Updated: May 9
The Evolution & Current State of the Run Game
Many Redskins fans have been clamoring for Washington to put more emphasis on the run game. Through the first three games Coach Gruden has obviously made a concerted effort to feature the run game in his offense. In the process, Gruden has relied on Alex Smith‘s knowledge to incorporate his exotic rush formations.
The NFL is a copy cat league and during Robert Griffin‘s time in Washington it was evident. The zone read packages employed by former Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan were duplicated around the league. The Shanahans weren’t the first to incorporate college run concepts into the pro game, but were extremely effective. The success led to a wildcard playoff birth for Washington and San Francisco made it to the Super Bowl with Colin Kapernick utilizing the zone read.
Fast forward to 2018 and the zone read is still utilized, but the RPO (run, pass option) is more prevalent. Gruden and the Redskins have taken a page from other’s playbooks when designing his modern run scheme. Gruden has always been lauded as a “pass first signal caller”, but his play-calling thus far has shown he’ll play to his new quarterback’s strengths.
As important as the offensive line is to the run game, the quarterback is equally important in Gruden’s scheme. The positive impact and production that the run game has created has allowed the Redskins to take early leads and hold on to them during their two victories.
Offense showing Versatility
Thus far the Redskins rush pass ratio has been ideal with 99 rushes, compared to 102 passing attempts on 201 total offensive plays. Early leads in the two Redskins wins have surely aided in stockpiling second half rush attempts, while playing the “keep the lead” game. The loss versus Indianapolis potentially gave teams a blueprint on how to bottle up Gruden’s offense, but Washington showed new wrinkles in the Green Bay win. Utilizing Peterson & Thompson out of shotgun formations has given the Redskins a way to keep defenses on their toes. Add in Alex Smith‘s ability to make plays with his feet and this team suddenly has an offense capable of imposing their will on the opposition.
The emergence of Adrian Peterson has undoubtedly been the number one reason for this teams success on offense. Many don’t think Peterson can continue to produce at his current pace, but All Day seems to have found the fountain of youth in Washington. It’s no coincidence that AP’s friend and former college teammate Trent Williams has been creating gaping holes for AP and Co to run through. Many fans would like to see the carries possibly divvied up between the other running backs and they just might get their wish as the season rolls on.
What to look for
As previously discussed, AP is imperative to the success of this team, but what about Chris Thompson? Thompson has been relatively quiet thus far, after breaking his leg versus New Orleans last year. Thompson has slowly been worked into the offensive flow this season with only 83 rushing yards on only 15 attempts. Gruden does continue to utilize CT in the passing game (20 rec 155 rec yards), but is reluctant to give him more than a few carries per game. With Peterson nursing a sprained ankle, Thompson’s workload should increase on Monday night. Although Peterson insists he’ll be active versus New Orleans, one has to wonder how much will fall on his shoulders. Bibbs also adds a different dimension to the run and pass game. Bibbs can be used in a variety of ways to keep defenses off balance, in a similar style to Thompson, so it’ll be interesting to see if he also has an increased workload.
Redskins offensive success hinges on the their run game. When things are moving on the ground, it usually leads to successful placation and deep shot opportunities for Washington. With tough match-ups ahead the Redskins and Gruden need to stay the course and continue to ride the run game’s success
Thanks for checking out another B&G Report. With all three NFC East divisional rivals suffering a loss and Redskins currently sitting atop the division, the Monday night clash versus New Orleans just got a whole lot more interesting!
By Adam Aniba
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