Red Zone Inefficiency Plagues Redskins in Dallas

The Redskins only converted two of their five red zone trips into touchdowns against Dallas. What’s going on?

The Redskins had an incredible 505 total yards against Dallas on Thursday, but could only turn that into 3 touchdowns. Washington was able to sustain long drives to the Dallas 20, but the offense seemed to flounder once in a position to score. A combination of poor play calling and miscommunication contributed to this inability to convert.

The Redskins had three trips to the red zone in the first half, yet only had 6 points to show for it. The Cowboys converted on both of their red zone drives in the first half, forcing the Redskins to play from behind for the rest of the game. It was a lead the Cowboys would never relinquish.

On the Redskins’ first drive of the game, they marched up the field to the Cowboys’ 19. From there, everything went downhill. Chris Thompson lost three yards on a rush. Ty Nsekhe committed a holding penalty. Faced with 2nd and 23, the Redskins inexplicably ran Thompson up the middle, which went for 6 yards, and then threw a conservative screen pass to Jamison Crowder that only gained one yard. Dustin Hopkins then missed a 43-yard field goal, and the whole drive amounted to nothing.

On the next drive, the Redskins picked up right where they had left off, marching down the field again. On 1st down at the Dallas 27-yard line, Kirk Cousins threw a strike to Vernon Davis, who scampered downfield to the Cowboys’ 5-yard line, setting up first and goal. Again, the offense sputtered once inside the red zone. A Wildcat direct snap to Rob Kelley lost a yard. Two incompletions followed, as Dallas covered all receivers well on consecutive plays. The Redskins settled for a field goal once again.

Just before halftime, the Redskins got down the field in just over a minute. They entered the red zone with 1 minute and 4 seconds to play in the half. Cousins threw an incompletion at the Dallas 10, and then an 8-yard strike to Pierre Garcon to bring the Redskins to within 2 yards of pay dirt. However, poor time management left the Redskins just 11 seconds to score on third down, virtually guaranteeing a pass. A miscommunication between Cousins and Crowder resulted in an incompletion and yet another field goal.

Despite consistent drives, the Redskins stalled out in the red zone every single time they arrived there in the first half. The inability to capitalize allowed to Dallas to take a lead and never look back. Red zone efficiency likely would have resulted in a win.

However, the Redskins have been plagued in the red zone all year. They rank 28th in the league in red zone efficiency, converting on an ignominious 48.43 percent of trips. This is especially frustrating considering that Washington is currently the top team in the league in overall offense, based on yards per game. The team improved slightly, converting 50 percent in their last three games, but for a top offense, this number is still far too low.

Coach Jay Gruden did recognize red zone efficiency as an area in need of improvement in his post-game press conferences, per Jake Kring-Schreifels of

We’ve got to do better in the red zone early in games.

Players appear to be frustrated by this inefficiency as well. Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson said the following, per ESPN’s Jon Keim.

That’s been the tale of our season. Red zone, missing a couple plays to not score.

Until the team works out its red zone issues, good teams like Dallas will continue to exploit this weakness.

Redskins nose tackle Chris Baker said it best — “We have to find a way to make those plays.”

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