LOS ANGELES—You have read plenty about the Redskins’ big day running the ball against the Rams. And their inability to run in the season opener against the Eagles also has been well documented.
But you probably have not seen much about the Redskins’ ability to stop the run so far in this young season. The defense got that aspect of the job done in both games this year.
In the small sample size of two games, the Redskins have given up an average of 75 yards per game. That ranks ninth in the NFL. In 2016, they gave up an average of 119.8 per game, 24th in the league. Looking at yards per carry, the average this year is 3.3 (13th) compared to 4.5 last year (27th).
The Redskins made some personnel changes in their front seven to try to correct the run-stopping issues. Three new defensive linemen, top draft pick Jonathan Allen and free agents Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain, have help solidify the line along with vastly improved play by second-year player Matt Ioannidis.
The main change at linebacker was the addition of free agent Zach Brown, who has 15 tackles and covers the field from sideline to sideline. Holdover Mason Foster has continued his solid play from last year with 11 tackles.
MORE REDSKINS: REDSKINS VS. RAMS BY THE NUMBERS
Sunday, another big factor in the Redskins’ ability to slow down the Rams’ rushing attack was the aforementioned success the offense had on the ground. That helped the Redskins build a time of possession advantage of 36:19 to 23:41 for the Rams. Washington ran 68 offensive plays and the home team just 49.
Piling up advantages like those keeps the defense rested on the sideline.
“You keep your defense fresh, we’ll have a lot better chance than when our defense is on the field all day,” said Jay Gruden.
Left tackle Trent Williams likes looking up and seeing the clock winding down as they drive down the field.
“The more first downs you get, the more the clock starts ticking,” said Williams.
While it is a passing league, any coach will tell you that the ability to run and ball and to stop the run are the keys to success. If the offense can move the ball on the ground it’s a shorter day for the defense. If the defense can limit the running game the offense has more time to work. The dynamic worked well against the Rams and if the Redskins can keep it up they will be in very good shape.