For three weeks to open the 2016 season Jay Gruden and Sean McVay talked about trying to balance the Redskins running attack with their passing game.
The results were middling, but the trend was clear: Washington's coaches and playcallers were making a more concerted effort to run the ball.
Sunday in a win against Cleveland Gruden and McVay held true to their word, and for the first time this season, balanced their offense nearly perfectly.
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The Redskins ran the ball 26 times on Sunday, with Matt Jones getting 22 carries, compared to 27 pass attempts from QB Kirk Cousins. That balance showed best late in the game, when for the second week in a row the Redskins used the power of Jones' legs to ice away a victory.
"I’m a workhorse, so in fourth quarters, that’s where I like to pick most of my yards," Jones said Sunday. "I guess they were tired of tackling and stuff like that, so when you get in the fourth quarters, it’s a grind."
For the Redskins, getting the pass attempts and rush attempts nearly even had not happened at all this season. The closest the team got was in last week's win in New York, though Cousins still threw five more passes than runs called.
In losses to Dallas and Pittsburgh to open the year, the run/pass ratio was way out of wack. Against the Cowboys, Cousins threw the ball 46 times while the team ran just 17 attempts. Against the Steelers, Cousins threw the ball 43 times and the team ran just 12 attempts.
Looking back even further at the Redskins offensive history, the last time the team got so close to achieving run/pass balance came Dec. 20, 2015 in a win over the Bills. That game Cousins threw the ball 28 times and the Washington runners got 27 attempts. In the team's playoff loss to Green Bay last season, the Redskins ran the ball just 16 times compared to 46 passes thrown.
"It’s hard for a running back to get into the flow of the game with six attempts," Gruden said Sunday. "With the type of game that we had today, we were able to give him more carries. He did a good job and took advantage of it."
In consecutive weeks Redskins have found a recipe for wins - running with Jones in the fourth quarter. The key going forward will be sticking with it.