In 2015, the rushing game was a problem for the Redskins, on both sides of the ball. On offense they gained 97.9 yards per game, a mediocre 20th in the NFL. They gave up 122.6 per game, 26th in the league.
Doing the math, they were outgained on the ground by 24.7 yards per game. It’s tough to win with a negative differential like that and it took a sizzling hot passing game led by Kirk Cousins for the Redskins to pull off a 9-7 record and get to the playoffs.
The Redskins are better both running the ball and stopping the run this year. The improvement in both categories has been modest but significant. On offense they have improved to 109.3 rushing yards per game. That puts them in a tie for 12th. That doesn’t exactly evoke visions of Riggo and the Hogs pounding opponents into submission but it still isn’t bad.
Defensively they have shaved nearly 10 yards off of their per-game average from last year. They are giving up an average of 112.8 per game, good for 22nd in the NFL. Again, that is not where they want to be. But considering that virtually no personnel assets were added during the offseason to help bolster the rushing game that’s not bad.
Their differential is still in negative territory but only to the tune of 3.5 yards.
A good goal for the Redskins next year would be to reverse the stats that they had in 2015 and rush for 120 yards per game and allow under 100. That would put them in the top 10 in both rushing offense and defense. They probably can accomplish that on offense by simply committing to running the ball when it is working and the game situation permits.
It will be harder to improve the rushing defense. That will require revamping the defensive front and then getting the new players to gel in the system. It’s not an instant fix but the Redskins do need to get the process started.