The Vikings will travel to the Washington D.C. area on Friday with an injury-depleated secondary that currently ranks 30th in the NFL. Just 1 of the 4 starting DBs from Week 1 remains in the lineup (Jamarca Sanford), and with Asher Allen dealing with a concussion and Cedric Griffin demoted from the starting lineup, it’s entirely possible that 6 of the team’s best 7 opening-day DBs will not see the field.
On top of all that, the Washington Redskins come into this weekend’s matchup ranked 14th in passing and 29th in rushing. For the season, the Redskins have passed the ball on 60.7% of their snaps and they have twice as many TDs through the air (16) as they do on the ground (8).
With all of that said, though, don’t be surprised if Washington attacks the Vikings defense primarily on the ground. It might not make sense at first blush, but a closer look at the numbers suggests this might be the route the Redskins take.
The Redskins currently sit with a 5-9 record, but they began the season with 3 wins in their first 4 games. In those 4 games, the Redskins averaged 30.75 rushes per game. After a bye in Week 4, Washington went on a 6-game losing streak, and in those games they ran the ball just 17.0 times per game. Since losing to Dallas in Week 11, the Redskins have gone 2-2 and have run the ball 31.5 times per game in that stretch, including a 40-carry game in victory against the Giants last week.
Suffice it to say the Redskins have seen better results when they employ a more balanced run-pass ratio, and they’ve in fact won games when they’ve had a run-heavy attack.
It might seem odd given the caliber of pass defense the Vikings have displayed as of late, but Washington could very well choose to attack the Vikings on the ground early and often. If they choose this strategy, rookie RB Roy Helu will be the team’s primary ball carrier. He’s averaging 4.3 yards per rush and had 3 consecutive 20-carry, 100-yard rushing performances from Week 12-14.
“I think he is a tough football player, a good football player that has good skills,” Vikings Defensive Coordinator Fred Pagac said on Thursday. “He can run, he’s fast, he’s predominantly a tackle to outside runner, but that is their offense. He does a good job.”
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