 season, I will give a statistical state of the franchise.

Advanced Metrics

With the help of some advanced metrics and the all-important point differential statistic we'll do our best to determine how the last two years stack up in franchise history.  The row at the bottom of the following table lists the number of years that each stati has been available for the team.  The rankings for each of these metrics pertains to the teams' overall ratings and to where the teams ranked at the end of the season.  For further explanation on these advanced stats visit the following links: DVOA, simple rating system (SRS), Elo and PFF ratings.

2013 & 2014 Advanced Metrics DVOA SRS Elo PFF Point Diff
2014 Franchise Rank 2nd Worst 6th Worst Worst Worst 4th Worst
2013 Franchise Rank Worst 4th Worst unavailable 3rd Worst 5th Worst
Franchise Rank Out of XX Years 26 65 45 8 83

As you can see, each metric has 2013 and 2014 as two of the six worst seasons in franchise history.  Half of the rankings place 2013 and 2014 among the three worst seasons in the history.  However, only one of them covers all 83 years of the Redskins, so it would be wise for us to take a wider view of the team's history.


In the 32 game span stretching from the beginning of the 2013 season to the end of 2014, the Redskins have just a meager .219 winning percentage.  There are 1,123 spans of 32 games in Redskins' history and this current one is tied for the 18th lowest winning percentage in franchise history.  Fifteen of the seventeen worse stretches took place from October of 1961 to October of 1962.  In their last 24 games, the Redskins have an even worse winning percentage of .138.  It is the 15th such worse span in franchise history, and all 14 of the worse spans took place from October of 1961 to September of 1962.  It basically took the Cuban missile crisis to scare the Redskins out of being so horrible.

Weekly spans are nice, but since different seasons had different numbers of games it makes it hard to say that a given year or sets of years/seasons were better than or worse than another when we look at it that way.  So, let's look at some spans based the team's seasons and not their individual games/weeks.  In the last five years the Redskins have put up a winning percentage of just .350, a number which is propped up by the team's 10-6 campaign.  That is tied with one other season for the sixth worst in team history.  All five of the worse stretches included the aforementioned 1961 season.

Looking at just the last two years doesn't do the Redskins any good.  The team's winning percentage in that time frame of .219 is tied for third worst with one other span.  Only the 1959-1960 and 1960-1961 spans had lower winning percentages.  If you haven't picked up on the themes yet, then here they are: 1) this is likely the second worst time ever in Redskins history; and 2) things are getting worse instead of better.

Comparisons to Other Sports

The Redskins winning percentages of .350 in last five years and .219 in the last two years rank fifth and second worst respectively in the NFL in that time frame.  A few weeks ago I decided that this didn't fully encapsulate the futility of this franchise, and I compared the team's winning percentage to the other 121 major professional sports franchises in the country.  Here is an updated table which looks at both the last two and five years.

All Major Professional U.S. Sports 2013-2014 2010-2014
Redskins Winning % .219 .350
Redskins Rank of 122 118 114
Ranking Percentile 4.1% 7.4%

The team's winning percentage is lower than the winning percentages of more than 95% and 92% of the major professional sports teams in the country in the last two and five years respectively.  I took things yet another step further by adding all of the Division I college football and basketball teams in the country to the mix.  This brings boosts our total number of teams from 122 to over 600.

All Major U.S. Sports 2013-2014 2010-2014
Redskins Winning % .219 .350
Redskins Rank of 601 571 520
Ranking Percentile 5.2% 13.6%

The 2013-2014 only slightly improves when you the 400-plus college teams.  The five year rankings got a nice bump, but being worse than 84% of all those teams is nothing to be proud of; especially when you consider that the vast majority of the 81 teams below them are mid-major college teams.  If only the power five conferences were included, then they would be in the bottom five percent yet again.

State of the Franchise

By almost any measure this is one of the worst times ever to be a Washington Redskins fan.  Some of the most widely used advanced metrics place each of the last two years among the worst ever for the team, you cannot find worse extended spans of losing in the team's history without including the 1960 or 1961 seasons and over the course of the last several years the Redskins have one of the worst winnings percentages among all professional and college sports teams in the country.

My fellow Redskins fans, the state of the franchise is NOT strong.  This is, by my estimation, the second worst period in the team's history and things are only getting worse as time goes on.  Something must stem the tide of the organizational ineptitude that has plagued this team for over 15 years or this once storied franchise will only continue to crumble.

Hail to the Redskins.

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

The Offense ran 69 snaps

  • 45 Passing Snaps (65%) and 24 Rushing Snaps (35%)
  • The offense ran a total of 1,048 snaps in the 2014 season.  Of those 1,048, 62% of them were passing plays (648) and 38% (400) of them were rushing plays.  Other sites track these numbers a little bit differently than I do (minus plays negated by penalties and plus kneel-downs), they have Washington ranked 19th in rushing percentage at 39.9%.
  • The Cowboys lead the game for all 69 of the Redskins' offensive snaps.  This marks the seventh time this season that the Redskins' offense was not on the field for a single snap in which the team held the lead.  It is the second time this year (Seattle) that the team has not either been tied or held the lead for a single offensive snap.
  • Gruden called for passes on 52% (12 of 23) of the first half plays and increased that rate to 72% in the second half (33 of 46).  This is certainly one game in which he probably can't be faulted for passing it too much, as Washington allowed the second and fifth most points in the first quarter and the first half respectively by a Redskins team since 1999.
  • Both good and bad things came in threes in this game.  The Redskins scored TD, FG, TD), went three-and-out and turned the ball over (interception, fumble, fumble) three times each in this game.  Their other four drives either ended with a punt or time expiring.
  • The offense accounted for four of the Redskin's nine accepted penalties (41 of 101 yards).  Trent Williams and Pierre Garcon were called for unnecessary-roughness personal fouls, and tight ends Jordan Reed and Logan Paulsen were flagged for holding and false start respectively.  Both the Redskins and their opponents committed penalties at a historic rate in 2014.  At least the team's lack of discipline rubbed off on someone else.

Penalties Penalties Penalty Yards Opp Penalties Opp Penalty Yards
2014 Value 120 1,130 144 1,164
2014 NFL Rank 27th 31st 1st 2nd
Franchise Rank 3rd Worst Worst 1st 1st
All-Time NFL Rank 130th Worst 33rd Worst 3rd 10th

Team Snap Data

Quarter Number of Snaps (%)
1st 9 (13%)
2nd 14 (20%)
3rd 23 (33%)
4th 23 (33%)
Down Number of Snaps (%)
1st 30 (43%)
2nd 23 (33%)
3rd 14 (20%)
4th 2 (3%)
Field Position Number of Snaps (%)
Redskins Side 33 (48%)
Enemy Side 36 (52%)
At or Inside Own 20 11 (16%)
Red Zone 14 (20%)
Goal-to-Go 2 (3%)
Formation Number of Snaps (%)
Under Center 13 (19%)
Total Shotgun 56 (81%)
Shotgun 45 (65%)
Pistol 11 (16%)
Play Type Number of Snaps (%)
Regular Pass 27 (39%)
Play-Action Pass 10 (14%)
Screen 10 (14%)
Zone-Read Run 9 (13%)
HB Pitch/Toss 5 (7%)
Regular Hand-off 5 (7%)
QB Scramble (double counted) 3 (4%)
Draw 2 (3%)
Zone-Read PA 1 (1%)
  • The Redskins employed shotgun formations on 56 snaps in this game, second most for the team this season.  A season-high 45 snaps were taken from the standard shotgun formation (non-pistol).
  • The offense utilized the screen pass on a season-most 10 snaps (14%).  Of the Redskin's 309 total yards passing yards, 174 of them came courtesy of the screen (56%).
  • The running back pitch made something of a comeback, as it was used on 5 snaps against the Cowboys.  The offense had only run two pitch plays in previous three games combined.

Personnel Groupings

Personnel Number of Snaps (%)
11 (1 RB/1 TE/3 WR) 56 (81%)
12 (1 RB/2 TE/2 WR) 6 (9%)
21 (2 RB/1 TE/ 2 WR) 6 (9%)
22 (2 RB/ 2 TE/ 1 WR) 1 (1%)
  • The two touchdowns were scored from the 12 and the 21 personnel groupings.
  • That's somewhat surprising, considering that the Redskins utilized the 11 personnel on a season high 81% of the snaps (56 snaps).
  • Washington took 62% of their snaps from the 11 in 2014.  The only other personnel grouping that was used more than 15% this year was the 12 (16%).
  • Four or more receiver sets were used on less than 2% of the snaps and "heavy" groupings (with one or fewer wide receivers) were employed on less than 20% of the snaps.

Individual Player Snaps

Name (* - denotes starter) Position Snaps Snap %
Shawn Lauvao * LG 69 100%
Kory Lichtensteiger * C 69 100%
Robert Griffin III * QB 69 100%
Chris Chester * RG 66 96%
Tom Compton * RT 58 84%
Trent Williams * LT 49 71%
DeSean Jackson * WR 46 67%
Andre Roberts WR 46 67%
Pierre Garcon * WR 44 64%
Roy Helu HB 40 58%
Niles Paul TE 34 49%
Jordan Reed TE 30 43%
Santana Moss WR 30 43%
Alfred Morris * HB 29 42%
Ryan Grant WR 26 38%
Tyler Polumbus RT 20 29%
Logan Paulsen * TE/T 15 22%
Spencer Long G/T 11 16%
Darrel Young * FB 7 10%
Silas Redd HB 0 0%
Kirk Cousins QB 0 0%
Rishaw Johnson G Inactive N/A
Josh LeRibeus G Inactive N/A
Chris Thompson HB Inactive N/A
Leonard Hankerson WR Inactive N/A
  • Spencer Long played a season-most 11 snaps in this game.  He filled in at both guard and tackle.  Unfortunately, this accounted for nearly 70% of his 2014 snap total, as he only got on the field for 16 snaps (1.5%) this year.  Hopefully, we get a chance to see more of him 2015.
  • The game got out of hand early, and that means that the Redskins would be passing and that Roy Helu would get a featured role in the offense.  Helu recorded a 2014-high 40 snaps (58%), and as a result Alfred Morris was on the field for a season-low 42% of the snaps.  Morris did, however, get 83% of the 12 and 21 personnel snaps.  Helu was the lead-back on 93% of the third-down plays and took the same percentage of his snaps from the 11 personnel.
  • Pierre Garcon was in on a season-worst 64% of the snaps, while Ryan Grant picked up the slack and handled 38% of the snaps, his second most in 2014.
  • Chris Chester missed his first snaps of the season in this game (three snaps) and was overtaken by Kory Lichtensteiger for the 2014 lead.  Here are the two players with the most snaps for each position group: Robert Griffin (455), Kirk Cousins (355), Kory Lichtensteiger (1,046), Chris Chester (1,045), Pierre Garcon (874), DeSean Jackson (755),  Niles Paul (556), Logan Paulsen (382), Alfred Morris (582), Roy Helu (325) and Darrel Young (204).

Records and Rankings


  • DeSean Jackson's league-leading 20.9 yards per reception average helped him to finish 13th in receiving yards this year (1,169) despite ranking 58th in targets with 95 of them.  In fact, Jackson's 95 targets are the fewest by any receiver with 1,000 or more yards since targets started being tracked in 1998.  You might want to throw it to this guy more, Jay.
  • DeSean Jackson was great in 2014; Andre Roberts, not so much.  Roberts' targets, receptions, receptions per game, receiving yards and yards per game numbers were the second worst in his career, behind only his rookie year.  He also set a career-high in drop percentage and his seven drops were his second most in a season.  Roberts drop rate of 16.28% was the 5th highest in the league this year among receivers who received 25% or more of their team's targets.
  • We're going to alternate from good to bad here and look at another one of the few bright spots on the offense: Roy Helu.  Helu set or matched career highs in yards per attempt (5.4), reception yards (477), reception yards per game (34.1), yards per reception (11.4), reception touchdowns (2) and yards per route run (2.2).  He ranked in the top six among all 2014 running backs in reception yards (4th), yards per reception (6th), receiving yards per game (5th), yards per route run (2nd) and catch percentage (1st).  It's too bad that this was likely Helu's last year with the Redskins.  The team will be hard-pressed to find a replacement for one of the best receiving running backs in the NFL.
  • After hearing that just 6.5% of Robert Griffin's Week 17 passing yards came before the catch (as opposed to YAC), I decided to take a closer look and see how his 2014 season ranked in both PFF's aDOT (average depth of target) and yards in air percentage metrics.  Keep in mind that the following data only dates back to 2007 and only includes quarterbacks that have taken 25% of the snaps or dropbacks for their team.  Griffin's average depth of target in 2014 was just 7.0 yards, the second lowest in the league.  That mark ties him for the eight lowest ever recorded by PFF.  Here are the players that have had lower averages: Alex Smith, Christian Ponder, Sam Bradford, Kyle Boller and Jason Campbell. 
  • An absolutely pathetic 34.4% of Robert Griffin's passing yards in 2014 came before the catch.  That is the lowest number ever recorded by PFF.  The only player to ever come within  seven percent of that rate is Kyle Boller, with 38% in 2009.  The next closest players are: Christian Ponder, Jon Kitna, Matt Hasselbeck and Jason Campbell.
  • Not only does Griffin not air it out, he doesn't throw the ball away either and takes sacks at an insanely high rate.  He was sacked on 13.4% of his dropbacks this year, a number which would rank him third worst in 2014 among all players with at least 10 attempts and one start and second worst ever among all Redskin quarterbacks to ever attempt at least 60 passes in a season.  In fact, Griffin's sack percentage is the 18th highest ever by any quarterback that was sacked at least 33 times in a season.  If you compare him to just the 100 most sacked seasons by an individual player, his sack percentage would be the 9th worst on the list.  If 2014 is any indication, it's clear that Robert Griffin either has little to no confidence as a passer or understanding of how to be a NFL quarterback.


  • Here is how the team as a whole ranks when it comes to taking sacks.  Spoiler alert - it's not good (did I use that right?).
Sacked Sacks Sack/G Sack % Sack Yards Sk Yards/G
Current Value 58 3.63 9.6% 414 25.9
2014 NFL Rank 31st 31st 30th 31st 31st
Franchise Rank 2nd Worst 5th Worst 9th Worst 3rd Worst 8th Worst
  • The 2014 Washington Redskins scored just 24 points off of turnovers and did not record a single touchdown all year in these situations.  The offense was actually so generous that they turned the ball right back over 21% of the time that they recorded a takeaway.  The 24 points off turnovers are the second fewest by any team in 2014 and the fifth fewest by any team in the last 20 years.
  • The offense was only able to convert red-zone opportunities in touchdowns 47.92% of the time, their second worst red-zone TD percentage in the last 12 years.  This team really did not know how to take advantage of any of their opportunities.
  • Washington led the NFL in both the number of plays of 40 or more yards and 50 or more yards, thanks in no small part to DeSean Jackson who led all individual players in both categories.  The twelve 50-yard plays were the most by a Redskins team since 1998, and the twenty 40-yard plays were the team's most since 1991.  These are likely also franchise records, but the data is not available prior to the aforementioned years to prove it.
  • The Redskins' 31.5% third-down conversion rate (30th in 2014) is the team's second lowest such rate in the last 24 years (data no available prior).  Their conversion rate of 7.6% on third-down plays with 10 or more yards to go is the third worst by any team in the last 10 years (since 2005) and the sixth worst by any team in the last 17 years (since 1998).
  • Unfortunately, they were not very good in short yardage situations either.  On third and fourth down plays with just one to three yards to go the team had a conversion rate of 48.4%, which ranked them 30th in the league.  Perhaps if they ran more they would have fared better in them.  They only rushed on 34% (22 of 64) of the time in these situations, despite averaging over three yards per attempt when they did run it in these spots.  Alfred Morris, for instance, got just six carries in these situations despite averaging 3.5 yards per carry in them and 4.1 yards per carry on the season.

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