The Redskins’ offense needs to gain 336 yards to surpass 6,000 for the season. It would mark the first time in franchise history they would have done so in consecutive seasons.
Keep in mind that of the 15 defenses they have faced thus far, 11 are ranked 20th or worse. They have faced one defense currently in the top 10 (San Francisco at No. 2). And only one other team has a defense in the top half (Sunday’s opponent, the New York Giants, at No. 12).
Against the 49ers and Giants in November, the Redskins gained 190 and 323 yards, respectively. They struggled to throw the ball in either game, with 76 net passing yards against the 49ers, and 184 against the Giants. The problem? Eleven combined sacks. Point is, against good teams they did not operate the same for a variety of reasons. It’s a small sample size, but there was a difference. It’s also why you can’t just point to Kirk Cousins' games and say any numbers are produced by playing bad defenses (and he clearly didn’t light up Dallas last week). They have seen them all season.
The Redskins have had eight games with at least 400 total yards. So they have moved the ball well all season, which is why they are ranked ninth. But the key number: No. 22 in scoring. Their red-zone offense struggled, ranking 16th in the NFL. Robert Griffin III's numbers took a hit here compared to last season. In 2013, Griffin completed 29-of-58 passes in the red zone for 205 yards, 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. He ranked 24th in the NFL in percentage and 27th in passer rating (83.7) inside the 20. Last season he completed 24-of-39 passes for 111 yards, 10 touchdowns, no interceptions and posted a 105.4 passer rating.
In two games, Cousins has completed 5-of-9 passes for 36 yards, two touchdowns and no picks in the red zone. But it’s too small a sample size to draw conclusions about him in this area.
The Redskins rank third in yards per carry in the red zone at 3.47, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
They have had one game where they didn’t turn the ball over -- at Minnesota. There have been six games where they have turned it over only once -- and they are 2-4 in those games. So adding it up, they are 2-5 in games with one or fewer turnovers. Yes, the turnover differential has hurt considerably. They are minus-7 for the season; of the 17 teams with a negative turnover differential, only two have clinched a playoff berth, and three others enter the last weekend with a shot at the postseason. There is a chance none of those other three teams -- San Diego, Pittsburgh and Baltimore -- make the postseason.
The defense has played seven games against offenses currently ranked in the top 10. The only offenses ranked 20th or worse that they have played? Dallas, San Francisco and the Giants. In those four games, the Redskins’ defense allowed an average of 278 yards (helped by a 213-yard game in the first game against Dallas). Against the current top-10 offenses, Washington allowed an average of 440.1 yards per game. For what it’s worth, the Giants are ranked 30th.
The Redskins are ranked 31st in red-zone defense, allowing a touchdown 66.7 percent of the time (38 touchdowns in 57 trips). Yes, they have been put in bad spots because of turnovers and special teams. But they are also just a bad defense in need of more talent.
I get a lot of questions about a 4-3 versus a 3-4, but after four years it’s not about the scheme, it’s about finding the right players period. It’s not as if had the Redskins run a 4-3 this season -- or over the last couple -- the results would have been a lot different. Bad D is bad D.
Like the offense, the scoring stat tells the story. Washington ranks 21st in yards allowed, but 31st in scoring.
Add it all up: 3-12.