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.