Chicago Bears vs Washington Redskins Preview: Inside the Numbers

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Oct 13, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) throws in the pocket against the Dallas Cowboys

The Washington offense has yet to take off this year, but, again, it’s hard to stick to the game plan when the defense cannot keep the opponent from scoring. Washington utilized zone-read and read-option concepts last year to paralyze opposing defenses. This year, they have been forced to throw the ball far more than anticipated due to substantial score differentials. High volume passing might be RG3’s game someday, but for now, he lacks the accuracy to thrive in such a scheme. He currently sits at 18th (83.27) in PFF’s custom QB Rating that takes into account drops, throwaways, spikes, and the work a receiver does after the catch. Last year, Griffin ranked third on the same list with a (99.37) grade, behind just Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers. The discrepancy can be resolved by Washington Head Coach Mike Shanahan’s change in game plan. Last year, Griffin dropped back to pass 466 times in 15 regular season games (26.2 times per game). This year, however, he has already dropped back 232 times in just five games (41.8 times per game). That’s nearly 15 more throws per game, for those scoring at home. The uptick in throws has emerged as a necessity given game situations, but that seems to be a lot to ask of a quarterback in just his second season who, oh by the way, suffered a near-critical injury in last year’s playoffs. As previously stated, Griffin does not fit in a high volume passing offense. He has been victimized by 17 receiver drops, but only 48.7% of his passing yardage has come through the air (sixth lowest in NFL), indicating a lot of short and intermediate throws. Both Griffin and Alfred Morris (3.6 run grade, 4th best)  remain formidable ground options, they cannot play to their strengths when their team has to consistently chase 10+ points.

The Bears should win this matchup fairly handily if they can score early (a recurring theme in this column). The Bears defense remains a huge liability (-41.9), but if they can force RG3 & Co. to play from behind all game, favorable scenarios will take root. The 7th best Bears passing attack (19.6) possesses a decided advantage over the sieve-like Washington pass defense. Washington’s only real chance to take down the Bears will have to come from the turnover department. Bears fans must not forget that Washington CB DeAngelo Hall picked Cutler off four (!) times in a 2010 contest. Let’s hope Coach Trestman stressed the importance of decision-making in meetings this week.

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