After weeks of futility, Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan started seeing his unit finally make some strides three weeks ago against Miami and show even more improvement the following week against Dallas. Finally this past Sunday against the Seahawks, the offensive players managed to maintain the momentum they had begun to build and put together a winning result, much to Shanahan’s relief.
For the first time all season, the Redskins took the opening kickoff, marched the length of the field and scored. Rookie Roy Helu rushed for 108 yards, marking only the second time this season that a Redskins running back topped the century mark. Washington had a few key third-down conversions, which also had been hard to come by, and the unit cranked out several big plays in the comeback victory.
“It felt good,” said Shanahan, who on Thursday spoke for the first time since the 23-17 win. “We haven’t [scored on the opening drive] all year and, to be able to go down and do it, make a couple of third downs and make a couple big plays and finish it with a touchdown – that definitely takes some pressure off. It definitely makes it a lot easier.”
The offensive coordinator said two previously missing elements – the rushing game and an effective play-action attack – helped set the Redskins up for success.
“Any time you can do a few things to counteract them [where] that looks like run, where you can attack certain holes and soften some people up to get people not just teeing off in one aspect of the game – I think it helps out all the spots,” Shanahan said. “Not just the run game, but the pass rush and keeps those safeties back [and] makes guys think twice before they shoot their guns.”
Big plays had previously been hard to come by for the Redskins during their six-game losing streak. But on Sunday, the unit had 10 plays of 15 yards or more, and the two biggest plays were a 50-yard, game-clinching touchdown pass from Rex Grossman to Anthony Armstrong, and a 28-yard Roy Helu run on the previous scoring drive.
“It was good,” Shanahan said of finally starting to see things come together. “There’s such a fine line in football. It was frustrating going through that game because you think everything is going perfect and, when it was all said and done, we still only had seven points going into the fourth quarter. And then we had two players step up and make some unbelievable plays. We had Roy hurdle a guy and make an unbelievable run and we had Rex and the offensive line give us the time to hit Armstrong down the field.
“You have those two plays that give you the points and then it seems like a great day. You’ve got to get plays like that eventually to where it could open that up. Moving the ball is great, but you’ve got to find ways to score. Those two plays those guys made gave us a great chance.”