Big plays lacking during skid

Big plays lacking during skid
November 11, 2011, 8:16 pm
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As we look back at it, the Week 1 win over the New York Giants really has become the Halcyon day for the Redskins offense.

Twenty-eight points. Hasnt been matched since.

Eight plays of 20 or more yards. Ditto.

Four touchdowns. No chance.

One turnover. Season low.

As the Redskins season has come apart at the seams, plenty is to blame, from injuries and facing better teams to sub-par performances from the fill-ins and slow starts.

Through the first half of the season, the Redskins have scored a measly 12 offensive touchdowns and their average of 15.9 points ranks 27th in the NFL.

At issue for offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Co. is creating more big plays.

Its really important, he said. Big plays are always something Ive believed in, always think Ive gotten. Weve struggled to get a lot this year. Its tough to put 12-play drives together. If you get a big play, it can change the game.

There hasnt been a lot of game-changing positive plays for the Redskins during their current four-game losing streak.

Following the eight plays of at least 20 yards against the Giants, the Redskins had six (including two of 30-plus yards) against Arizona and three apiece in the Dallas and St. Louis games for a four-game total of 24.

In the last four games, not so much. The Redskins have only nine big plays, including zero against San Francisco. The offenses longest gain was a 17-yard pass to Roy Helu that was initially deflected at the line of scrimmage. (See full chart below).

Both Mike and Kyle Shanahan defended the short passes by saying San Francisco played soft coverage

The defense has got to give them to you, first of all, Kyle said. You do everything you can to generate big plays. Last week was a week where they werent going to give us those. I think we had one opportunity to get by the safety and we didnt take it. Big plays arent automatic. Its tough to complete it when you go downfield anyways.

No big plays means plenty of third down chances and a smaller margin for error considering the drives are so long.

The shortest touchdown drive was four plays (against St. Louis) and happened after a turnover in Rams territory. But six of the touchdown drives this year have lasted 10 or more plays.

Additionally, the Redskins have only 13 first-quarter points and are still without an opening-drive touchdown.

The by-products of the slow starts and lack of big plays is: 1. Falling behind. 2. Having to give up on the run game to get back in the game. 3. The defense is on the field a long time and gets tired. 4. There is no balance on offense so Kyle Shanahan cant set up plays as well. 5. And the Redskins lose.

Tight end Fred Davis has also been neutralized in the first half of games and wants that to change against the Dolphins.

Its very important, he said of scoring early. That would be the best thing for us and best for the defense to give them a little leverage and put them in a good situation instead of just always putting the pressure on them to make plays for us.

REDSKINS BIG PLAYS
A look at the Redskins plays of at least 20 yards through the first half of the season:

NY Giants (8)
39: Grossman pass to Gaffney
28: Grossman pass to Davis
25: Grossman pass to Davis
23: Grossman pass to Davis
22: Grossman pass to Moss
22: Hightower run
22: Grossman pass to Davis
22: Grossman pass to Davis

Arizona (6)
40: Grossman pass to Davis
33: Grossman pass to Helu
23: Grossman pass to Davis
22: Grossman pass to Gaffney
20: Hightower run
20: Grossman pass to Gaffney

Dallas (3)
36: Grossman pass to Moss
23: Grossman pass to Davis
21: Grossman pass to Moss

St. Louis (3)
39: Torain run
20: Grossman pass to Gaffney
20: Torain run (TD)

Philadelphia (4)
45: Grossman pass to Gaffney
32: Beck pass to Austin
31: Grossman pass to Grossman
23: Beck pass to Moss

Carolina (5)
32: Beck pass to Gaffney
24: Beck pass to Armstrong (includes penalty)
24: Beck pass to Paulsen
24: Beck pass to Paulsen
22: Beck pass to Davis

Buffalo (2)
24: Beck pass to Davis
23: Beck pass to Hankerson

San Francisco (0)

Contact OHalloran at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com

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