The last two off-seasons, three including this one, many fans of the Redskins have been saying “Washington needs to commit more to the ground game.” For me, a successful and efficient ground attack begins with a mentality that displays how valuable a run game is. Whether or not a team approaches a game like the Buffalo Bills, who are a run-first team, or a team like the Detroit Lions, who are a pass-first team, the run game should be valued for a multitude of reasons. For those reasons alone is why Washington has had spurts of ineptitude offensively over a three-year span (not including the first-year debacle under head coach Jay Gruden).
Gruden is a prolific strategist when picking apart a defense through the air. However, even with one of the best offensive lines and offensive line coaches in the game, running the football and efficiently blocking is not viewed as a priority. Now, there is no doubt it is not that black and white when describing the failures on the ground. Occasionally there can be a missed assignment, an audible running to the wrong side, the blocking was there but the running back missed the lane, or the running back had an opportunity if only a player did not miss an assignment. The point was, it is not always “Jay Gruden does not like running the football,” he tries, it is just merely nowhere near good enough.
One of the reasons why the run game should be valued is because a one-dimensional offense in a league that has a plethora of skilled pass-rushers causes havoc for an offense. Another is also having the ability to move the chains in critical situations. That could mean being able to gain a yard by running the ball up the gut or being able to thrive in misdirection which gets defenders out of position. The Redskins have often shown the inability to take control of the line of scrimmage, terrible communication on blocking assignments, and even disinterest in blocking for running backs from some players.
To close out games, it does not come down to one’s ability to draw up a great pass-play, when only a couple of yards are needed. One must identify which side of the defense to exploit, whom to trust on the offensive line, and run the ball behind them. You also need to invest appropriately into the running back position, mediocre talent at the position is not a successful formula to be a respectable rushing offense. With that being said, Chris Thompson quite frankly, should not be the best running back on the roster. Thompson can be an all-purpose weapon, but not your best running back, and Jay Gruden needs to emphasize finding a true number one guy.
This upcoming draft has a deep class of talent at the running back position, and plenty of capable backs that can be the primary ball carrier. However, if Washington chooses a different route that shows their continued lack of interest in finding a good running back, or even improving the blocking up front, do not expect the Redskins to go deep into January. If they even make it past week 17.
What is the biggest issue to you when assessing the ground game? Comment and get in on the conversation below.