Game Statistics That Tell The Tale

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Mark Twain once said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

I don’t peddle the first two, but I’ll make my case for the third, and it comes with a caution.  Statistics in sports are a means for understanding a rate of success or validity.  They are not the whole the story, and should not be taken in place of the tape that the players and coaches will study.  Statistics do not offer suggestions, they just look at trends.

In the case of yesterday’s game, there were numbers that stood in contrast to the success experienced in the first two games.

The things that made the Redskins successful on offense in the first two games: time of possession, total plays, establishing the running game, and third down conversions—didn’t come through last night.

  • Time of possession: 28:24 yesterday vs. 35:33 in each of the first two weeks.  Averaged 27:55 in 2010.
  • Total plays: 62 yesterday vs. 71.5 in each of the first two weeks.
  • Rushing yards: 65 yesterday vs. 123 in each of the first two weeks.
  • Third down conversion percentage: 25 percent yesterday vs. 34 percent in each of the first two weeks.

The things that made them successful on special teams in the first two games: good returns, clean snaps and holds, and consistent coverage—didn’t come through last night.

  • Kick return average: 20 yards yesterday vs. 25.5 in each of the first two weeks.
  • Punt return average: 8 yards yesterday vs. 15.75 in each of the first two weeks.

The things that made them successful on defense in the first two games: getting the opposing offense off the field, and getting pressure on the opposing quarterback—didn’t come through last night.

  • Sacks per game: one yesterday vs. 3.5 in each of the first two weeks.

The most important reason NOT to obsess over these numbers is the minuscule sample size.  Comparing one game to the previous two is bad math, and I only bring these up as an indicator.

Secondly, these stats are all interrelated, and cannot be isolated to give credit or assign blame.  Stats like turnovers and time of possession are a two-way street on offense and defense.  Special teams coverage and returns are dependent on the defense to provide room for a return, and blocking to open holes.

When those things don’t happen, everyone suffers, and nobody boarded the plane with personal or moral victories last night.

Many players have trickled in on their day off today for conditioning and film study.  In a game of adjustments, how the team as a whole prepares for Week 4 will determine their record going into the bye week.

0 thoughts on “Game Statistics That Tell The Tale

  1. On the ESPN articles by Dan Graz, there are a lot of homers on both sides of last nights game… One guy tried to pull up Jones YPC versus Hightower, telling us our running game wasn’t there. It wasn’t there because Kyle did not stick to it as often as he should have… I felt we passed WAY too much last night..


    • @Trent-

      I think there are a couple things that people aren’t talking about. The Redskins rushed for a season-low 22 times, but never really got traction at all. There didn’t seem to be a big-gainer just waiting to happen–it just wasn’t there. Part of that was obviously the front seven of Dallas, but the offensive line just wasn’t blowing open the holes that we’ve seen either. Part of it can be attributed to a lack of Darrel Young or a healthy fullback of any variety. True, the Redskins run a lot of single back, two tight end sets in the run game, but not having the DY I-formation hurt them. My guess? It was a combination of a lot of things, but clearly this offense has more and better opportunities when the run game is rolling. Not only does it shorten the down and distance, it also opens up the play action and bootleg that K. Shanahan loves to run. That’s what this offense is predicated on, and they need to run a lot, you’re right–but they need to run effectively too.


  2. I’m a little confused about why Hightower has been left on the sideline so much. He was very instrumental in scoring the only touchdown of the game and then didn’t touch the ball the next two times we had the ball. I have nothing against Helu but why change something that is working! The same thing happened in the last game against the Cardinals. Hightower had over 80 yards in the first half and then hardly touched the ball in the 2nd half. Hightower is our best RB and should play most series and Helu should be used to give him a breather.

    I love my Skins but we should have won that game easily.


    • @William-

      I think the beauty of Hightower and Helu as a combination, is that they possess different skills. As a defense adjusts and wears down, there are things that benefit one back or the other, based on what the coaches are seeing. The other thing is that Hightower has had a maximum of only 153 rushes in a year, and that was last season. He’s already at 59 this season. It’s not that he can’t handle it, but it is a concern to see how he handles it.

      I’m not defending it one way or the other, but there is some rationale behind it.


  3. I agree with trent & william on all counts & as I said earlier john riggins could instill smarts & will to win at any cost even if coachs get upset with him. Brian I am on your side & with the skins all the way BUT I can’t & won’t sugar-coat poor play calling & players not playing up to their potential in every game. They are pros. & get paid as pros for their potential including the coaching staff.


    • @jim horath-

      I agree, and I agree with holding the players to a high standard. I’m just not of a mind to unleash the boo-birds after one loss. I think football is a game of adjustment, and every time you have a setback, there’s time to overcome it. That’s the beauty of a young team, because you know you haven’t seen the best that they have to offer yet. When there were bad teams in the past, it was disheartening because it was the best that they could be. Not so with this year’s team. Give it a little time!


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