It has come to my attention that this Redskins offense is explosive. How explosive you ask? In the first two games of the season, the Redskins have had 11 plays of at least 20 yards, and two plays of at least 40 yards. Last year the team had 67 total plays of 20 yards or more, and seven plays of over 40 yards. We also have the longest offensive play from scrimmage in the NFL this season; an 88 yard touchdown to Garcon in the opening week against the Saints.
So with these explosive play-makers all over the field offensively for the Redskins, why is our most explosive running back being used as a situational player?
Roy Helu came to the Redskins as a fourth round pick out of Nebraska. As a Cornhusker, Helu was a team captain(2010), team offensive MVP(2009, 2010), and second team All-Big 12(2010), all while compiling back-to-back 1000+ yard seasons, and double digit touchdowns. He carried the ball over 200 times as a junior, and averaged over 6.0 yards per carry his final two season for Big Red.
Helu entered the 2011 NFL combine with little hype, but left with much fanfare. He tore up Indy, posting a 4.40 second 40-yard dash, with a blazing 1.51 10-yard split, a 36 1/2 inch vertical jump, and 9-11 in the broad jump. Even more impressive were the numbers Helu put up in the three-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle.
The three-cone drill tests a player’s ability to change directions quickly at a high speed while maintaining balance and continuing to accelerate during high-speed turns. Players are asked to showcase those skills while weaving multiple times through three cones set up in an L shape. Helu posted a blistering 6.67 in this drill. To put this into perspective, Florida's Chris Rainey posted a 6.50 in the 2012 combine; the best number a running back has posted since 2005. Helu posted a 4.01 and a 11.07 in the 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle respectively. Over the same seven year span, these numbers by a running back prospect were second only to...............yeah, you guessed it, Chris Rainey(2012).
So what does this all mean?
Well, at almost 6'0" and close to 220 pounds, with exceptional speed, and even better quickness and change of direction skills, Roy Helu is an offensive weapon we can't afford to have sitting on our bench. As a Rookie in 2011, while splitting time with Tim Hightower, Evan Royster and Ryan Torain, Helu led the team in rushing with 640 yards on 151 attempts(a 4.2 YPC average). He added 49 receptions for 379 yards and one touchdown(although 13 of those receptions did come in one game from John Beck). He averaged six yards every time he got his hands on the football. In comparison, DeMarco Murray, a second-year running back for the Dallas Cowboys, who has roughly the same size and speed measurables as Helu, rushed 164 times as a rookie in 2011, and gained 897 yards. He caught 26 passes for 183 yards. Murray averaged just over six yards every time he got his hands on the football. Both men scored two rushing touchdowns as rookies, and each had a fumble.
Murray has went on to become the primary running back in Jason Garrett's system, while Helu is playing second fiddle to the lumbering rookie Alfred Morris. Is Mike Shanahan's reluctance to have a bell-cow back hurting the big-play ability that Helu could bring to this offense? One would have to wonder why you would stash a competent blocking, speed-demon, hurdling, hands-of-glue offensive weapon like Roy Helu on the bench with such an array of offensive fire-power around him. He could only make an already dangerous offense that much more dangerous.
I can only think that ole' Mike is stroking his own ego yet again, but trying to prove that running backs can be found anywhere in the draft by the genius that is "Shanahan".
Open your eyes Mike! You may have found your goaline/short-yardage back in Morris, but the game-changer we have lacked for so long at running back is staring you right in the face. Now's the time to make your deadly offensive attack even more potent.