Coaches talk all the time about what needs to happen for their teams to be successful. Countless words get transcribed as coaches lay out their keys to success.
Jay Gruden doesn’t need multiple paragraphs to say what his Redskins need to do to win. On Wednesday, he laid it out in about 100 characters.
He was asked about the Eagles’ defense and Gruden lavished praise on defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s scheme and the players operating in it. Then, at the end, he said this:
“The key for us is to, like I said, stay multi-dimensional. One-dimensional and we’ll be in trouble.”
He was speaking about the upcoming game but he could have been talking about his entire tenure as the Redskins’ head coach. If the Redskins can run the ball they have a much better chance of winning.
The magic number of yards they need to have a good shot at winning is somewhere around 90. In Gruden’s three seasons in Washington, his team is 2-20 when they gain fewer than 90 yards on the ground. When they get 90 or more, they are 17-8-1.
The common response here is that of course, they win more wins when they rush for more yardage because they run the ball late to protect a lead. There is some element of truth there. But the Redskins seem to need more than just piling up fourth-quarter rushing yards in order to win.
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Last year in their eight wins, the Redskins gained 490 yards on the ground, averaging 4.8 yards per carry in the first half. They rushed for 234 yards in the first halves of their seven losses with an average of 3.7 yards per carry.
Make no mistake, late-game rushing is a good indicator of success as well. In 2016 the Redskins ran for 446 yards (6.4 average) in the fourth quarters of wins and 118 (4.62 average) in the final 15 minutes of losses.
If this pattern holds true this year, you will have a pretty good indicator of how the team will do at halftime of each game. If you look at the stats and they have at least 50 or 60 yards rushing there is a good chance you will be celebrating when the clock hits 0:00. Should the stat sheet say they have 30 yards or fewer on the ground, you might want to go rake leaves in the second half.