Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, November 1, four days before the Washington Redskins go to Seattle to play the Seahawks.
Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences, open locker room after practice, approx. 3 p.m.
—Vikings @ Redskins (11/12) 11
—Redskins @ Saints (11/9) 18
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 22
Ground game needs to get going for the Redskins to win
Against the Cowboys, for the second straight game, the Redskins made their ground game an afterthought. And for the second straight game, they lost.
Against the Eagles last week, they had 18 rushing attempts for 75 yards. And on Sunday against the Cowboys, they ran the ball just 15 times for 49 yards, an average of 3.3 yards per carry. Starting running back Rob Kelley had eight carries for 19 yards while Chris Thompson had four for 18.
Doing the math, that is a total of 33 rushing attempts in two weeks. In perhaps their best game of the season, against the Rams in Week 2, they ran 39 times. If the win in LA wasn’t their best of the season, then it was the following week against the Raiders when they ran 34 times.
Neither of the last two games ever got to the point where the run game had to be abandoned except for a few stretches here and there. To be sure, there were some reasons in each game for the Redskins to not try to hand the ball off 30 times. The Eagles run a Wide 9 defensive set that is hard to run against; they are the NFL’s leading rushing defense. And against the Cowboys the Redskins were working without three of their five starting offensive linemen, making it difficult to do much in the way of intricate run blocking.
That’s all well and good. But under Jay Gruden, the Redskins are now 3-21 in games where the run for fewer than 90 yards. Until they find a way to run when other teams are lined up to stop it or learn to win games when they can’t run the ball, the Redskins will continue to struggle to become a consistent playoff contender.
The Redskins may have an opportunity to run the ball this week in Seattle. Their defense is not as stout as it once was. They are 20th in rushing yards allowed per game. They have allowed over 80 yards on the ground in six of their seven games and 140 or more three times.
To be sure, the success of the running game may hinge on the health of the offensive line. But dropping back to pass 42 times like the Redskins did against Dallas isn’t exactly a formula for success
Note: I tweeted out the 3-21 stat a couple of days ago. I got some pushback saying that the stat is often misleading because it can confuse cause and effect. Teams with the lead late in the game will run the ball to try to kill the clock. Yes, that dynamic may be in effect for the Redskins sometimes. But it helps a lot for the Redskins to get started on the ground early. Since the start of the 2015 season, they are 7-13 in games where they don’t have at least 45 yards rushing by halftime. In that time span, they are 7-2 in games where they have at least 75 yards rushing at halftime. So, getting the rushing game going early and often is their recipe for success.
Tandler on Twitter
So all of a sudden the same scheme that had two 1000-yard WR’s and a near 5000-yard QB last year can’t get receivers open?— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) October 31, 2017
In case you missed it
- Redskins have needs but unlikely to make deal before deadline
- In need of depth, Redskins sign former Super Bowl-winning DL
- With Ajayi in and Elliott maybe out, big RB shakeup in NFC East
- Setting the odds on Kirk Cousins' future after the Garoppolo trade