ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins' run game produced a 230-yard day against Philadelphia But that led to a big question this week: Will it continue? Time to explore why it might -- 230 yards is a bit much to repeat, but consistent success is not.
— Timothy Tribbett,DVM (@tntDVM) October 21, 2016
John Keim: The Eagles’ defense helped, but it’s not as if every team was running on Philadelphia. The Eagles were 12th overall in yards per carry before the game (afterward, they sunk to 29th). But, yes, their style can lend itself to getting gashed on occasion. It’s the weakness of the wide-nine look, and the Redskins took advantage.
But I have felt since the summer that Washington’s run game would be better than last season, and I’ve seen no reason to alter that opinion. I don’t view it as great, because they need to be more consistent. But, yes, I think they can continue having success. Detroit, for example, is 27th in yards per carry allowed.
The Redskins have sandwiched two good games (Cleveland and Philadelphia) with one bad (Baltimore). The Ravens' big front was going to make it tough for them to run.
But the reason I thought it would go better for them this season has been on display through six games. The offensive line was young and jumbled last season because of injuries. When you draft a lot of linemen over a short period, there will be some growing pains. That’s the tough part about drafting/developing. It requires patience, instead of people screaming for jobs if a guy isn’t a Pro Bowler in Year 1 or 2.
So: Brandon Scherff has developed into a solid guard in Year 2. Shawn Lauvao is back, and though he’s had some inconsistencies, they’re better with him at left guard. Trent Williams is Trent Williams and Morgan Moses has improved. Moses and Scherff were first-time starters last season; progression is natural. And nobody works more than the offensive line group under coach Bill Callahan. Again, progression should be the result.
But it wasn’t just about the line. I thought the tight end blocking would be better with Vernon Davis around. He hasn’t made every block, but he’s been an improvement. On one run last week he blocked a linebacker, then headed to a defensive back; both blocks cleared a path. Niles Paul has helped at times, but he’s only playing about 15 snaps a game, so it’s been minimal. Still, I thought this would be another reason for improvement.
And then there’s Matt Jones. Sometimes I start to get sold on him, and then see the shuffle steps. I wish he could cut a little more like Rob Kelley, who wastes no movement. But Jones has clearly run better at times and has taken advantage of good holes. When he’s decisive, he runs well and it’s helpful that he’s getting more carries. He’s the sort of back who needs to get a good feel for a game first.
Of the Redskins’ last 10 games, four are against defenses that rank in the top 10 in yards per carry allowed: Green Bay (first), Carolina (third), New York Giants (sixth) and Minnesota (eighth). They have four games against defenses ranked 20th or worse in this category: Cincinnati (20th), Dallas (23), Detroit (27) and Philadelphia (29).
The point is, there are multiple reasons to believe the run game should continue to be a factor for the Redskins. Every week? Not sure yet. They’re a better offense when they stay committed to the run.