Redskins have a 'very outside' chance after loss
The Washington Redskins are on pace to rush fewer times for fewer yards than they did in 2012. That will come as no surprise to anybody who has been following the team. But some might not expect to see how small the difference is between this year and last and who is getting fewer carries and fewer yards.
In 2012 the Redskins ran the ball 521 times for a league-leading 2,711 yards. If they continue their pace they have established thorough the first nine games this year (269 att., 1362 yards) they will wind up with 478 attempts for 2,241 yards. That’s a drop off of 2.7 carries per game and about 18 fewer yards per game.
We can’t really determine if having fewer rushing attempts is by design or due to other factors. A good chunk of the decrease in carries comes from Robert Griffin III running the ball less. Last year Griffin ran 120 times for 815 yards. This year he is on pace to run 100 times (1.3 fewer per game) for 535 yards (17.5 fewer per game). That decrease is due to a combination of factors including his recovery from reconstructive knee surgery and concern over the punishment he took in the running game last year.
In fact, the running backs are running almost as much as they did last year and a bit more effectively. Alfred Morris’ stat line is projected to drop for 335 att/1,613 yards to 283/1,467. But second back Roy Helu Jr. is on pace for 71/304 while Evan Royster, Morris’ backup last year, carried just 23 times for 88 yards on 2012.
As a group, Morris, Helu, Royster, and fullback Darrel Young carried 374 times for 1,763 yards (4.7 yards/carry) in 2012. This year their stats project to 368 carries for 1,826 yards (5.0 yards/carry). That’s about half a carry less per game and an increase of about four yards per game.
Should Kyle Shanahan run the ball more? When you’re 3-6 you have to look at everything and if you are among the best in the league in something (they led the NFL in yards/rushing attempt), you should consider doing more of that and less of options that aren’t working so well (they are 21st in the league in passer rating). And when you have double-digit leads in the second halves of three consecutive games and you blow all three leads and lost two of the games perhaps it would have been better to consume some of the clock with a few more running plays here and there.
On the other hand you do have to look at a defense that is ranked 27th in yards given up and 31st in points yielded (special teams play a role in that number, too) and at the fact that the Redskins have trailed by double digits in the second half of six of their nine games. The faced such deficits just four times in the entire 2012 season. It’s one thing to draw up a plan for how you’d like to call games in August. It’s quite another when you’re down 31-0 in the third quarter at Lambeau Field in September.