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Should the Redskins abandon the run?

Dec 8, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT


Should the Redskins abandon the run?

Before the season, such talk would have been laughed at out at Redskins Park. Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan, and the players all talked about how the team was going to be built on a foundation of toughness and that meant running the ball early and often.

But they have been awful, historically awful, when in trying to move ball on the ground. Looking at seven of their last eight games (discounting one good game against the awful Saints defense) they have rushed the ball 150 times for 364 yards. That’s an average of 2.4 yards per carry. That’s over a yard and a half lower than the NFL average of 4.1 yards per carry.

In those seven games the Redskins have averaged 2.1, 2.0, 2.6, 2.6, 2.5, 1.2, 2.8, and 2.8 yards per carry. The Redskins went from the 2010 season through last year with only eight total games averaging less than three yards per carry. Those games constitute streaks of four and three games with an average of under three yards per carry. They have had a two-game stretch of less than three yards per carry once since 2000, in 2007.

Even stepping back and looking at the whole season, their average of 3.68 yards per carry would be their worst since 1994.

The math is simple. Kirk Cousins is averaging 6.5 yards every time he drops back to pass, taking into account yards lost to sacks. Interceptions are no longer a serious issue for him. In the last six games he has just two interceptions, one of which bounced off of the hands of the intended receiver against the Patriots. After a rough start his interception percentage is 2.4, which is the league average.

Sure, he has his flaws. But he is nowhere near as flawed as the running game, where Matt Jones and Alfred Morris are both spinning their wheels and the offensive line has struggled to consistently create space.

It would be great if the Redskins were hitting their stride in the running game going into December and able to handle whatever bad weather may come their way by moving the ball over land and not through the air.

But the reality is that they’re not running the ball. The Redskins are passing at a reasonably good level of efficiency. They have a chance to win the putrid NFC East and get a playoff game at home. Should they stick with running the ball 20-30 times a game and continue to bang their collective heads against the wall? Or, in other words, engage in the definition of insanity?

Or should their take their chances with Cousins and Jordan Reed, DeSean Jackson and Matt Jones (as a receiver, not as a runner), Jamison Crowder, and Pierre Garçon? Not only would that give the Redskins a better chance to win these remaining four games it also would help the team decide Cousins’ worth in a contract that must be negotiated this offseason. Can he put a team on his back in December and carry it to the playoffs? Can the team win multiple road games with Cousins behind center.

There’s one way to find out—go to Plan B and let Cousins air it out. There will be plenty of time to work on the running game when OTAs get underway in the spring.

  1. bangkokben - Dec 8, 2015 at 12:30 PM

    Yes. Run 20 times a game but pass first. Sure, the bootlegs and play action are more successful if the opposition thinks you’re going to run the ball. (Although, Dallas had the blitz and stunt called on the first play of the game last night anticipating a break of tendency and a first down throw.) Chuck it. LeRibeus run blocking is below average. The problem is that the o-line isn’t as good as the stats indicate. When the opposition runs man-to-man coverages with safety help, can our receivers win their matchups within the 2.1 seconds the o-line can sustain their blocks? They couldn’t for the most part last night forcing Cousins into the quick check downs. They couldn’t before when Jackson was injured. it works against a team running mostly zone and I think the receivers will win their individual battles, not so sure about the line.

  2. sidepull - Dec 8, 2015 at 12:39 PM

    I thought they did abandon the run. Alf got the hook. Needs a head of steam to get rolling. Too bad really. He a great back.

    • greed - Dec 8, 2015 at 1:13 PM

      my guess we draft another RB next draft ALF ends up with broncos, cardinals, cowboys, or giants on the cheap after how this situation been handled i wouldnt resign with skins no matter what! See stephen Davis

  3. goback2rfk - Dec 8, 2015 at 12:41 PM

    Major implosion with the offensive line last night. Also, a definite failure in the Redskins coaching not making adjustments early on in the game against the brilliant Dallas Cowboy stunt/blitz defensive packages.

    Lets face it, the Cowboys had a plan defensively and the Skins offense or coaches did not have an answer.
    The offensive line looked like sh|T from the start. Cousins was under siege most of the game.
    I wont even get into the Desean Jackson return, it is what it is. A disaster area.

    The run game sucks a$$. A major malfunction of this offense is the lack of a running game. It screws everything up when you get stuffed over and over again forcing us into 2nd and 3rd and longs. A lot of 3 and outs when you can not gain a few yards on 1st downs running the ball.

    Overall, that game was hog wash. A disgusting mess of failures from the coaching all the way to execution on the field. If we can not beat a depleted Tony Rhomo Cowboys there is no reason to believe we can go to Chicago and beat Jay Cutler. What once looked like a promising end to the season may actual turn out to be another slide. I am thinking they end up finishing 6 and 10. And that folks is where I had them finishing all season. What a shame.

  4. greed - Dec 8, 2015 at 1:06 PM

    you never abandon the run no matter how bad the run game is/ you gonna get the qb killed /then playaction is nullified no matter how ineffective run game is the defense still must respect the handoff fake / no i dont want put game in cousins hand neither does gruden that the reason he impliments the short quick passinp game with an occasional shot downfield / see me after 16 games before i judge kirk on his turnover problem you say one bounced off garcon well one went through rogers-cromardie that couldve changed alot in that game – still cant figure out why D.Young not being used as a lead blocker and being phased out also what the H~LL going on with the TE position 11 wks in and we dont have or cant find one TE who can block!

    • goback2rfk - Dec 8, 2015 at 1:52 PM

      We have abandoned the run and the passing game for what it seams. The offense barely ever takes a shot down the field. The mid range passes are almost non existent. Every now and then they take a shot but rarely. This offense has turned into a check down or hot route on every single play. We can not win by not taking shots at the end-zone and down the field.

      When we get close to the endzone and redzone the field shrinks and we still throw short passes to the middle of the field. This little dink and dunk offense does not work in the redzone and we end up kicking field goals. Offense has to step up and throw into the endzone. Kirk is making a lot of safe short passes which is the reason for the cutting back on the INT’s and his above average completion %.. He does not throw longer risky throws anymore which has caused a dramatic decrease in points along with a decrease in INT’s.
      I am disgusted by this loss, a total embarrassment. No reason to believe we can win in Chicago with this horrible play calling and offensive scheme. Got to work down the field. Multiple deep passes to Jackson, mid range shots, end zone shots. The offense looked anemic last night. What a disgrace.

      The defense came to play but having only 1 sack on Matt Cassel with barely any hurries or hits is unacceptable. The Redskins pass rush is below average on a consistent basis. I am not sure how the secondary is doing as good as they are. I have a feeling Jay Cutler is going to light them up next week.
      The team has a long way to go obviously but I think next year we will be a much better squad. Got a lot to build around from this year and there have been solid improvements from last year. We will see.
      Fail to the Redskins, uh, I mean Hail to the Redskins!

  5. kenlinkins - Dec 8, 2015 at 1:52 PM

    OK, The Redskins didn’t win two in a row, they didn’t get to 500% and they lost the most meaningful big game they have played in almost two years but I will not be the guy who starts the R-G-3 chant, call for the head coach and OC to be fired, call the Special Teams play below par, say that Cousins should be benched or D Jac is a lazy bum. Why, because that was a heck of a football game played last night. Both the Redskins and Cowboys played their hearts out and other then the Ref’s killing the tempo of the game (and getting a Redskins win) what more could you ask for? If you think that the list of things the Redskins now have on the right track is not longer today then back in March, well then I can only assume that you do not know football (or maybe you have your own agenda). Were there things that I disagree with in play calling and adjustments, SURE but that is nothing new and in most cases there seemed to be good solid football reasons for the actions taken and just to clear up two items,1. NO RG3 would not have won that game if he was at QB, 2. placing the ball in one of your play makers hands when the chips are all in is never a bad idea even if the results suck (never had a bad beat playing poker?) I liked a lot of what I watched last night and just being able to watch it until the end with the hope of a win should tell you something about the state of the 2015 Redskins. We can all rip into the details and list all the holes that require filling next March, until then I am going to keep enjoying games that are played until the 0:00 mark and sometime wish for a better result.

    • hail74 - Dec 8, 2015 at 2:13 PM

      Well said and I agree. As for the play calling, I think last night was evidence of the injuries hampering playbook. People are calling for deep pass routes that take time to develop with an oline that was getting their lunch handed to them by the D. I would say that we are becoming predictable with formations, I would’ve liked to see a pass out of the jumbo set we were running. I do agree that DY should be getting some touches too tho.

      • Mr.moneylover - Dec 8, 2015 at 3:38 PM

        @hail74 you said deep passes take time to develop…he had Jamison crowder wide open in the middle of the field and desean Jackson beat his man but kirk cousins didn’t set his feet…i agree with you on jay gruden bein to predictable tho

        • hail74 - Dec 8, 2015 at 3:50 PM

          Not sure what plays your referencing so can’t comment but I know I one where Djax was open Kirk had Lee in his face and had to let it go early, another like that to garçon and was just a bit off target. Another one where djax was jumping up and down even the announcers said he wasn’t as open as he acted. The pressure last night was right up the middle, not to many guys gonna succeed there. Moving the pocket would have been nice but ultimately the Dallas front just owned our line.

    • goback2rfk - Dec 8, 2015 at 2:28 PM

      I can tell you are a glass half full type of guy.

  6. troylok - Dec 8, 2015 at 2:50 PM

    What Dallas did was pretty simple. They defended against the run and short passes by using a lot of run blitzes and eight men in the box. Gruden should have had an answer for that. Our blockers were struggling a little bit to pass protect so they should have had Cousins rolling out to buy time with this feet and hit some deep stuff. Gruden’s offense some times breaks down into something very, very predictable. He’s got to be a little more creative in both the running game and the passing game.

    • goback2rfk - Dec 8, 2015 at 3:49 PM

      I agree. Dreadful play calling, not utilizing the offensive talent he has, not making adjustments throughout the game, sticking with the same bullsh|t that is not working. Coaches got out foxed last night and that is down right embarrassing when Jason Garret is you opponent.

  7. Mr.moneylover - Dec 8, 2015 at 3:32 PM

    Its clear last night it wasnt enough play action in the game plan…play action is kirk cousins biggest strengths if you don’t run kirk cousins gonna get lit up in the pocket like last night I think they didn’t run the ball enough to set a good play action play…Alfred morris only had 8 carries last night and im sitting there saying wtf is they tryna do Alfred morris should be more involved…p.garcon shouldve been more involved jay gruden should know his players strengths and weaknesses

    • goback2rfk - Dec 8, 2015 at 3:47 PM

      I agree. The coaching performance was dreadful last night. Did Jay Gruden have to waste a time out late in the 4th because they had only 10 men on the field for defense? What the hell are these guys doing in crunch time. Stay focused good grief.
      My biggest concern is the Redskins conservative play calling and not finding a way to make adjustments sooner in the game. We let those 3 Turnovers turn into sh|t for points. That Defensive front owned the Redskins O-Line last night. Free runners countless times, missed block assignments, poor RB blocking, a plethora of blocking fails last night. What a shame. One of the most disgusting, shameful, Redskins losses I have seen in a long time. Very terrible loss. I am more mad about this loss than any other L we have dealt with. Lets see how they respond next week.

      • hail74 - Dec 8, 2015 at 3:55 PM

        That stat about being the worst in the league on turning TO’s into points is alarming. The Cowboys defense definitely dictated the game to our offense. I would say one area I think gruden needs to improve on is trusting his players. Having said that, this is a young injury depleted team that no one had high expectations for so I can be only to upset about the loss. It sure did suck tho.

        • ajbus1 - Dec 8, 2015 at 6:19 PM

          People are forgetting the injuries we’ve dealt with and the contributions being made by the youngsters.

      • Mr.moneylover - Dec 8, 2015 at 5:56 PM

        OL Tom Compton was suppose to be on the field but instead he was on the sideline so jay gruden had to burn a timeout because of that

      • Mr.moneylover - Dec 8, 2015 at 6:09 PM

        It was the center who missed assignments kirk cousins couldn’t read the defense and set protection up

    • greed - Dec 9, 2015 at 11:58 AM

      hard to run playaction when dallas was blitzing up to 3 players most of the time , gruden did nothing to adjust to beat the same blitz all game! Whats crazy i read an article last wk on bleacher report from wash post where they detailed with arrows and multiple pict of how dallas likes to stunt dlinemen and blitz up the middle with LB and from the edges with the safety now you telling me wash post detailed this i read this 3-4 days before the game but gruden and his staff didnt pick this up on film or didnt practice against this cause they looked completely unprepared

  8. Mr.moneylover - Dec 8, 2015 at 5:52 PM

    Lol…not surprise jay gruden blame kirk cousins for the lost saying there were open guys down field just the dang ball we miss p.garcon and djax on a couple routes

    • greed - Dec 9, 2015 at 12:08 PM

      The way gruden been protecting kirk all season it was suprising bet kirk thought he was teflon don shows u how much a backstabber and a liar gruden is , wonder if kirk starts pressing behind theese comments , even though what gruden said wasnt as nearly as ruthless as his comments about #10 somewhere in ashburn RG3 has a smirk on his face

  9. Mr.moneylover - Dec 8, 2015 at 6:17 PM

    The redskins also ran some no huddle and hurry up offense against the giants and Kirk cousins got into a groove they did the complete opposite against dallas …I agree with Clinton portis they use a play that work once and never use it again for the rest of the game instead making the defense stop what you tryna do…

  10. goback2rfk - Dec 8, 2015 at 6:20 PM

    Hopkins had a bad game. Missed a huge field goal in the 4th. Then left it short on that final kick off.
    Forbaith would have never missed that FG.

    • bangkokben - Dec 8, 2015 at 10:26 PM

      Hysterical. You mean he had a Forbath game. Didn’t Kai miss a similar one in game one? And was that kick off miss hit, poor execution, or design – trying to run some clock off but pin them deep. I seem to remember Gano often kicking short just after making a field goal too.

  11. Hal tillow - Dec 8, 2015 at 6:27 PM

    the reason the run isn’t working is because no team fears cousins.just like super bowl 9 Miami stuffed Larry brown and made Kilmer win it, he couldn’t and neither can cousins.

  12. JOHNNY B - Dec 8, 2015 at 8:02 PM

    I see Alf testing free agency and taking an offer somewhere else. I also see Cousins doing the same. Weather it’s Gruden or McVey who ever decides what plays to call and when needs to go back to school. Stop being so predictable and spend some time in the film room yourselves. The plays are drawn up right just not implemented properly. So until the coaches realize their flaws we will not win a meaningful game. Cousins has potential but needs stability to grow and our coaches are not giving it to him. So I see him going to find a real coach. Hello Dallas.

    • greed - Dec 9, 2015 at 12:31 PM

      i agree about ALF i.e. Remember Stephen davis , went on to carolina and be2me panther leading rusher but not givin kirk stability what dahell u saying he flat out said this kirk’s team for 16 games and hasnt waivered since benching rg3 making him 3string so kirk would feel no pressure , he never rupported RG3 period infact when griffin injured his ankle and kirk came in against the sorry jaguars and lit them up gruden said then if cousins played well then their was no gaurantee when robert came bk he would regain his job , then after rehabing for 2mnths not practing instead of leaning on rungame easing rg bk gruden goes pass happy rg take a beating beind a horrible o-line replaces him with mcoy after a public berrating who got beatdown himself -the only qb he ever supported was and is cousins /grudens a joke a liar and backstabber ask ALF0D D.YOUNG

  13. goback2rfk - Dec 8, 2015 at 11:25 PM

    Im with Rich on this one. Air that puppy out. Lets see what Cousins does when he is forced into throwing into tight windows. Right now this Kansas City Chiefs style offense is not getting it done. Why not go deep multiple times to Desean? More than 2 or 3 times a game. They need to target Jackson the most throughout the game. He has a TD reception in multiple games in a row. He wants to be a part of the offense let the man have the dammn ball.

  14. Skulb - Dec 9, 2015 at 3:20 AM

    If they are going to run the ball they must find another TE somewhere. We now have one TE and he can’t block without drawing holding penalties. You’re not fooling anyone with Ty Nsekhe impersonating a TE. Archives

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