Between the Stat Sheets is a twice-weekly look into the statistical tendencies that must improve for the Redskins to make progress this year. All stats are courtesy of Pro Football Focus, unless otherwise noted.
Jordan Reed seems to seriously get out of tune when he sees contact. He’s like an old piano, or a Rube Goldberg machine. Admire from a distance, but God forbid you clumsily nudge into him. You almost wish the Skins would lock him in the training room till the season starts.
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Pro Football Focus measures the run blocking effectiveness of all qualifying players through every run snap they took through the year. If the player gets depth on his respective block, he earns a positive grade for that play.
If he is beaten or pushed back on the play, he gets a negative grade. Last year, PFF rated Jordan Reed’s run blocking at a -2.0. At first glance this seems only slightly below average, assuming a zero serves as a baseline for tight ends’ run blocking efficiency. But a -2.0 puts Reed 43rd in the league, in the same class as aging players like Brandon Pettigrew and Owen Daniels.
Nov 30, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed (86) tries to evade Indianapolis Colts safety Mike Adams (29) at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts won, 49-27. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
In the past, the Redskins have expected Paulsen to make up for the shortcomings of Paul (lowest rated of the three in pass-blocking) and Reed in the run game. But Paulsen is a slow, lumbering route runner, and therefore a liability in passing situations.
Because of this, the last two coaching regimes have endlessly saloon-doored these guys, so that Reed has not been forced to make serious improvements to his blocking or else. With both Paulsen and Paul out, Reed is now forced to develop the most glaring weakness in his game aside from his hamstrings.
In the past, Reed has only been able to play in passing situations, and so is being matched up to faster DBs who are better in coverage. Reed is still a coverage nightmare in these situations, but he’s manageable. Take a look at the video below, and notice how many of his big plays come in 2nd and 3rd and long situations.
Reed on the field in running situations means the potential for easier receiving opportunities. These situations will present a Gronkowski-sized coverage problem for defenses: a tall, fast tight end against a middle linebacker or strong safety.
With the safeties already occupied guarding DeSean Jackson deep and Pierre Garcon in the middle-center of the field, Reed will find himself in one-on-one situations against guys who are considerably shorter and slower than he is.
But if Reed can’t improve is run-blocking to, say, league average (in the Greg Olsen +1.9 range, almost exactly where Reed graded in his rookie season), then he’ll be a liability in the run game. This will lead to more 2nd and 3rd and longs, more nickle and dime packages, more RG3 sacks, and more tears on my Griffin III throwback jersey.
It’s a potential Walter White-type downward spiral, every subsequent cover-up leading the Redskins further into their own destruction.