A hailRedskins.com Member’s View on Jason Taylor

Posted by: hail2skins on Sunday, July 27th, 2008

A hR Member’s View - This is something we plan to bring to you more often. Thoughts from the members of hailRedskins.com on all things Redskins. Hope you enjoy it.

This is from hR member hockeygoalie29.

First off, hello again everyone, I’ve been a card carrying member of HRA (Hail Redskins Anonymous) the last year or so but with the Jason Taylor news I am officially falling off the wagon. I haven’t had the time to contribute lately, but I’ve started to “feel the itch” so I am coming out of retirement…or am I? Alright, enough with the lame attempts at humor, let’s get to the point, haha.

After reading through 40+ pages of all things Jason Taylor there isn’t much left for me to add that hasn’t been said at least a dozen times (and that’s by Akh alone!). However, there is one key point that I will touch on that I don’t think has been discussed, or at least beaten to death. Please bear with me, I did a little research to back up my original theory which snowballed into a wealth of information that shows just how much of a perfect fit Jason Taylor and the Redskins are for one another.

Ok, so everyone knows the statistics already, Taylor has averaged 12.5 sacks a year since 2000 (most in the league), and more specifically, 11.5 a year sacks the last 4 years. Everyone also knows that Miami has been atrocious lately, having gone 1-15 last year and, on average, winning a measly 5 games a year the last 4 seasons. While I was trying to determine how I felt about the Skins acquiring Taylor and what possible contributions to the Redskins he could make, one thought kept running through my head:

How is it possible a guy on a team that bad racked up so many sacks?

Think about this for a minute, what is the best situation for a pass rusher to be in? The answer is to be sitting on a lead late in the game, forcing the other team to abandon the running attack and go pass happy. In that scenario, the pass rusher can tee off on the QB, knowing that he doesn’t have to maintain his run responsibilities…a prime opportunity to pad his sack numbers. Knowing this, one can conclude that a pass rusher would have a better chance at a high sack number on a good team as opposed to if the same pass rusher was on a bad team. More opportunities = more sacks. I’m sure you see where this is going…

Miami finished 1-15 last season and that one win came in overtime. That means that NOT ONCE last season was Miami playing with a lead late in the game. In fact, it was just the opposite, opposing teams abandoned the passing game, continually running the ball in the 4th quarter to kill the clock and sit on a lead. So Taylor managed to compile 11 sacks in 2007 when he was under the worst possible situation imaginable for a pass rushing defensive end. Need proof? Check out these facts courtesy of pro-football-reference.com:

Looking at the stats from 2007, the Dolphins faced 30% fewer pass attempts than the league’s average defense. To put that another way, Jason Taylor had 30% fewer opportunities to rush the passer than the average pass rusher but still posted more sacks than all but 12 others! This led me to wonder how the sack leader board would look if I took into account the number of opportunities each of the top pass rushers had during the season, so I did a little more research.

In the table below, I ranked the pass rushers by number of pass attempts per sack rather than just the total number of sacks, giving a more accurate depiction of the skills of each pass rusher. The results look nice for Skins fans:

Rank

Player (team)

Pass Attempts Per Sack

Total Sacks

Pass Attempts

1

Jared Allen (KAN)

29.8

15.5

462

2

Elvis Dumervil (DEN)

36.6

12.5

458

3

Jason Taylor (MIA)

37.2

11

409

4

Mario Williams (HOU)

39.0

14

546

5

Patrick Kerney (SEA)

39.2

14.5

568

6

DeMarcus Ware (DAL)

41.5

14

581

7

Mike Vrabel (NWE)

42.1

12.5

526

8

Trent Cole (PHI)

43.1

12.5

539

9

Osi Umenyiora (NYG)

43.6

12

523

10

Shawne Merriman (SDG)

44.4

12.5

555

11

Arron Kampman (GNB)

44.5

12

534

12

Greg Ellis (DAL)

46.5

12.5

581

13

Kyle Vanden Bosch (TEN)

47.4

12

569

14

Justin Tuck (NYG)

52.3

10

523

15

John Abraham (ATL)

53.6

10

536

16

Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (GNB)

56.2

9.5

534

17

Andre Carter (WAS)

57.3

10.5

602

18

Michael Strahan (NYG)

58.1

9

523

19

Adewale Ogunleye (CHI)

60.1

9

541

20

Julian Peterson (SEA)

63.1

9

568

21

Darnell Dockett (ARI)

63.3

9

570

A couple of things we can see from this chart:

So, what does all this mean for Jason Taylor and the Redskins? Two things come to mind:


First, Taylor should improve on his 11 sacks from last season. The Redskins faced nearly 50% more pass attempts than the Dolphins last season. Taking into account the increased opportunities and assuming Taylor keeps up the same pace (a safe assumption since the quality of chances should also go up considering the Redskins played with a lead more often than not in the 2nd half of games…see below), Taylor would have had 16 sacks this past season, best in the NFL.

Second, and most important to Redskins fans, the team’s record should see a significant boost. Last season both the offense and defense had an Achilles heel. For the offense, it was the inability to score in the red zone, a problem that should be improved by the addition of three 6’4”+ receivers in the draft. They might not put up great seasons statistically, but should make an immediate impact on the goal line. For the defense, it was getting off the field on 3rd downs and the inability to hold a lead late in the game, both directly attributable to the lack of a significant pass rush (shocker, I know).

Just how bad was it for the defense? Believe it or not, the Redskins were the 4th best defense in terms of yards per play, giving up a meager 4.8 yards every snap. However, the defense was also on the field for the 10th MOST number of plays of any team in the NFL! That is absolutely incredible combo of stats to think about, but completely believable having watched last season. I can’t even begin to count the number of times the defense stuffed the opposing offense on 1st and 2nd down, but just couldn’t make the play to end the drive on 3rd down, giving up 7.5 yards on 3rd and 7 (or 20 on 3rd and 15).

To make matters worse, the defense could not protect a lead late in the game. Looking back at the box scores from last season, I couldn’t believe that the Redskins were winning 12 games at halftime, and 10 going into the 4th quarter (no kidding, look it up). Of those 12 games they were winning at halftime, they lost 5, nearly half of them. They also lost 3 (30%) of the games they were winning going into the 4th quarter. This often gets blamed on the conservative nature of the coaching staff, but I believe it had more to do with the fact that the defense was on the field far too long throughout the game and was flat out exhausted by the 4th quarter. Once again, here are the stats to back up my claim:

Number of Points Against Per Quarter

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

44

67

86

116

The Redskins defense allowed more points in the 4th quarter last year then they did in the entire first half (116 points to 111)! In fact, the defense was lights out in the first half, giving up less than a touchdown per game by halftime (6.9 points). However, in the 2nd half, the defense gave up nearly twice as many points per game (12.6). That shows that we had a very good defense that just ran out of gas late in the game.

This is where Jason Taylor comes in. Adding a 2nd legitimate pass rusher opposite Carter will force the opposing offense to pick their poison as opposed to double teaming Carter on every passing down. It will also open up the blitzing game; no longer will Marcus Washington or LaRon Landry come on a delayed blitz only to find an offensive guard waiting for them because everyone knew we couldn’t get a pass rush without blitzing. As a result, the defense should be able to get off the field more often on 3rd downs, preserving their energy for late in the game. This will have a dramatic effect on the 4th quarter defense, allowing a rested duo of Carter and Taylor to pin their ears back and attack the quarterback. The end result should be a few more wins as the opponent’s last gasp drive ends in a sack or turnover as opposed to a game winning field goal.

Jason Taylor’s biggest problem last year was a lack of opportunity…he’ll find plenty of it here in Washington.

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