Sunday’s game against the Bucs wasn’t just historic for the 24-point comeback. The Redskins rushed for just 50 yards and gave up 190 on the ground. In their history, the Redskins had never won a game when the rushed for 50 yards or fewer and gave up 190 or more on the ground. They were 0-20 until yesterday.
Yesterday’s game was a prime example of how things are not really going according to plan for the Redskins set out during the offseason. But so far the results are not too bad.
Two of the Redskins’ stated goals were to be able to run the ball and stop the run. They haven’t done either very well the last three weeks. But primarily by relying on Cousins’ passing to move the ball they won one game, lost another in overtime, and had a halftime lead in the other one.
The Redskins rushed for 343 yards in their first two games. In five games since then they have rushed for just 350 yards. They have gone over 100 yards rushing as a team just once, against the Eagles. And their rushing stats that game should come with an asterisk. Their first rushing attempt of the game was a Chris Thompson draw play good for 42 yards. After that they rushed 31 times for 84 yards, 2.7 yards per carry. So they didn’t exactly control the game on the ground.
Washington’s rushing defense was pretty solid up until the last three weeks. After going four weeks without allowing a team to rush for over 87 yards against them, they have seen Devonta Freeman (153 yards), Chris Ivory (146 yards), and Doug Martin (136 yards) go off on them. Those are three pretty good backs but nobody is going to confuse any of them with Adrian Peterson on a good day.
But they have managed to stay mostly competitive with Kirk Cousins throwing at least 40 passes in four of the last five games. Again, that was not how things were supposed to work. An ideal game as drawn up before the season started would have Cousins passing about 25 times and handing off 35 times. But with Cousins going to the air 40 times or more, the Redskins are 2-2.
The Redskins are not about to abandon their intention to control the game while running the ball. And they certainly want to be able to keep opposing running backs from running roughshod over them all afternoon. But it’s good know that Cousins, Jordan Reed, Pierre Garçon, Jamison Crowder, and the rest of their pass catchers can give the Redskins a fighting chance if Plan A doesn’t work out.