by Rick Snider

The Washington Redskins should be banned from running on first down. Maybe second and third, too.

End the madness. No more second-and-eights or third-and-ones that aren’t converted. Forget the ground game completely. Better to use the snap for a short pass than run nowhere.

It’s not all running back Samaje Perine’s fault, though he’s certainly not the solution, aside a couple 100-yard games. Mostly, Perine is a three-yard-max runner. Some of it is the battered offensive line where Perine is often hit in the backfield or at the line. Nobody manages many yards when that happens.

Perine was supposed to be a short-yardage bowling ball anyway, not a prime back. But, massive injuries gave the rookie a chance. So far, the Redskins aren’t benefiting from it no matter the down.

“Second down and third down we’re struggling, too,” conceded coach Jay Gruden. “Red zone, short yardage, goal line – we’ve just been struggling. I think, not to make excuses, but we’ve had so many different line combinations that we’re almost back to the OTAs fundamental-wise. Some of these guys we’re trying to teach certain aspects – the backs, the pass. You lose Byron Marshall, your third-down back, which you have a lot of plays for on the second kickoff of the game . . . he doesn’t even play any offensive snaps. It makes it hard. Samaje is not a third-down back. He’s never been a third-down back and he’s running stuff out of the backfield and a very integral part of our offense was gone.

“We have to just make sure we get the guys up to speed and coached and they are ready to play – the guys who are available – and we’ve got [Kapri] Bibbs up. He’s more of a third-down back hopefully for us. LeShun [Daniels] – he’s more of a first- and second-down back along with Samaje.”

The Redskins should just average 50 passes over the last three games. Wing the ball, see what quarterback Kirk Cousins can do before judging him for the third and perhaps final season. See what a receiving corps that has underperformed this season can do in hopes of carrying over in 2018.

“Yeah, I think it’s up to everybody else to step up,” Gruden said. “Ryan [Grant] got hurt a little bit, but Ryan’s been playing pretty well. Josh [Doctson] has done some great things I think from playing his first full year with us. Vernon Davis still is a great weapon for us. Niles Paul is still a great weapon for us. So we have some weapons.”

They’re just not the ones running the ball.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.

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