The good people at Pro Football Focus spend enormous amounts of time breaking down every player’s performance on every individual play throughout the season. In the end, players can then be given a final rating somewhere between zero (poor) and 100 (elite). If you want to learn more about their methodology, you can read PFF’s Player Grade overview.
Here’s a portion of what you will read if you click on that link:
On every play, a PFF analyst will grade each player on a scale of -2 to +2 according to what he did on the play.
At one end of the scale you have a catastrophic game-ending interception or pick-six from a quarterback, and at the other a perfect deep bomb into a tight window in a critical game situation, with the middle of that scale being 0-graded, or ‘expected’ plays that are neither positive nor negative.
Each game is also graded by a second PFF analyst independent of the first, and those grades are compared by a third, Senior Analyst, who rules on any differences between the two. These grades are verified by the Pro Coach Network, a group of former and current NFL coaches with over 700 combined years of NFL coaching experience, to get them as accurate as they can be.
From there, the grades are normalized to better account for game situation; this ranges from where a player lined up to the dropback depth of the quarterback or the length of time he had the ball in his hand and everything in between. They are finally converted to a 0-100 scale and appear in our Player Grades tool.
Season-level grades aren’t simply an average of every game-grade a player compiles over a season, but rather factor in the duration at which a player performed at that level. Achieving a grade of 90.0 in a game once is impressive, doing it 16 times in a row is more impressive.
No player evaluation system is perfect; in the sport of football, quantifiable evaluations are extremely difficult. PFF follows a methodology that may be flawed, but can also provide a starting point for player comparisons. Players are graded by the same criteria which enables them to be given a rating for their specific position. Based on free, public data available at Pro Football Focus here are the 2019 final ratings for the Washington Redskins key offensive contributors.
Based on PFF’s ratings, here are some of the key takeaways from a 2019 Redskins offense that finished ranked dead last in total points scored, with 266 points (16.6 ppg).
At QB, no one really shined for the Redskins in 2019, but Dwayne Haskins’ story was, in a sense, a tale of two seasons. His two worst outings came in his first two NFL appearances, both in relief, in Weeks 4 & 8 versus the Giants and Vikings. His two best grades of the season came in Weeks 13 & 16 as the starter versus the Panthers and Giants. Haskins’ progress during his rookie season offers a reason for fans to potentially feel optimistic about the future, though new head coach Ron Rivera seems determined to challenge the quarterback right out of the gate.
At RB, Derrius Guice earned an impressive 76 rating from PFF, but the most critical number isn’t his grade for what he produced on the field, but the 95 offensive snaps that represent the total number of plays that the young running back has been healthy enough to line up on offense in his short 2-year career. Adrian Peterson’s 403 snaps made him the workhorse in the Redskins backfield for the second year in a row. The 2021 season is likely to prove decisive for Guice’s career; it will be important for him to stay healthy. If he can, the combination of Guice, Bryce Love and Adrian Peterson could be a three-headed monster that the Redskins can rely on to help fuel the offense.
FB Michael Burton was signed after Jay Gruden was sacked. Bill Callahan made only limited use of Burton, but he played competently. It will be interesting to see how incoming offensive coordinator Scott Turner feels about fullbacks, as Adrian Peterson has a long history of running most effectively when he has a lead blocker like Burton.
Turning to WR, there’s no surprise. Terry McLaurin is the highest graded receiver on the team; in fact, he is, by far, the highest graded offensive player on the team. Washington scored 18 receiving TDs, and 28 overall. Scary Terry scored 7 of them. Steven Sims was the second-most productive TD scorer on the team, with 5 offensive scores (4 receiving, 1 rushing) and a return TD. Kelvin Harmon actually had more offensive snaps and total receiving yards than Sims did, achieving almost all of his production in the second half of the season. The three 2019 rookies provide a great young corps around which to build in 2020 and beyond.
TE was a strange story for the Redskins in 2019, with Jordan Reed lost to a dirty hit in the pre-season that triggered a concussion that sent him to IR, not to return. His backup, Vernon Davis, was lost to a concussion in Week 4, having registered just 10 receptions for the year. The team turned to Jeremy Sprinkle, who looked very much like a third-string tight end, with a number of dropped passes. Sprinkle was the lowest-graded player on the league’s worst scoring offense. Hale Hentges was picked up off waivers from the Colts early in the season and played pretty well. Like Haskins and Harmon, the rookie from Alabama got better as the season progressed, earning 5 of his 6 best PFF grades between Weeks 13 and 17 when he played between 21 and 32 snaps per game. He caught 6 of his 8 pass receptions in the final two games of the year, and looked promising enough to possibly supplant Sprinkle on the 2020 roster.
The five OL starters earned fairly similar grades except for Brandon Scherff, who, with a PFF grade of 75 was the only lineman with a grade above 70. The former 5th overall draft pick was in the walk year of his contract, and, unless the Redskins use the franchise tag or agree a long-term deal with him in the coming weeks, Scherff will become a free agent on 18 March. Rookie 4th round draft pick, Wes Martin, did not impress in limited action. With little or no visible progress from Martin and fellow rookie guard Ross Pierschbacher in 2019, Scherff and Flowers both set to become free agents, and veteran LT Trent Williams’ status very much in question, the OL unit, along with the TE group, looks to be the biggest question mark on the team heading into the off-season. The way the new coaching staff and re-tooled front office deal with the offensive line this off-season should tell us a great deal about them.
With Dwayne Haskins’ relative inexperience, a receiving corps likely to be comprised primarily of second-year players, injury concerns at RB and TE, and question marks at 3 of 5 OL positions, the Redskins, who have a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator, and front office in flux, are likely to enter the 2020 season as one of the biggest offensive mysteries in the league. Following on from the league-worst 2019 offensive production, I imagine that very little will be expected of this young group of players led by a new group of coaches.
The off-season, at least, should be interesting.