Poor field position hurt the Redskins this year

Poor field position hurt the Redskins this year
December 27, 2013, 11:45 am
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Here are a couple of stats that I found on Football Outsiders that help paint a pretty clear picture of just how much the Redskins have struggled this season.

One is what they call the net line of scrimmage per drive. That is the difference between where your offense started its drives on average and where your defense took the field. This measures who is winning the battle for field position and takes into account the performance of offense (if they don’t score, do they at least improve field position?), defense (can they get three and outs consistently?), and special teams (can the punt and kickoff teams pin them deep?).

Through Week 15, the best team in the NFL here is Kansas City. The Chiefs’ average field position when they took the field on offense was 10.6 yards better than when their defense lined up. The Redskins were the worst. Their net line of scrimmage was -7.7. So the Chiefs are a whopping 18.3 yards better off than the Redskins every time they take the field.

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You don’t have to look much further than this to figure out why Kansas City is 20th in yards gained but 6th in points scored while Washington is 9th in years but 22nd on points. When you have further to go to get to the goal line, as the Redskins do, you can rack up yards but still have trouble scoring points.

The other eye opening number from FO was the average lead that the Redskins had when they started a drive. As one might guess, it’s a negative number. They trailed by an average 7.8 points when they started a drive. That’s also the worst in the NFL, a full point worse than Jacksonville (-6.8). It’s difficult to run your offense when you are facing essentially a two-score deficit when you take possession of the ball.

Just like the field position, the deficits are a product of the whole team. The offense struggled out of the gate, the defense hasn’t shut down the other offense and special teams have given up scores and returns that led to easy TD’s.

[Related: 3 and out: Sunday's score will be a secondary story line]