Defensive end Andre Carter, who wore a Redskins uniform for five years before being released in February in a move that was to both the salary cap and the team’s switch to the 3-4 defense. Carter found himself in a situation where he was scheduled to make a nice veteran starter’s salary on a team that did not have a position for him.
Carter will be returning here with the Patriots on Sunday. New England signed him after the lockout ended and he is having quite a comeback season there. His nine sacks lead the team.
If Carter finishes his career in New England, this likely will be his last visit to FedEx Field. The Patriots are not scheduled to play there again until 2019.
However, he could have been making annual trips to Washington. He very nearly signed with a division rival.
The first team to work him out after the lockout ended was the New York Giants.
“I had a trip to New York,” he said today in a conference call with the Washington media. “Unfortunately, we had to shake hands and part ways. It didn’t work out.”
He then got a call from the Patriots. Carter signed with them a few days later.
I got a question on Twitter from @mdlube7783, who wants to know where the takeaways are:
@Rich_Tandler wasn't 3-4 installed to produce turnovers? Where are they?
The Redskins are tied for worst in the league with a minus-13 turnover ratio. They are suffering on both ends of the equation. They have turned the ball over 28 times this year. Only the Eagles, with 29, have more offensive giveaways. And, to the point of the question, the Redskins have 15 takeaways. Only four NFL teams have fewer.
Last week, I looked at one of the reasons for the Redskins’ paucity of takeaways this year. They aren’t very good at getting the ball when it’s on the ground. Since I posted the article, they did recover the one Jets fumble last Sunday but means that the Redskins have recovered seven of 22 opponents fumbles, a recovery rate of 31 percent. A typical defense recovers about 40 percent of the other teams’ fumbles and it is not unusual to see teams recover half.
While it would be tempting to wonder about the Redskins’ practice habits when it comes to recovering fumbles, this usually boils down to dumb luck, the bounce of the ball. Perhaps Perry Riley’s recovery of the muffed punt last Sunday is a sign that the odds will begin to even out and the Redskins will pounce on more than their share of balls bouncing on the ground.
When it comes to interceptions, the Redskins are tied for 26th in the NFL with six. They do seem to drop a lot of interceptions but defensive backs on most teams do the same thing (well, except for Carlos Rogers of the 49ers). As the old saying goes, if a guy can catch the ball, he’s not going to be made a cornerback; he’ll be a wide receiver.
The other factor in at work here is that teams just don’t attempt many passes against Washington. Opposing teams have thrown 375 times against the Redskins. Only seven teams have faced fewer pass attempts. Fewer pass attempts means fewer opportunities to get picks.
The overriding factor in takeaways, however, is the scoreboard. When a defense is playing with a lead, it can attack. The defensive front can go after the quarterback with abandon, the defensive backs can gamble more. That is how takeaways pile up.
The Redskins went from the end of their game against the Rams on Oct. 2 until the second quarter of their game against Dallas on Nov. 20, 21 quarters, without leading in a game. That makes it hard to play defense with the type of abandon that leads to a lot of turnovers.
Still, the Redskins could do better. The Chiefs, for example, have had 350 passes thrown against them, 25 fewer than have been attempted against the Redskins. Kansas City has 17 interceptions, more than twice the Redskins’ total. And while the Chiefs may not have had as experienced a stretch of playing without a lead as long the Redskins did, they are 5-7 so it’s safe to say that they have been playing from behind a lot, too.
So, regardless of the circumstances, the Redskins need to produce more takeaways by holding on to their opportunities for interceptions and pick up more loose balls that are rolling around on the ground.
As Brian Orakpo prepares to play against an NFC East opponent for the 16th time in his two and a half year career, an odd stat has started to make the rounds. In his 15 previous games against the division, Orakpo has posted only half of one sack. That came last year against Philadelphia.
In his 25 career games against teams outside of the division he has 24.5 sacks, an average of just about one a game. But against the division he doesn’t get it done in the sack department.
On closer examination, though, maybe the stat isn’t so odd. In order to rack up sacks in a game, it helps to have your team leading in the game. If your team leads by a lot, that makes it that much easier to rare back and rush the passer.
The Redskins have not fared very well against the NFC East since the Redskins drafted him in 2009. They are 3-12 in the division since Orakpo has been with the team and the games really haven’t been close. The Redskins losses to the Cowboys, Eagles, and Giants have been by an average score of 27-15. Washington’s biggest lead in those 15 division games has been 14 points and they had it twice.
In 2010 they scored touchdowns on their first two possessions in Philadelphia to take a 14-0 lead. The Eagles chipped away at that lead in the second quarter and it was a one-score contest by halftime. The Redskins had to survive a Jason Avant drop of a Hail Mary pass at the end to hang on for the win. Then earlier this year, the Redskins broke open their game with the Giants by taking a 28-14 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
So Orakpo has not had much of a chance to let loose against the division. He has shown what he can do in games when his team has the lead. In one of the few laughers he has played in, Orakpo got four sacks as the Redskins thumped the Raiders 34-13. Earlier this year he turned up the heat as the Redskins took a 17-0 lead over the Rams and posted 2.5 sacks.
Regardless of the score, however, you would think that a great pass rusher would be able to stumble into a few sacks over the course of 15 games. As a team, the Redskins have 18 sacks in those games so there have been opportunities for their top sack master to round up a few of them.
Orakpo has three more chances to up his sack total in the division this year. Perhaps the Redskins offense, which has scored four touchdowns in the last five games, can start to click and give him a hand.
By Ryan O'Halloran
Once again Thursday, Jim Haslett stressed the need to create more turnovers, but once the defense does, the offense has to do a better job cashing in.
Of the 10 takeaways this season, six times the Redskins have come up with zero points as a result. They have 24 points (three touchdowns, one field goal) off takeaways and the first of those was a interception-turned-TD by linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.
Conversely, the Redskins’ defense has held down the fort relatively well during a sudden change.
The Redskins have 16 giveaways, but the defense has allowed only 32 points, including eight possessions of no points.
A shutout loss doesn’t produce many positives, but one was the performance by defensive end Kedric Golston. He had a season-high eight tackles against Buffalo and notched his first solo sack of the year.
“I thought it was one of his better games,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “He rushed the quarterback well and did well in the running game.”
In the last two games, Golston has played 44 of 142 snaps (30.9 percent) as the Redskins have utilized their depth along the defensive line. Five players saw at least 25 snaps of work against the Bills.
Getting more players involved is a planned effort by the coaching staff to make sure the linemen have something left for December.
“All those guys are playing less snaps because we’re rotating five guys,” Haslett said. “Last year, I thought with our age and all the snaps we were taking, we fell apart. I don’t foresee that this year.”
By Rich Tandler
I wrote an article about this and then mentioned it again on Redskins Nation in the clip below. The Redskins have lost six straight times to teams starting true rookie quarterbacks. One of the issues in those games has been a lack of takeaways. They have a total of three interceptions of the rookies in those six games.
Cam Newton has been rather generous with the ball. He has thrown at least one pick in each of the Panthers' six games with the exception of their Week 3 win over Jacksonville. Twice he has thrown three interceptions in a game, against the Packers and Falcons, and he has a total of nine on the year.
The Redskins got two of their five interceptions this year last week against the Eagles. They got one because they got pressure on fill-in quarterback Vince Young and the other came when Oshiomogho Atogwe came down with a tipped ball (actually, Michael Vick's pass ricocheted off of the helmet of Barry Cofield). If they can stay on a roll when it comes to grabbing opponents' passes they will go a long way towards breaking the rookie QB jinx.
Wait, is it a jinx or are the Redskins due to beat a rookie? See the video.
By Ryan O'Halloran
Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield already has set a career-high with five pass break-ups, even if one of them went off his helmet (resulting in an Oshiomogho Atogwe interception) than his hands.
Cofield’s ability to have a nose for the football impresses defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.
“It’s kind of a knack,” Haslett said. “He’s one of those guys who is always in front of the quarterback. He always has his hands up and leaving his feet. It’s a great quality to have because from the nose [position], you’re never going to get a great sack total, but if you can stay in front of the quarterback and be in his face, that’s something we didn’t have last year.”
Cofield did pick up a sack last week, cleaning up on Michael Vick after Brian Orakpo flushed Vick from the pocket.
By Rich Tandler
Did the Redskins’ defense turn a corner after the Eagles ran up 59 points on them last November?
Jim Haslett thinks that his unit did. When asked about the team’s improvement on Thursday, the defensive coordinator said, “If we can keep people off the scoreboard, and we’ve done a pretty good job with that since the last time we played them last year, if you look at our numbers, we’ve been keeping people [off the scoreboard].”
And the numbers back up what Haslett said. The Redskins have played 11 games since the Eagles game and they have given up 211 points. That is an average of 19 points per game.
In 2010, a 19-point average would have ranked seventh in the NFL, so that would have to be considered a solid performance.