- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 5, 2008

With 90 enforced penalties, the Washington Redskins had the fewest infractions in 10 years and tied for the fifth-fewest in coach Joe Gibbs’ 14 full seasons.

The Redskins tied for 14th in the NFL in penalties but made a 16-penalty, 200-yard improvement compared with last year.

The Seattle Seahawks, today’s opponent in an NFC wild card game, committed the fewest penalties (59). Eight of this year’s 12 playoff teams finished in the top 14 of fewest penalties.

In each of the previous nine seasons, the Redskins were flagged 104 or more times, with a high of 124 for 1,038 yards in 2003.

In Gibbs’ first three seasons back with the Redskins, the team committed 115, 108 and 106 penalties for 1,047, 925 and 951 yards, respectively. The Redskins established the low for a Gibbs-coached team in a full season in 1985 with 74.

The last time Washington committed less than 100 penalties was 1997 when it had 78 penalties for 639 yards.

Thirty-four Redskins were penalized this season. “Team” penalties led the way with 11 infractions. The individual leaders were Casey Rabach, Chris Samuels and Fred Smoot with five apiece. Rabach was whistled for three holding and two false starts, Samuels five false starts and Smoot three illegal contacts, one hold and one block in the back.

The Redskins received 11 personal foul penalties — face masks, late hits, taunting. Rookie safety LaRon Landry had four personal foul penalties.

Safety Reed Doughty had the longest penalty — a 51-yard pass interference call at Dallas.

The NFL average was 91.6 penalties for 720.1 yards.

Prediction was right

Pro Football Prospectus editor Aaron Schatz predicted before the season Washington would reach the playoffs. But he gives Seattle the slight edge today.

“I looked at three main things for the Redskins — one was right, one turned out to be wrong and one was both,” he said. “One was improvement from Jason Campbell. Kind of right, kind of wrong.

“The second issue was third down passing defense. They couldn’t be nearly as bad as they were last year. But the thing is, they’re still very poor on third down — 26th through our formula, compared with fifth on first down and sixth on second down. But they’re still light years better on third down from where they were last year when they were the worst third-down pass defense in 12 years.

“The final thing was we predicted Dallas’ and New York’s numbers would decline, which would leave Washington room to improve. That turned out to be wrong. … They definitely had a shot looking at their schedule, but I thought they would end up one game out after the Buffalo game.”

The Redskins ended the season tied for 11th with Philadelphia in team efficiency. Dallas ranked third and the Giants 16th.

“Playing in the NFC with an average offense (17th), average special teams (16th) and sixth on defense in a year where they were really no great defenses makes you a playoff team,” Schatz said.

In other ratings, the Redskins ranked near the bottom in pass rush, near the top in pass protection.

Thrash questionable

Receiver James Thrash (high ankle sprain) is listed as questionable for the game. Thrash injured the ankle in the Week 10 loss to Philadelphia and missed four games.

If Thrash can’t play, Keenan McCardell would likely dress as the fourth receiver behind Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El and Reche Caldwell.

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