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Why Scott Turner’s offense is struggling against top tier teams

While Scott Turner and company have been playing well against the likes of the Giants and Falcons, there has been a noticeable drop-off in efficiency against the upper echelon teams in the NFL. Why is that the case?

Kansas City Chiefs v Washington Football Team Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Scott Turner’s offense has not been good for the majority of games this year. His unit currently ranks 24th in yards and 21st in points. Furthermore, they are coming off of a week in which they produced just 276 yards and 13 points against the Kansas City Chiefs, who had boasted the 32nd ranked defense heading into the Week 6 matchup (now ranked 28th).

The lack of production against the Chiefs rang a bell in my head; how can a defense that bad shut down any offense the way that they did?

Well, first, we need to take a step back and go through all six games that Washington had played to this point, and here’s what you’ll get from a statistical standpoint:

In games played against the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons, Washington’s offense averaged 409.5 yards per game, which would be the sixth-best offense in the NFL. Alternatively, in games played against the Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills, New Orleans Saints, and Kansas City Chiefs, the offense averaged just 299.5 yards per game, which is the fifth-worst offense in the NFL.

There is a very noticeable difference in how efficient the offense is when they begin to play the upper-tier teams in the NFL. So, why is that the case? I spoke with Logan Paulsen to get his take based upon his film review and what he’s taken away from the offense to this point.

“I think that’s a 100 percent accurate statement. I think the core of that question is somewhat interesting “why is that happening?” Paulsen said. “The thing that I noticed is that Taylor Heinicke handles simpler defenses structures a little bit better. The Giants, for example, run a simple structure; they play a cover three. The same thing when you watch the Falcons, there’s a lot of space in the defense, it’s a young defense, a new defensive coordinator, and guys still trying to understand the nuance of the scheme.”

Paulsen then transitioned to the New Orleans Saints defense, where he thought was a good test for Heinicke because they run a simple structure; however, they are much more talented than the Falcons and Giants defensive units. “I think we saw how that all played out, I think that there were some throws there that Taylor was able to make, but overall he looked uncomfortable and unsettled with a better personnel group of the Saints.”

He used these three instances as a measuring stick, how he’s performing against simple, poorly executed defense, but as those defenses get better, his performance diminishes. That is something that you’d expect from a guy in his situation, quite frankly.”

So that is one aspect of why Turner’s offense is struggling to this point. However, Paulsen did clarify that it was not all on Heinicke as to why the offense is struggling. The lack of playmakers and Turner’s inability to utilize what he does have at his disposal also contribute to the poor production offensively.

See below for the conversation between Paulsen and me, and click here for the full defensive film session that we did.

What are your thoughts on Scott Turner and company? What are some of the issues that you’re identifying with his offense?