The Washington Redskins made one of the most aggressive moves of the 2012 NFL Draft, agreeing in mid-March to send three 1st-round picks and a 2nd-round pick to St. Louis in order to move up from the #6 spot to the #2 spot. The target was QB Robert Griffin III, and the Redskins eventually got their man.
Griffin III is off to a solid start for Washington. He’s completing 69.1% of his passes - tops in the NFL – and he ranks 6th in the NFL with a passer rating of 101.0. Through 5 games, it appears the Redskins made a wise choice in making Griffin III their QB of the future, and as a result their passing game should continue to improve.
For the moment, though, the Redskins offense begins and ends with their running game. Griffin III is a part of that running game, and so is another member of the Redskins 2012 draft class. The Redskins running game is the topic of today’s A Closer Look feature…
The Redskins enter Week 6 of the NFL season as one of the NFL’s top rushing teams. They rank 7th in attempts (159), 4th in yards (813) and yards per game (162.6), 3rd in yards per attempt (5.1), tied for 3rd in rushing TDs (8) and 2nd in explosive runs (runs of 10+ yards) with 29. Those numbers would be even better if not for a substandard performance last week against a very good Atlanta Falcons defense. The Redskins had season-lows in many rushing categories, and prior to that performance they notched 2 rushing TDs in each game and hadn’t ran fewer than 29 times in any contest.
The workhorse in the Redskins running game is another rookie, and a drastically less-celebrated rookie heading into the 2012 draft at that. Now, however, Redskins fans are celebrating Alfred Morris. Washington selected Morris with a 6th-round pick last April, and the Florida Atlantic product wasted no time taking charge of the team’s RB position. Morris rushed for 96 yards and 2 TDs on 28 carries in Week 1, and now Morris joins only Eric Dickerson as rookies who’ve rushed for 75+ yards in each of their first five games. Morris has 100+ rushing yards in each of the last two games, averages 4.9 yards per carry and has found the end zone 4 times.
Credit Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan for once against finding a diamond in the rough at RB late in the draft – he’s done that several times in his career, most notably while coaching the Denver Broncos.
And when looking at the Redskins rushing game, don’t forget about RG3. The Redskins rookie passer is a true dual threat. He averages 5.7 yards per rush on 42 attempts and has matched Morris’ total of 4 rushing TDs. Griffin III is a genuine threat as a ball-carrier. Of the Redskins 813 rushing yards, Morris accounts for 60% (491 yards) and Griffin III accounts for 29.6% (241 yards), and no other Redskins player has more than 7 rushing attempts.
Men Up Front
We can’t talk about the Redskins productive ground game without crediting their offensive line. The Redskins have started the same five offensive linemen all season, and the camaraderie generated from that consistency is paying dividends. Former 4th overall pick (2010) Trent Williams starts at LT and former Viking Kory Lichtensteiger starts at LG. Sixth-year veteran Will Montgomery anchors the line at center, Chris Chester starts at RG and Tyler Polumbus starts at RT. Most of the names aren’t household, but the group is gutty and they’re playing well right now.
No team runs to the right more than Washington – the Redskins have run the ball 67 times for 312 yards (4.7 yards per carry) behind Chester and Polumbus. But only three teams have run up the middle fewer times than Washington – they have 25 carries for 106 yards (4.2 per carry) running between the guards.
A Good Matchup
The Redskins running game against the Vikings rush defense is a great matchup. We’ve chronicled the Redskins productive running game above, but keep in mind that the Vikings have been tough against the run this season. The Vikings rank 2nd in yards per carry allowed (3.2) and 6th in rushing yards per game allowed (78.6), and they’ve yet to surrender a rushing TD to a RB (Matthew Stafford scored a rushing TD in Week 4).
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