By Tarik El-Bashir
After five games, the Redskins rank dead last in the NFL in third down conversion rate.
They converted only one of nine third downs in Sunday’s 24-17 loss to the undefeated Falcons, dropping the team’s success rate to 23.3 percent (14 for 60) as Redskins’ record slipped to 2-3. Over the past two weeks, in fact, Washington is just 3 for 20 on third downs.
“We missed a third down and one, third down and two, third down and three,” Coach Mike Shanahan said Monday, rattling off the missed opportunities. “Obviously, it’s an area where we have to get better at. We were also 0 for 2 in the red zone, an area where we had been good. So you take the combination of being 1 for 9 on third downs and 0 for 2 in the red zone, it’s really hard to win a football game.”
Fullback Darrel Young added: “We got to start making plays. Third downs have been our” shortcoming.
The Redskins had the second-worst conversion rate in 2010 before jumping to 15th last season. Now they’re scuffling again.
“We’ve been putting ourselves in better situations on first and second downs,” Young said. “But we have to get over that hump. That’s what we need to win games.”
In addition to hurting the team’s point production, it has an adverse affect on the defense, as Young pointed out.
“But  snaps is entirely too much for any defense," Young said, referring to the number of plays Atlanta ran on offense. "We have to take at least 15 to 20 snaps away just to help them. It’s on the offense.”
“It’s important,” Young added. “I can’t say we have to take more pride, because guys are serious about what we’re doing on third down. It’s just we’re not executing.”