By Bryan Frantz

WASHINGTON — Anybody who’s watched the Redskins this season knows the team’s third-down defense has been abysmal. However, it’s almost unbelievable how much bad Washington has been at preventing opponents from converting third downs.

Per, the Redskins have allowed opposing offenses to convert 27 of 47 third downs, a 57 percent success rate, by far the worst in the NFL.

For context, the Detroit Lions have been the next-worst at getting their defense off the field on third downs, at 47 percent. The next 18 teams after Washington are all between 40 and 47 percent success rate on third down, and the final 13 teams in the league are between 30 and 39 percent.

Ten percent separates the first and second team, and ten percent separates the second and 21st team (Green Bay Packers).

Washington has allowed the most third-down conversions of any team in the league, but 24 teams have faced more third downs than it has.

Here is a visual depiction of it, via

3rd down Yes, the Redskins 3rd Down Defense is Really Bad

While the Redskins have only allowed three fourth-down conversions on the season, they’ve only faced four chances. They’re one of just eight teams to allow at least a 75 percent conversion rate; two of the other seven teams (Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets) have each only seen one fourth-down attempt.

In the Redskins’ most recent game, a 31-20 win over the Cleveland Browns, they allowed Cleveland to convert eight of 12 third downs, though they stopped the Browns on their only fourth-down attempt. Still, 8-for-13 on third and fourth downs translates to a 61.5 percent success rate, and that’s remarkably bad.

For reference, the New York Giants had the league’s worst third-down defense last season, with a 47 percent success rate. In 2012, the Redskins had the worst third-down defense in the league, with a 44 percent success rate. The San Diego Chargers allowed a 49 percent success rate in 2011, the highest rate in at least the past decade.

So yes, the Redskins’ third-down (and fourth-down) defense has been as bad as it’s seemed.

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  1. Two causes, the first being the most important: inept tackling (both technique and participation); the third-down defense structure, including lining up promptly. j

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