Washington Post: Where is the Redskins Defensive Line?

Today I've got another post up at the Washington Post's Redskins Insider site. This time I look at how the Redskins defensive line is holding the team back.

  • There were many ups and downs in Sunday night's game against the Colts, but one sequence of two early plays completely changed the complexion of the game.
  • The Redskins have been lucky with turnovers so far, but you can't count on that luck to continue.
  • LaRon Landry is leading the league in tackles, but that's one record a safety does not want.
  • Linebackers London Fletcher and Rocky McIntosh are picking up the slack for the DL.
  • One key in the Redskins' upcoming game against Chicago will be getting to Jay Cutler. His sack rate is jaw dropping.

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11 Responses to “Washington Post: Where is the Redskins Defensive Line?”

  1. Ian Simcox says:

    Well, in amongst the anti-stats message from Floudner21, there is a good point.

    He says "The majority of Landry's tackles are right at or near the line of scrimmage", and it got me wondering whether it's possible to do a Tackle Factor type stat that looks at average yards in plays where a player makes a tackle.

    Then you'd be able to tell whether Landry was making lots of tackle in the box (he would have a lower average yardage given up than the average safety) or whether runners are getting through more often (in which case he'd be making loads of tackles but giving up an average number of yards per tackle.)

  2. Brian Burke says:

    That's a good idea, and I can do that. You can also compare Landry's success rate to other safeties. How many plays in which he's been involved have left the Redskins better off than worse off? Obviously, safeties are at a disadvantage.

    One other idea I've been kicking around for about a year is count up a defenders "success" tackles.

  3. Brian Burke says:

    Looks like his SR is just below average for safeties at 39%, so I'm not sure a disproportionate number of his tackles are really "inside the box."


    He's a beast, don't get me wrong. He's helping clean up the mess the rest of the defense is making, plus he has 1 Sk, 4 QB hits, 1 FF, 4 passes defended, 1 int, and 4 tackles for losses.

  4. Bren says:

    Hey Brian, I'm so glad to see you writing at Redskin's Insider. I've been following your blog for a while so I'm glad to see it applied to the 'skins. Don't sweat the haters at on R.I. they complain about everything.

    One suggestion though, for WaPo readers who don't know your blog. If WaPo allows it, you should link to your blog entries that explain your views on subjects like turnovers etc. That's great stuff, but it contradicts so much color commentary nonsense that it's hard to buy until one hears the complete explanation.

  5. DSMok1 says:

    Good idea, Bren.

    Except then they might comment here.

    I do agree, though, often people don't buy the whole "turnovers are basically random" line. I think football fans tend to be more emotional than baseball fans? Or is it that the very nature of baseball games (hit-or-miss) makes the semi-random characteristic of the game obvious?

  6. Ian Simcox says:


    I suspect there's also an element of not understanding randomness. In this case, they see Washington t-5th in TO margin after six games. At the end of the season Washington will, in all likelihood, be in the upper quartile and they assume from that there is a link between past and future performance, whereas the actual link is between overall and past performance.

  7. Ivan Bezdomny says:

    You are right that turnovers are mostly luck-based. But to what extent have you broken down turnovers by type?

    It seems possible that interceptions vs QB fumbles vs RB fumbles revert to the mean at different rates. Fumble recoveries are random, so maybe just consider forced fumbles? Small data sizes, but maybe something useful there based on half a season?

    Sorry if this was addressed in another post. Can you post a link if that was the case?

  8. Adam Davis says:

    When I look at the comments on the WP articles or I consider the typical fan view about turnovers, I think the primary issue is that the "man on the street" has a very poor understanding of *explanatory* versus *predictive*. People see stats from previous games and it is intuitive - even downright obvious - that the TO differential or the ST play had a huge impact on the game. But then they can't differentiate the explanatory power of these stats from their (relatively nonexistent) predictive power.

  9. Brian Burke says:

    I was the same way for about 90% of my life. Until about 3 years ago, I would have been one of the people that think this stuff is stupid.

    I think it's natural to think very deterministically. I certainly did. As an engineer and pilot I was trained that way. If we all knew just how random the world around us and just how much we are at the mercy of things we cannot control, we'd all just give up or at least not try as hard at the things we do.

  10. DSMok1 says:

    "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD." Prov. 16:33

    That's how I look at all of the randomness, being one of those who has a good mathematical understanding of it.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting discussion.

    Had a quick question, Is it possible that "some" ranndomness can be explained by teams making ajustment ? Or opponents making adjustments ?

    Eample, If a team throws alot of int's, can't they make some adjustments to a shorter passing game or run different schemes thereby producing different results ?

    Couldn't the Chargers make adjustments to their ST's, thereby changing the end results ?

    Or am I looking at it wrong ?? Thanks

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