The Redskins ran the ball on only 12 of their 59 offensive plays against the Panthers on Sunday. Lead back Rob Kelley had just nine carries and the leading rusher was quarterback Kirk Cousins, who had 12 yards on one carry (these stats exclude the Cousins kneel down at the end of the first half).
But while there was plenty of negative material for fans and members of the media to rehash after the game, the 20 percent to 80 percent run-pass ratio was not high on anyone’s list. That’s because anyone who watched the game could see that running was futile.
While many don’t take what Jay Gruden has to say after games with a lot more passes than runs at face value, I think most bought what he said to the media in a conference call on Tuesday.
“It was a problem [on Monday night], and as an offensive coordinator, when you’re calling plays, and you call a running play that’s a gain of one or a loss of one and the back is hit before he even gets the ball in his hands, it’s hard to call another run,” said Gruden.
The good news is that it shouldn’t be as hard to call another run when they play the Bears on Saturday. The Panthers are top 10 against the run almost any way you want to measure it. By those same metrics, the Bears are a bottom 10 unit. They are 23rd in rushing yards allowed and 20th in average per rush allowed. The number crunchers at Football Outsiders have them ranked 27th in rushing defense DVOA.
While is good to know that the defense should be hospitable to running the ball, the weather should be good for doing anything on offense. The forecast calls for temperatures in the 30’s with minimal wind. The Bears are just OK against the pass (14th in pass defense DVOA) so running to set up the pass should be the game plan.
Back to the Panthers game, the Redskins need to get to where they don’t have games like that. Two of their offensive linemen are going to the Pro Bowl. Besides the Carolina game they had games where they put up 55 (Steelers), 60 (Ravens), and 56 (@ Cowboys) rushing yards. Those three teams are in the top 10 in rushing defense DVOA as are the Panthers but the Redskins can’t simply give up on the run for a quarter of their schedule because the other defense is tough.
That’s easier said than done but until the Redskins can go into any game with a realistic shot at putting up at least 80-100 yards on the ground they won’t get to where they want to be.