September 20, 2010

Where's The Run Game For The Redskins?

My bi-weekly column for SB Nation DC

Sep 20, 2010 - Seventeen attempts. Eighteen yards.
Those were the rushing totals for the Redskins on Sunday in their 30-27 overtime loss to the Houston Texans. Washington averaged 1.1 yards per carry in a putrid performance on the ground, which Mike Shanahan, Clinton Portis and company would clearly like to forget.
While Donovan McNabb was airing it out en route to a 426-yard passing day, Portis found no daylight as he picked his way for 33 yards on 13 carries. The interior blocking was shaky all game long, failing to generate a surge up front and leaving Portis with little room to run.
Shanahan would like to remain committed to running the football, but he may have to get creative if he wants to do it successfully. The Redskins have run for 107 yards over the first two games this season, meaning they are averaging 53.5 yards rushing a game. You won't win football games that way, and the Redskins learned the hard way as they failed to control the clock in the second half, allowing the Texans to come back from a 17-point deficit and send the game to overtime.
The rushing attack was struggling so badly, the Redskins didn't even attempt a conventional running play while leading 27-20 with around five minutes remaining. They sandwiched a Santana Moss reverse in between two passes instead of trying to kill the clock with a power running game.
In the third quarter, on the Redskins last scoring drive, they ran the ball just once on a nine-play series. After Houston scored right back, Larry Johnson ran a stretch to the left, inexplicably changed direction a la Barry Sanders and was brought down for a loss of 10 on the play. Sanders, Johnson is not, and the backwards running cost the Redskins a chance to kill the clock with an extended possession.
However, Shanahan stuck to the run on the next Redskins possession, and Portis picked up 23 yards on four carries as the Redskins pushed it to the Houston five. Unfortunately, Jammal Brown made a major gaffe with a false start on third and one, costing the Redskins a chance to score a touchdown. The chip shot field goal attempt was blocked and you know the rest.
"Right now as an offense we are throwing the ball around; you just have to be patient," Portis said. "I think we just have to be consistent. We were picking up chunks, but we need to capitalize in the red zone because we can move the ball up and down the field."

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