There are many reasons why the Redskins offense failed to meet expectations this year. You could point the finger at the short-comings of Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy, all who failed to take the starting quarterback job and run with it. You could point the finger at the pass blocking of the offensive line if you'd like. I won't try and discredit those reasons, but the Redskins biggest offensive issue all season long was their inability to run on early downs. A good run game makes it easier on the quarterback, opens up the play-action game, and tires out a defense. I'm going to use the Dallas game as an example but it was a constant theme all season long. Let's take a look...
1. Here is a Stretch Right out of I-formation.
The edge is set on the outside by the Logan Paulsen block so Alfred Morris has to cut it up. Tom Compton gets to the end level and seals Bruce Carter inside. The hole is between Paulsen and Chris Chester but Chester is getting pushed back.
The second level is sealed and Darrel Young is coming up to block J.J. Wilcox but Morris never gets to that level as the defender sheds Chis Chester and it goes down as a gain of 1.
2. Here is a Draw play from shotgun with Niles Paul pulling across the formation for a kick-out block.
Niles Paul does his job on the kick-out block, Trent Williams gets to the 2nd level and occupies the LB, and Shawn Lauvao also releases to seal the LB inside giving a huge lane for Roy Helu.
But Roy Helu trips in the backfield and is touched down at the line.
3. Here is a Stretch Right out of Pistol Right. Notice the DT is going to jump into the A-gap right off the snap.
Tom Compton helps double the DE but he's suppose to release to the 2nd level. He waits too long leaving a large gap for Bruce Carter to shoot through.
Compton tries to reach back but it does nothing. Bruce Carter meets Morris in the backfield.
4. Here's a Sweep Left out of I-Left.
Shawn Lauvao passes on his block to Kory Lichtensteiger who just doesn't have the balance or leverage to take on a defender at this angle and the outside contain breaks free from Logan Paulsen.
Meanwhile, the rest of the offensive line and defense all enclose Alfred Morris in here. This actually turns into a 4 yard gain (largest on 1st down of the game) because they all pile together like a rugby scrum and Morris can't fall forward.
5. Jay Gruden and Sean McVay go into their bag of tricks to finally get a respectable 1st down gain on the ground. It's a Toss right out of Strong I-Right with DeSean Jackson coming across on the fake reverse motion. Logan Paulsen is the only block that stays frontside. The rest of the line makes their blocks and heads left to further strengthen the fake reverse.
The fake action freezes two Dallas defenders and Logan Paulsen gets enough of a block to free Helu to the outside.
After breaking the two tackles indicated, Helu finishes with a gain of 14. Largest gain, but again, trickery involved.
6. Here's a short pitch Counter from I-Left.
Darrel Young cuts back inside as Lichtensteiger washes DL down and Morris follows him. A decent lane has opened up.
D.Young gets to the second level but he and Chris Chester get pushed back into the whole and sandwich Morris who only gains 4.
7. Redskins now try a Weak Sweep Right out of Singleback Twin TE Left.
This play is blocked up really well downfield and it opens a huge lane but Tom Compton gets pushed so far in the backfield. Morris expects Compton to gain his footing so he can get around the corner but doesn't. Morris should have cut it up field much sooner.
Morris eventually heads upfield but the gain should have been much bigger. He only ends up with 4 yards here.
Check back for Part 2 later this week.