Three issues with the Washington Redskins running game -- and none involve the current timeshare

Remember when the Redskins running game ruled the league? Not so much the last three weeks. We examine the reasons.

That's me in the video above talking about the Redskins running game woes on #ScoutNow. Now, some other notes just to flesh out the story.

  • Not all hands on deck: Shawn Lauvao isn't the next Russ Grimm, but the downturn clearly occurred when the starting left guard suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 3. The Redskins rushed for 343 yards in the first two games and just 266 over the next three weeks on 76 carries. That works out to a 3.5 yards per crry average and that's even pushed up by long Chris Thompson scamper in Week 4. This doesn't mean everything is the fault of Spencer Long, Lauvao's replacement, but rather notes the delicate nature of the offensive line overall. The unit exceeded expctations early on, but cannot afford a missing piece considering the lack of proven Pro Bowl talent besides Trent Williams.

  • Bad start: Dealing with second-and-long scenarios puts any offense in something of a box and that goes double for a team playing without all their weapons. Against the Falcons, the Redskins ran the ball 10 times with either Alfred Morris or Matt Jones on their first 12 1st-and-down scenarios. The results: -2, 0, 0, 0, 0, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2. There was also a no-gainer from Jamison Crowder mixed in. Harder to keep the ball on the ground when the first attempt goes nowhere. Also harder to run when the opponent senses you're going to run the ball on first down. 5

  • Tougher opponents: Obviously how the Redskins fared in these matchups plays a factor with any league-wide rankings considering so few games have been played. That said, Washington' last three opponents -- Atlanta, Philadelpha, New York Giants -- enter Week 6 ranked first, second and 10th against the run. Miami, Washington's Week 1 foe, is allowing the most rushing yards per game. 

  • Receiving message clearly: With Jordan Reed on the field against the Eagles, Morris received 17 carries. Without the tight end in the lineup against the Falcons, Morris received only 14 snaps. That's likely not a coincidence. Washington needed as many receiving threats on the field as possible, especially when facing those long down-and-distance scenarios. That means more Jones and Thompson, who led the running backs in snaps by a wide margin. 

  • As someone who grew up on the Riggo Drill, I get the idea of running backs finding a rhythm with more touches. Maybe the Redskins can revert to such thinking when DeSean Jackson returns from injury to provide a deep ball threat or Reed adds another dimension. Then again, we haven't seen the post-Lauvao line create as many opportunities.

Ben Standig is the Publisher of Breaking Burgundy. You can find him on Twitter @benstandig and on Google+

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