It became a familiar refrain in 2013: The Redskins offense would move the ball only to stall out on key third downs inside the opposition's 50-yard line. Stalled drives meant less touchdowns, less points, less wins. So how does new coach Jay Gruden fix it in 2014?
One place to look is converting more third down plays. Quarterback Robert Griffin III presents a unique problem for defenses because of his ability to run out of the pocket, generally requiring an opposing linebacker to spy the QB. In turn, a running back out of the backfield should be able to get open along the flank or just behind the defensive line, taking advantage of the gap created by the spying LB.
But for Washington, running back Alfred Morris has not shown yet to be the best pass catcher out of the backfield. Roy Helu has that skill, but is a less effective runner than Morris. Tight end Jordan Reed can find openings in the defense, and could prove to be a huge asset on third downs if he can stay healthy.
Last season, Pierre Garçon came through on many plays for first downs, but he also drew the focus of defensive game plans. With DeSean Jackson on board, maybe Garçon sees more opportunities. For his part, Jackson is more of a home run threat than a possession WR built for a 3rd and 8 situation.
If the Redskins want to win more this fall, they need more success on finishing drives. Who will step up on third downs? Vote in our poll and let us know what you think in the comments.