Senior writer Chris Russell is using the bye week for a seven week review of the Washington Redskins. After noting the early surprises, the focus shifts to the concerns
1 – Injuries and Depth - It started in training camp and hasn’t really stopped. Before the Redskins had even completed one preseason game, Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen were done for the year.
Junior Galette blew his Achilles out before he could play his first game with the Burgundy and Gold.
Adam Hayward, the Redskins special teams captain was lost for the season with a torn ACL in August. Rookie Martrell Spaight and running back Silas Redd were all done as well before things got going for real.
In the first regular season game of the year, Washington lost starting strong safety Duke Ihenacho for the season. DeSean Jackson was lost on the second series of that game for the entire first half of the schedule and he’s far from a sure thing to return against the Patriots.
Week three featured a season ending injury to their most improved offensive lineman, Shawn Lauvao and a toe sprain for DeAngelo Hall that still has him out of action.
Chris Culliver labored through one game and sat out the last three with a knee injury. Tight end Jordan Reed missed two games while center Kory Lichtensteiger missed the last two. Trent Williams returned Sunday after sitting out the Jets loss due to a concussion. Against the Bucs, Washington lost Ryan Kerrigan in the first quarter and Bashaud Breeland in the final minutes with a hamstring injury.
You get the point. A team that was short on depth and starved for talent even after Scot McCloughan worked some of his magic, has to catch some luck in the 2nd half of the season.
2 – Run Defense – The Redskins went to Atlanta three weeks ago with the number two ranked run defense in the NFL in rushing yards per game allowed.
Since that point, they’ve yielded 176, 221 and 190 rushing yards against Atlanta, the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They now rank 26th in that category and 30th in rushing yards per play.
One huge problem? Tackling. The Redskins aren’t very good at it.
3 – Rushing Offense – This has been a real sore spot since the week three loss to the Giants when they lost Lauvao for the year. Sometimes it has been a lack of holes, as it appeared based on a first half coaches tape review it was.
Other times it has been Alfred Morris running directly into tacklers with no ability to make them miss or missing a significant cutback lane against the Jets.
There’s also been a lack of overall commitment to the rushing attack because of a bevy of negative or no-gain plays.
The Redskins ran the ball 37 times in each of their first two games. Since then, the only game above 30 was 32 attempts in a win over Philadelphia and in three games they’ve attempted 20 or fewer rushing attempts.
In order for the Redskins even to have a chance against high octane, tempo offenses like New England and New Orleans after the bye, they are going to have to sacrifice success for the overall benefits of running frequently.
Time of possession, rest for your defense, stress on an opposing defense and the ability to run play-action, boot-action and read-option are all the fruits of a true commitment.