The Redskins Rushing Attack Has Disappeared

Things that pass the eye test: Chris Thompson, D.J. Swearinger, Maurice Harris.

Things that don’t pass the eye test: The Redskins rush attack, this tweet.

Ignoring that truly terrible tweet, let’s talk about how truly terrible the Redskins have been at running the ball since their bye week. They opened the season with a lackluster effort, putting up 64 yards on 17 carries against the Eagles, then the rushing attack exploded with a 229-yard effort against the Rams. The Redskins followed that up with respectable showings of 116 yards and 111 yards against the Raiders and Chiefs, respectively.

Then came the bye, and the wheels — get it? — fell off.

In order, here’s the total yardage racked up on the ground in the five games since the bye: 94, 75, 49, 51, 81.

The Redskins were among the league leaders in rushing from Weeks 2-4, with only five teams topping their 456 yards in that stretch. But for the whole season, Washington is just 24th in rushing yards, and since Week 6, only five teams have managed fewer rushing yards — each of those five teams has played just four games, while the Redskins have played five.

Only nine teams have managed at least 200 rushing yards in a game this season, and the Redskins’ 229 yards in Week 2 was the sixth-most in the NFL this season.

The only team who can really compare to the Redskins this season, in this particular capacity, is the Jets. Like the Redskins, the Jets struggled in Week 1 (38 yards), then seemed to have completely figured it out in the following three games (126, 103, 256). Four sub-100-yard games followed, but, unlike the Redskins, the Jets picked up a massive game around the midway point of the season, piling up 194 yards in Week 9 against the Bills. But they followed that with a 56-yard dud.

The Redskins are averaging 96.7 rushing yards per game. The Jets are averaging 101.6 rushing yards per game.

So, the Redskins don’t have completely terrible rushing numbers for the season, but if you remove the outburst against the Rams, they’re averaging about 80 yards per game. Consider it this way: More than 25 percent of the Redskins’ rushing yards this season came in one game, and more than 25 percent of their rushing yards in that game came on Chris Thompson’s 61-yard carry.

Put another way: This past Sunday, in which Washington ran it 27 times for 81 yards, was the Redskins’ best rushing performance in a month. They ran for 81 yards. There have been 193 games this season in which a team has run for more yards than that.

Put another another way: The Redskins really need to figure out their rushing attack. They can pin it on injuries all they want — and they have a point, as the offensive line has been in shambles all season and Rob Kelley has missed time — but it’s a matter of committing to the run, and figuring out how to get Robert Kelley (3.1 yards per carry) and Samaje Perine (3.2 yards per carry) going.

Thompson is averaging a hearty 4.6 yards per carry, but at 195 pounds and a litany of injuries in his past, he’s not an every-down back.

The Redskins beat the Seahawks without a run game. In fact, they beat the Seahawks almost entirely without an offense. But while Washington’s defense is good, it’s not otherworldly good, as proven the following week against the Vikings. And it won’t always have Blair Walsh to lean on.

No matter where you stand on the bizarrely divisive Kirk Cousins, there is no camp that considers him a top-tier quarterback. If you don’t have a top-tier quarterback (essentially ending in the names Brady or Rodgers these days) or a top-tier defense, then you better have an unstoppable rushing attack. Otherwise, you have a mediocre team.

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