By Steve Shoup, special to Breaking Burgundy
Through the first eight games of the season the Redskins is one of the worst in the league allowing on average 132.5 yards per game. Unfortunately even that number is off as they started the year strong allowing just 312 yards (78 per game) over the first four weeks. Since then they’ve allowed a staggering 748 yards or 187 per game. That is more than twice the average of the first four weeks of the season, and looking ahead at their schedule the run defense’s job isn’t going to get any easier.
New Orleans Saints: Current rushing rank: 25th at 95 ypg
-On paper this might look like an easy match-up, but the Saints rushing offense overall is limited due to their number of attempts and poor play from the back-ups. Starter Mark Ingram has been solid this year averaging 4.2 yards per carry, on 15.6 attempts per game. Ingram is having a good year and definitely poses a solid threat to this defense, particularly if he sees 20+ carries.
Carolina Panthers: Current rushing rank: T-1st at 142.3 ypg
-This is clearly an extremely tough match-up as the Panthers are maybe the best rushing attack in the NFL and this game will be played in Carolina. Running back Jonathan Stewart is averaging 71 yards rushing per game this season. His 3.9 ypc average is low, but that is partially due to him running the ball late in games as the Panthers salt away the clock. Stewart isn’t the Panthers only weapon of course as Cam Newton is having another strong year rushing, with 343 yards in Carolina’s first 8 games. This match-up is going to be extremely tough for the Redskins and if they don’t shape up it could be a record setting day for the run happy Panthers.
New York Giants: Current rushing rank: 24th at 96.7 ypg
This is the one game where the Redskins run defense really shouldn’t give up 100 yards on the ground as the Giants have not shown the ability to have a strong rushing attack this year. They’ve topped the 100 yard mark just twice this year, and managed only 84 yards rushing versus the Redskins week 3 in a blowout win at home. Unlike the Saints, who as a team struggle running the football, the Giants lack a primary back who is capable of taking the game over. If the Redskins at home can’t stop the Giants rushing offense they won’t be able to stop anyone.
Dallas Cowboys: Current rushing rank: 8th at 128.4 ypg
The Cowboys behind their elite offensive line once again have a top 10 rushing attack in the NFL, and they pose a major challenge to the Redskins who face them twice in the 2nd half of the season. Darren McFadden has revitalized his career since taking over as the starting back 3 weeks ago, with 333 yards rushing. What’s more is that with the return of Tony Romo, teams won’t be able to stack the box versus the Cowboys going forward, making it even tougher to stop this attack. If Romo is back as expected and McFadden stays healthy these are going to be two really tough match-ups for the Redskins run defense.
Chicago Bears: Current rushing rank: 16th at 109.8 ypg
Matt Forte is having another good year with 548 yards in 7 games, and he’s expected to be healthy again when the Redskins face them. He’s a talented runner who gave the Redskins problems the last time they met in 2013. His back-up, rookie Jeremy Langford had a solid performance in relief of Forte versus the Chargers, and he could be coming into his own as well. By the time the Redskins face them, Forte and Langford could be a strong 1-2 punch, more than capable of exploiting the Redskins weak run defense.In a home game against another struggling team the Redskins can’t afford to allow them to be successful on the ground.
Buffalo Bills: Current rushing rank: T-1st at 142.3 ypg
The Bills have probably the most dangerous rushing attack in the NFL as they present a three-headed monster, led by former Eagle LeSean McCoy. McCoy has missed two games this season and has been limited in multiple other ones, yet he still has 528 yards on 113 carries (4.7 ypc average) on the year. He now has back-to-back 100 yard games on fewer than 20 carries per game. His back-up Karlos Williams has had a great rookie year and is averaging a ridiculous 6.2 yards on 58 attempts this season in six games. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor is a rushing threat as well and has 243 yards on 47 carries in seven games. The scariest thought about the Bills rushing attack is it could be even better than it appears on paper. All three of their top threats have missed significant time this season, and if they were healthy it’s likely the Bills numbers would be well above the Panthers.
Philadelphia Eagles: Current rushing rank 10th at 121.6 ypg
While some might not be too worried about the Eagles rushing attack since the Redskins stopped them week 4 for just 87 yards, they represent a very big threat. The Eagles rushing offense struggled in the first four weeks of the season, producing just 280 yards or 70 yards per game. Since that week 4 game versus the Redskins, the Eagles rushing offense has clicked to the tune of 693 yards or 173.3 per game. DeMarco Murray who looked lost the first 4 weeks of the season, is averaging 85.7 yards and 4.5 ypc over the last four games. Ryan Mathews is averaging an impressive 6.1 ypc on the year, has been on a tear during this stretch as well. He has 277 yards over these four games on just 34 carries for an 8.1 ypc average. When the Redskins face the Eagles in Philly the 2nd to last week of the year they are clearly going to have their hands full trying to stop the run.
So over their final eight games of the season the Redskins beleaguered run defense faces off in 5 games versus top 10 rushing offense’s, one league average rushing offense and two below average rushing offense’s. This is not a good outlook for this unit to turn things around, and it’s possible that things continue to get worse for the Redskins. The thing is if they don’t find away to stop/slow down some of these rushing attacks they simply won’t be able to win many of these games. The Redskins aren’t a talented enough team to be dominated in an area and still be competitive.
Steve is the founder of Fanspeak.com. Click here for the Fanspeak Mock Draft Simulator