Every game has a story inside of another story with statistics, trends, facts and figures that ultimately mean something and sometimes turn out to be absolutely nothing.
Some of our statistics and facts from the Giants-Redskins tilt last week, proved to be true and some proved to be way-off, but that won't stop us from another round, as the Redskins head to Pittsburgh.
***The Redskins lead the NFL with 177.7 rushing yards per game, while rookies Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III have combined for 1,126 yards this season out of the 1,244 net yards rushing that Washington has accumulated in 7 games. The total that Morris & Griffin have racked up, means they have outrushed a total of 30 NFL teams have rushed for. The Steelers defense has allowed 555 net yards rushing, in six games, (92.5/game) on 136 attempts, for an average of 4.08 yards/per attempt. The Redskins are averaging 5.43 yards/per attempt, which ranks 2nd in the NFL.
***One of the key areas of emphasis for the Redskins this off-season was yards after catch (YAC). Even without Pierre Garcon making a huge contribution (8-153), Washington ranks first in yards after catch average at (6.7). The Santana Moss touchdown catch on a bubble screen last week is a perfect example. The catch unofficially yielded 27 yards after the catch. Moss is averaging 7.26 in YAC, good for 11th in the NFL, per NFL GSIS. The Steelers are only allowing 184.8 yards per games in net yards passing, with a completion percentage of 59.3% allowed -- so the Redskins would be wise to break a few tackles.
***The Redskins rank first in the NFL in yards per play (6.4), and first in the NFC/2nd in NFL in yards on first down plays at 1,388. Washington also ranks # 1 in passing yards per play at 8.08. They have also improved on third downs from a pathetic 23 % going into the Vikings game, to 30.6 % heading into Heinz Field.
***Speaking of third downs, as usual, this game should be decided on the money down percentages. The Steelers are converting an eye-opening 53.8% on their third down opportunities. That's # 1 in the NFL, while the Redskins for comparison sake are 29th in the league. On defense, (cover your eyes if you like burgundy and gold) the Redskins are yielding 44.4 % on third down (40/90). Surprisingly, teams are even worse than that, because the Redskins are only 26th in the NFL in that area. You know who one of those teams worse than the Redskins are on third down defense? Yup, the Steelers are giving up 47.2% on third down (34/72). Pittsburgh is 31st in the NFL in this key area.
**Steelers Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau is a pretty sharp mind, and outside of the Steelers poor third down defense, the Pittsburgh defense shows exactly why LeBeau is the gold standard of coordinators, especially in the 34 front. He's also (no surprise) outstanding against rookie quarterbacks in his career, to the tune of (14-1).
The list is not exactly a who's who of hall of fame quarterbacks, but there are some good ones on the LeBeau hit chart, that was sent to me via twitter from @CaptainComeback. Eli Manning, Joe Flacco (three times in his rookie year), and Andy Dalton are the headliners.
The group also features Bruce Gradkowski, Jimmy Clausen, Charlie Frye and former Redskins QB John Beck. Not exactly anywhere near Canton in that section, but you get the point. Overall, the numbers are what stands out against rookie gunslingers.
They are (234-447, 2474), for a robust 52.3% completion percentage. These rookies have also thrown ten touchdowns to 17 picks against LeBeau led units. What does all of this mean for Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins? Not much, but it suggests that the Redskins defense and special teams could and should really help out, in a big way for the Skins to have a good chance.
****ESPN 980 Redskins Radio Network statistician (amongst other positions) Chuck Sapienza came up with this gem of a historical number between the Steelers and the Redskins. The Redskins & Steelers have faced each other 76 times in their history. No Skins RB, per Sapienza, has ever gone over 85 yards. That's pretty hard to fathom. If u want a bit of good trend news, the Redskins are 42-31-3 all-time between the two franchises. Of course, recent history is not very favorable to Washington as the Steelers have won four in a row, with the last Redskins win coming in 1991 in the steel city.
***This would go better next week, when Carolina is in town -- but the comparison between Ben Roethlisberger and Robert Griffin III statistically was really not a fair comparison, for many reasons. However, I thought it would be fun to compare Newton and Griffin III's rookie season, side-by-side.
Newton in first 7 NFL games had 57 rushing attempts., 266 yards, 7 rushing TD, in 2011. Robert Griffin III in his first 7 games, has 64 rushing attempts, 468 rushing yards, 7.3 average/rush, 6 rushing touchdowns.
In the passing department, Cam Newton was (152-252) 60.3%, 2,103 passing yards, 8 passing touchdowns, 9 interceptions in first 7 NFL games. Griffin III is (133-189), 70.4%, 1,601 yards, 7 touchdowns, 3 interceptions.
The Redskins can only hope that Griffin III's sophomore season goes a lot better than Cam Newton's has so far, although a game against the Redskins secondary -- could get him healthy in a hurry.