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An Interesting Note About The Redskins' Playcalling System

Posted by Matt Terl on December 3, 2009 – 2:54 pm

It’s been an interesting week for the Redskins’ much-maligned playcalling system. First, the Redskins offense had possibly its best outing of the season, putting up 24 points and just over 300 yards.

Then on Tuesday, Chris Cooley offered up his analysis of the system on SIRIUS NFL Radio — and he wasn’t entirely complimentary. (Transcription via Jason Reid at Redskins Insider.)

“We have a really weird deal going on right now with the kind of rotation of who calls the plays, to where it goes, to who gets it and how it gets to Jason,” said Cooley, who was placed on the season-ending injured-reserve list Monday. “It’s almost unheard of. And the funny thing is the last couple weeks the offense has looked better than it has.”

Yesterday, Cooley seemingly realized that his comments were being taken as critical — despite “the funny thing” he mentions in the above excerpt — and posted a follow-up on his blog to clarify that he wasn’t standing in judgment

While I did add our new system was strange, it has started to work for our team. I have no problem with what’s going on in our huddle and am excited about how our offense and Jason Campbell is performing as of late.

I also stated that I’m proud of how our head coach has handled the situation and prepared the team to play hard every week. It’s not an easy task for any coach and I feel like we have played hard and been in every game – even with the plethora of injuries.

Okay, all well and good. Almost comforting, in fact, a flashback to earlier this season when every day of the week brought some riveting new soap opera to Redskins Park.

Today, Brian Murphy at Homer McFanboy posted the most interesting twist: a post with the lower-case headline redskins offense better with lewis.

Murphy breaks the season into two parts: the first seven games, and the last four games, and compares the numbers. Even having watched the game, even having gotten the sense that things had improved offensively, I was still surprised by the actual numbers.

Here’s Murphy:

That’s an improvement of five points, 36 total net yards, 24 rushing yards, 12 passing yards, a 31 percent improvement on third downs and 19 percent improvement in the red zone per game. They’re also giving up less sacks, turning over the ball less frequently and putting together longer drives against quality opponents than they were capable of against teams a combined 13 games under .500.

Murphy also talks to receivers Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas about Lewis’ work, and gets a money quote out of Thomas by asking about the incessant bingo jokes that followed when Lewis was named playcaller.

“It’s bingo that he’s here,” said Thomas. “It’s a good thing having him here. He’s really helped us out. He’s been away for a while, but he’s warming up. I don’t know about the situation after this season, but for the last four games, we’ve really continued to get better each and every game.”

Given the way this season has gone and the upheaval that everyone seems to think is inevitable after the year comes to an end, there aren’t very many positives to take out of this late-season improvement, and Murphy acknowledges that.

But it’s interesting to see that the statistics appear to confirm the reassignment of playcalling duties — especially given that the improved numbers are coming with star players lost to injury, and against better-ranked opponents. You have to figure the improvement will need to continue — including this week against the attacking Saints defense — for it to have any long-term effect, but it’s nice to see things trending positive, even if it’s too late to affect any sort of post-season push.

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