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Statistical analysis: Redskins' defensive woes

Statistical analysis

It's no secret that the Redskins' defense hasn't played as well this season as it has in recent years. Using the concept of Expected Points (introduced here), we can say the defense has accounted for a net disadvantage of 25 points so far in 2010, well below league average. The pass defense is the primary culprit, accounting for the vast majority of those points.

What may be more troubling is the consistency with which the defense is losing battles. A statistic known as Success Rate can measure how often a team "wins" a play. If the result of a play improves an offense's chances of scoring, such as a 5-yard gain on first down or a conversion on third down, that's a success, or a "win," for the offense. But if a defense is able to force an incomplete pass, stop a run for a short gain or make any play that decreases the chance their opponent will score, that's a success for the defense. Success Rate removes a lot of the luck and random noise of freakish big plays or marginal calls by officials to measure how consistently (good or bad) a team performs from play to play.

The Redskins' defensive Success Rate is 52 percent, ranked 27th in the league. The best defenses top 60 percent. Unfortunately for coordinator Jim Haslett, Success Rate is relatively consistent throughout a season, so it's unlikely the Redskins' defense will dramatically improve.

On the other hand, it's possible that the transition to the 3-4 scheme has been the problem, and if so, the defense may improve as the players become more comfortable with their roles. I think the transition to the 3-4 was probably a wise move because 3-4 defenses have performed slightly but measurably better than 4-3 defenses over the recent decade, even accounting for individual team strength.

The 3-4 is a complex defensive scheme, and in a way, "3-4" is really a misnomer. It's usually shorthand for a "multiple-front" defense played with a base personnel package of three linemen and four linebackers. Now that Haslett has three games of film to analyze, he's going to need to figure out what his squad isn't doing well, and adjust.

Brian Burke is a former Navy pilot who has given up his F/A-18 for the less dangerous hobby of football analysis. He is the creator of Advanced NFL Stats, a Web site about football, statistics and game theory.

By Brian Burke  | September 29, 2010; 11:44 AM ET
Categories:  3-4 defense, Statistical analysis  
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Next: Donovan McNabb considers "11 great years" in Philly

Comments

Oh good...more offseason posts...how about something on our FIRST road division matchup, RI???

Posted by: brownwood26 | September 29, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

So, you saw all of it, and you think Bayless is just making up stuff as he goes along?
Trying to earn his paycheck...
whether he is accurate or not is irrelevant?


Posted by: RedskinRay1 | September 29, 2010 11:40 AM


Skip's schtick is shock value...pontificate and yell your point and every once in awhile say something controversial. I give him props for getting his fair share of things right, but I call bullsh*t on him here because CP is never shy about running his mouth, and he should know that. I mean, think about it...if he were REALLY upset about AH, he'd have said something dumb on the radio by now. A player taking a dive at the end of a 27-yard run with 5 defenders around him is about as far from making a statement as you can get.

That said, I don't buy his excuse about the wrist wholesale...may have factored into his thinking, but if he couldn't secure a football in that hand he shouldn't have been playing. It was a quirky play but to read it as mutiny is at best a ridiculous reach...

Posted by: brownwood26 | September 29, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Flounder21-
McNabb throws the ball away more than Vick when he's being hit...

"So , Redskins fans, stop the hating.."
-DEVO2

Yeah, right..:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11q4hUuZLRU

Posted by: frak | September 29, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Toughest upcoming contract re-up in all sports?

pick'em

Donovan McNabb

Peyton Manning

Derek Jeter

Mariano Riviera

Moe rolls with paying Mo and Peyton what they want.

D Jeter will get paid, even though, well, you know, he's not who he used to be.

And as for D Mac, the lack of a ring means he may have a price that won't get met.

Perhaps, well, the skins should try to figure out a way to move him (AZ/Minny/San Fran?), and re-coup their lost pick?

Posted by: MistaMoe | September 29, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

If it's a legit release and not the "54 man trick", this could be a good pickup for us...dude played for Shanahan in Denver:


Ravens cut Trevor Pryce, but he could be returning
Posted by Mike Florio on September 29, 2010 10:15 AM ET
The Baltimore Ravens have dumped veteran defensive lineman Trevor Pryce.

Pryce, a 14-year veteran, appeared in each of the team's first three games. He joined the Ravens in 2006 after being cut by the Broncos, and Pryce started 16 games in his first year with the Ravens. He also started 16 games in 2008, and he appeared in all 16 games in 2009.

Per a league source, the Ravens made the move in order to create a roster spot for safety Ken Hamlin, who was cut earlier this month. Pryce could return to the team as soon as next week.

Because the move comes on a Wednesday, Pryce already will receive his game check for Week Four. Also, he'll be entitled to take the balance of his $2 million salary, if he so chooses. Pryce could even sign with a new team and take his termination pay from the Ravens, if he so chooses.

If the Ravens are indeed playing the 54-man roster trick by dumping Pryce and signing Hamlin, they apparently wanted to get Hamlin on board so that he could prepare for possible duty against the Steelers.

Posted by: brownwood26 | September 29, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Not THIS guy again......Has McNabb talk ended??

I see him being here for the duration of his carreer. Where ever he goes, he will have to learn a new offensive system. He will be 34/35 next year....He's getting to old to start over. I see him playing until 37/38...

So just give a 3 year gaureenteed contract with a team option for a 4th year in the $16Mil range and call it a day.....

Posted by: 4thFloor | September 29, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Man we suck. 6 wins, tops.

Posted by: dmorgan6617 | September 29, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Sign him, period, it'll shut the chatter, how do we defend against Vick (aside from Landry-spy)??

Posted by: frak | September 29, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

And why hasn't anyone hammered Shanny/BA for their terrible draft this year.

WORST THAN VINNIE'S FAMOUS 2008 DRAFT....

Go look it up.....

Posted by: 4thFloor | September 29, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I tried to pay my bar bill with a Doug Dutch last night...nearly got my ass kicked.

Posted by: PlayAction | September 29, 2010 11:45 AM
-------------------------------------------
Well, when the Greek economy tanked, the "Doug Dutch" really fell against the dollar. A lot of day traders, sitting on a lot of Doug Dutches, had their hats handed to them and I don't see the Doug Dutch rebounding any time soon. If you are looking at playing the currency exchange, I recommend investing in Justin Tryons.

Posted by: RedSkinHead | September 29, 2010 11:59 AM

Thanks RSH...I should have double checked the exchange rates before the shots starting flowing...good thing I had a sack full of Campbell Pennies back in that car.

Posted by: PlayAction | September 29, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Doug Dutch = NERD bagging groceries

Posted by: monk811 | September 29, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

coming any moment, ZEKE'S UNIQUE PERSPECTIVES -- and it actually dovetails with these comments a bit.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | September 29, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I say f@ck Barbara W. yes I want to splatter on her face.

Marry Oprah (and change my name to Richie Cunningham) I will need the money to pay for lawyers at murder trial

mjy perfect Defense: Carter, Hayneworth and Daniels up front.Zo, Mcintosh, Fletch and Po at the LB
my perfect Offense: single back two tight ends. are they running? are they passing? you never know.
oh that white stuff oozin down Barbaras back? it's just 10-6

Posted by: nflorida1 | September 29, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

And why hasn't anyone hammered Shanny/BA for their terrible draft this year.

Posted by: 4thFloor | September 29, 2010 12:10 PM


Because the ink isn't even dry on their rookie contracts yet.

Grading a draft 3 games into the season...UFB...

Posted by: brownwood26 | September 29, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Brian Burke = KING of the NERDS!!!

Posted by: monk811 | September 29, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

And as for D Mac, the lack of a ring means he may have a price that won't get met.

Perhaps, well, the skins should try to figure out a way to move him (AZ/Minny/San Fran?), and re-coup their lost pick?

Posted by: MistaMoe | September 29, 2010 12:01 PM

I agree Moe. I think there will be a great opportunity for a sign and trade for McNabb and get something back in return, especially from AZ or MN.

Posted by: mhartz1 | September 29, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

ZEKE’S UNIQUE PERSPECTIVES brought to you by the great people at Yahoo!

I WAS looking forward to writing a forward-looking column about the Skins vs philly and glossing over a W over the Rams. But an L to the Rams can’t be glossed over.

Statistically, the game was even. Turnovers, penalties and kick returns were even. They blocked a punt, we blocked a FG. On yds/pass attempt and yds/carry, we did better. Torain had a 36yd run, Portis a 27yd run, McNabb a 26yd run. Moss had a 56 yard catch. 4 plays of over 25 yards – but none led to a TD.

Big plays and averages may look good, but the Rams ran 25 more plays than we did because they made the modest plays. The Rams had only 2 plays over 20 yards, yet scored 6 times. Until the game’s final (and meaningless) drive, the Skins had only 1 play in the 2nd half that gained between 4 and 10. During the game, prior to the final drive, the Rams had 17 of these modest plays, the Skins just 9. We had 3 big runs, 13 other runs netted 2 yds/carry.

In the offseason, Skins mgmt had a plan and made 3 key decisions. #1: win now with veterans. #2: a 3-4 defense. #3: deal with Albert on our terms. Team Prez M. Shanahan made the calls and gave HC M. Shanahan the responsibility to make it work.

We followed the plan.

We got older. Veteran teams make fewer mistakes, play with poise and find ways to win.

We installed a 3-4 defense to confuse the QBs and force lots of mistakes.

We confronted Albert, to make an example of what happens when you cross MS.

None of that worked on Sunday.

It was argued that McNabb would be the veteran difference maker, the guy that does the 3 things you pay a premium QB to do: 3rd down, 4th quarter and red zone. The Skins only TD came from outside the red zone. Inside the red zone, we netted 3 FGs. Third down? 1 for 10. Fourth quarter, ZERO.

The big play 3-4 defense? It has created QB pressure, but it’s also been full of holes, and those holes showed up in a major way. A QB with 2 NFL games under his belt was able to pick through it more than adequately.

The 3rd issue, the confrontation with Albert, could have been managed in many different ways and who knows if any of them would have gotten a better result. What is clear is that the league most dominant D lineman in 2008 has little impact – or trade value -- in 2010.

A veteran team with a clutch leader, a defense forcing mistakes led by a DL beast? Hardly. We’ve been outscored 22-3 in the 4th quarter (and OT) and 46-13 after halftime.

Win now, use the 3-4, confront Albert. Each decision is defendable. Each played major roles in the losses vs the Texans and StL. Under different circumstances, the coach and the team president might find themselves at each other’s throats. That won’t happen here. But if things don’t change soon, it will be obvious who the finger will be pointed at.

And that is a wrap on this week’s ZEKE’S UNIQUE PERSPECTIVES brought to you by the fine people at Yahoo!

Posted by: zcezcest1 | September 29, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I tried to pay my bar bill with a Doug Dutch last night...nearly got my ass kicked.

Posted by: PlayAction | September 29, 2010 11:45 AM
-------------------------------------------
Well, when the Greek economy tanked, the "Doug Dutch" really fell against the dollar. A lot of day traders, sitting on a lot of Doug Dutches, had their hats handed to them and I don't see the Doug Dutch rebounding any time soon. If you are looking at playing the currency exchange, I recommend investing in Justin Tryons.

Posted by: RedSkinHead | September 29, 2010 11:59 AM

Thanks RSH...I should have double checked the exchange rates before the shots starting flowing...good thing I had a sack full of Campbell Pennies back in that car.

Posted by: PlayAction | September 29, 2010 12:13 PM
------------------------------------------
I know why they are pennies and not nickels: he's not worth a plugged nickel.

Posted by: RedSkinHead | September 29, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Anyone thought about sending Haynesworth to the Browns? I figure, if he's gonna play like sh*t and have a sh*tty attitude, he might as well play on the team whose color is the color of sh*t. This flush is for you Fat Al....
BAWOOSH!!!.......

Posted by: monk811 | September 29, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

AH is the only guy on our D that actually gets double teamed by the opponents. Might want to figure out who fills that role before getting rid of him.

Posted by: Stu27 | September 29, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

"And as for D Mac, the lack of a ring means he may have a price that won't get met.

Perhaps, well, the skins should try to figure out a way to move him (AZ/Minny/San Fran?), and re-coup their lost pick?

Posted by: MistaMoe | September 29, 2010 12:01 PM

I agree Moe. I think there will be a great opportunity for a sign and trade for McNabb and get something back in return, especially from AZ or MN.

Posted by: mhartz1 "

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, boy, I'll tell ya..Mcnabb is PROVEN, draft picks are a die roll, get it straight..And Bruce Allen hasn't PROVEN anything yet..

Posted by: frak | September 29, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Contract re-ups?

You forgot Carl Crawford Rays LF
Look for him to leave for the bigger $

Sure hope he doesn't become a traitor and go to Yankees

Posted by: RedskinRay1 | September 29, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Brian Burke = KING of the NERDS!!!

Posted by: monk811 | September 29, 2010 12:16 PM

No idea what the dork is talking about this week monk.

Posted by: PlayAction | September 29, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

beagles beeps

Posted by: RomoLongballs | September 29, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

And why hasn't anyone hammered Shanny/BA for their terrible draft this year.

WORST THAN VINNIE'S FAMOUS 2008 DRAFT....

Go look it up.....

Posted by: 4thFloor

You are right. Silverback will be a very good player but that is it.

Shanny has never been the best personnel guy especially on the defensive end.

Posted by: dcwun | September 29, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

The skins should bring in either Trevor Pryce or Adalius Thomas. They are both experienced veterans who are extremely well versed in the scheme we run. Thomas especially would be a huge upgrade over carter and would allow him to focus his attention to rushing on passing downs. Pryce could teach albert golston and carriker a few things about the 3-4. God knows we have the money and its not as if we are developing young players who are starting at those positions

Posted by: DaFunBunch | September 29, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

The people of St. Petersburg don't deserve to see a talent the likes of Carl Crawford. They won't even go to the g-d games. Pathetic!

They should either a) Build a stadium in Tampa (where they play now is NOT suited for baseball) or b) move out of Florida altogether. It seems that they just aren't interested in baseball in Florida.

Just wish the Nats were relevant. I believe as desperate as this region is for a winner, a real winner, if the Nats were contending the park would be sold out damn near every game.

-------------------------------------------------------

brown, seeing how TWill and Riley are the only draft picks on the 53 roster, I'd say this draft is worse than the '08 draft. Kelly, Thomas, Davis, Moore and Horton are all still on the 53 roster.

Although after this season Moore may be the last man standing...

Posted by: RedDMV | September 29, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

And why hasn't anyone hammered Shanny/BA for their terrible draft this year.

WORST THAN VINNIE'S FAMOUS 2008 DRAFT....

Go look it up.....

Posted by: 4thFloor

You are right. Silverback will be a very good player but that is it.

Shanny has never been the best personnel guy especially on the defensive end.

Posted by: dcwun | September 29, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse


The only top draft pick we had last year was a first rounder. You can't judge someone on picks 4-7 rounds. Those picks are just chances at finding a gem. Most 4-7 rounders are gone within a couple of years and don't materialize into nothing.

I think to accurately judge a draft, you have to hit on your 1-3 rounders. You can probably compare Bill Poilian's picks from rounds 4-7 and say he is not a good talent evaluator. You have to hit on anyone you take rounds 1-3. I think it almost more luck to hit on a 4-7 rounder than it is skill. I think Vinny missed on two second rounders (Thomas and Kelly) and third rounder (Rheinhart). That's when a GM is determined to not be a good talent evaluator.

Posted by: redskinbo | September 29, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

So what you are saying is that our defense stinks.

Posted by: jmy999 | September 29, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Shanahan is renowned for fielding great offenses and frustrating defenses. Its his choice of DC and system that is usually the culprit. He has a huge ego.

Posted by: periculum | September 29, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Brian, which version of the F/A-18 did you fly?

Posted by: nuzuw | September 29, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

The 3-4 defense is, for the Redskins, absolutely WORTHLESS!

The personnel, with the exception of Orakpo (aka ErraticPo) are 4-3 guys & are out of their element.

Instead of trying to be trendy & going to the 3-4, the Skins should have saved their cash, stuck with the 4-3 & got what they really needed- 2 decent CBs.

Rogers can’t cover or catch. Hall can’t cover or tackle.

You can’t play the 3-4 effectively without 2 shutdown CBs & a NT. If you don’t believe me, look at the Patriots' decline into mediocrity over the last few years.

The 3-4 is an excuse not to find & develop defensive line talent. Teams put 1 fat guy at NT, 2 medium weight linemen at DEs, & hope that the NT can force a double team & the unblocked LB makes the tackle.

Kemoeatu tries hard at NT, but his body is shot, due to the injuries, & he can be effectively blocked one on one.

After the other NFL teams saw the films of the Dallas game, they knew that the Skins DBs were vulnerable & everyone will throw on them first, & run second.

What we have seen so far this season will be repeated every Sunday.

Anyone who thought Shanahan & Allen were the saviors was sadly mistaken.

Had the Skins stuck with the 4-3, they could have realized some of their investment in Haynesworth. He appears to have actually shown up in better shape than usual for training camp. However, Shanahan is attempting to force a round peg into a square hole, & wasting a fortune. Albert is a 4-3 DT & will NEVER be a NT. It’s not in either his mindset or in his DNA.

Although I have little use for & less patience with Albert’s antics, I have to side with him on not wanting to play NT in the 3-4. I took enough snaps there during practice when I played in college to know that NT is a dog’s life.

In conclusion, folks, the 3-4 means 3 or 4 (total) victories this season for the Skins. The Skins opponents are drooling with anticipation for an opportunity to throw on the Skins.

I wonder who will be the next head coach.?

Posted by: FormerBullisBulldog | September 29, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

We need to play four solid quarters and not worry about someone cheering or booing for you. Donovan will set the tone for this game. The pressure will be on him whether he wants it or not. The other 52 players really need to play to our true capabilities. I can accept some illegal procedures with some of the backup players that is understandable but we need to intercept balls when they are in our hands, tackle better and do whatever you can to contain Michael Vick. I do not want to see DeSean Jackson be by himself at all this game. There is no excuse playing zone or man to man someone need to be on him the entire game.

Posted by: fmy0013 | September 30, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

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