The resurgent(7-6) Washington Redskins visit the suddenly reborn Cleveland Browns (5-8) this Sunday afternoon at 1 PM at Cleveland Browns Stadium, on ESPN 980 AM, 94.3/92.7 FM, www.espn980.com and the Washington Redskins Radio Network.
Our pregame coverage begins at 9 AM ET, from Cleveland with Larry Michael, John Keim (@John_Keim) and me (@RussellMania980). Kevin Sheehan hosts the official Redskins pregame show at 10 A, featuring live reports from Browns Stadium with Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell), Rick "Doc" Walker (@RickDocWalker), Sonny Jurgensen and me.
Let's go "Inside the Numbers" for this important tilt, that will absolutely be riveting to watch, no matter who is at Quarterback for the Redskins.
***As we write this, we have no idea who the starting QB is for the Redskins because of Robert Griffin III's knee injury. With that being said, Alfred Morris is more important than ever.
Morris has 1,228 yards in his 13 games as a Redskins RB. He averages 4.9 yards per carry, with 7 touchdowns, and a robust 94.46 yards per game. He has six 100-plus yard games, including three in a row in the division. Based on his 94.46 per game average, if he at least keeps that average up, Morris is on pace to finish at 1,511 yards and 8 touchdowns.
An interesting note that may mean absolutely nothing, but might be more glaring if Griffin III can not play - is that Morris is averaging nearly 86.3 yards per game against AFC North opponents, but two of those games were somewhat subpar. Against the Bengals, Morris was (17-78, 4.6, TD) and against Pittsburgh, (13-59, 4.5). Again not bad, but the 122 spot against the Ravens certainly boosted the numbers.
In his only rushing attempts without Griffin as the Quarterback, he had three total rushes for six net yards rushing against Atlanta and had three total rushes for five yards, in the overtime period against Baltimore. In case you are math-challenged - (6 rushes-11 net yards, 1.83). I included (for sample size purposes) the first play of overtime, a two yard rush which technically was not a play, because of Ed Reed's penalty.
So much of the talk this week has been can Morris and the Redskins play-action game be as effective if Robert Griffin III is not playing. The brief compilation of numbers would indicate no, but clearly it is not a large sample. I do not believe the Redskins will be able to run a lot of zone-read fakes out of the pistol formation if/when Kirk Cousins is the QB.
In the Baltimore game, Cousins was under center in the I-formation for the brief overtime period. Clearly, the Redskins were just trying to get a few extra yards, and playing conservatively. On the two point conversion, Cousins was in a modified pistol with Evan Royster less than a full yard behind him and off-set. On the touchdown to Pierre Garcon - Cousins was in shotgun, with Royster off-set to his left.
****The Redskins have scored 343 points, while the Browns have racked up only 259 points. A fast start will be a key, for whoever is the quarterback. Washington has scored 72 points in the first quarter of games (5.53/game) while the Browns have only scored 40. Cleveland has yielded 70 first quarter points, and 76 in the 2nd quarter.
The Redskins have 840 more yards from scrimmage than Cleveland has (386.5 - 321.8/game average) and average 1.1 more yards per play than the Browns do (6.2 - 5.1). It's hard to be worse on third-downs than the Redskins have been this year (33.12%) but not surprisingly, the Browns have been. They've only converted (30.98%).
It's also hard to be in the Redskins neighborhood in terms of penalties, but Cleveland has not been much better. Washington has 105/896 (penalties/yards) and the Browns are at a less than impressive 89/827.
Turnovers could also be and really need to be a huge factor. The Redskins have lost 12 (6 fumbles (22 overall), 6 interceptions), while the Browns have only lost 4 fumbles but have thrown 15 interceptions. The Redskins have generated 82 points directly via turnover or forced turnovers (4 TD, 54 on possessions after), which ranks 9th in the NFL. The Redskins are tied for 5th in turnover margin at + 12, while the Browns, mostly because of their eight forced turnover win against Pittsburgh are tied for 8th at + 8.
***The Redskins have allowed only ten points combined in the last two 2nd halves of football (NYG, BALT) plus the one series in overtime. That's 4 + quarters of football, but of course broken up over two games and separated by not so good first halves. The Redskins best stretch by my warped math this year? The 2nd half of the Carolina game, yielded seven points followed by a six point effort against Philadelphia and then three points allowed in the first half to Dallas. Essentially in 8 consecutive quarters (2 full games) of football - the Redskins defense allowed 16 total points, or an average of 2 points per quarter. Just to match that, the Redskins would have to hold the Browns and Eagles (until halftime @ Philadelphia) to a total of 9 points.
***The Redskins have been in the red zone 42 times this year, and have scored touchdowns on 23 of those possessions (54.7%), and have also kicked 11 field goals for a total of 34/42 red zone opportunites (80.9%). The Redskins defense has allowed 25 touchdowns on 44 red zone opportunities (56.8%), and opponents have also kicked 14 field goals for a total of scores on 39/44 red zone opportunities (88.6 %).
***The Redskins are 2nd in the NFC and 5th in the NFL in yards after catch average (6.0) but 20th in total yards after the catch in the league, at 1,446. The Raiders are first at 1,966. They're 9th in the 16-team NFC behind both Philadelphia and Dallas, who are the Redskins next two opponents. The Browns are 7th in the NFL in total yards-after-catch http://bit.ly/UtZKnB at 1,701 yards.
***The Browns have talent. Make no mistake about it. Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson leads the team with 97 tackles , 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles. He's also pretty good in coverage as well. Defensive back T.J. Ward 45 solo tackles, one sack, three forced fumbles and three passes defensed. Another safety, Buster Skrine has 56 solo tackles and 11 passes defensed. Cornerbacks Joe Haden and Sheldon Brown are tied for the team lead in interceptions with three each.
Cleveland, like Baltimore last week appears loaded on special teams, with Josh Cribbs isa duel threat returner with 33 punt returns for 424 yards, and has gained 885 yards on 32 returns (27.7 avg.). Travis Benjamin, a young speedster has a punt return for a TD. Placekicker Phil Dawson has made 26 of 27 field goals on the year.
Robert Griffin III was the # 2 overall pick, but Trent Richardson was # 3 and has piled up a cumulative 1,217 yards (247-869-3.5 AVG, 9 TD rushing). He leads the Browns in receptions (45-348-1 TD). Just as a point of comparison, 6th round pick Alfred Morris has 1,228 RUSHING ONLY yards in his 13 games.