“It does show the ground game is definitely still needed,” Morris said. “I know a lot of teams now pass the ball around, but you definitely need a running attack. A lot of teams don’t go as far because they don’t have a rushing attack. You can’t win games if you don’t get it done on the ground as well.”
Washington and Seattle may offer opposition to the refrain of the NFL as a passing league. But they also hammer home the idea that it is a league defined by quarterback play. If there is a coming wave of college-style, zone-read offenses in the NFL, it started with the Redskins and Griffin and was next co-opted by the Seahawks and Wilson. Griffin led NFL quarterbacks with 815 rushing yards, and Wilson was third with 489.
The Post Sports Live crew examines the 11-5 Seattle Seahawks, who are riding an impressive five-game winning streak during which their average margin of victory is more than 26 points per game.
Carroll said the Redskins commit to more designed runs by their quarterback, but that the Seahawks rushed 536 times, more than any other NFL team, by design. Teams like the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots, he said, have become so reliant on passing because their quarterback allows them to “control the football throwing.”
Carroll believes it would be misguided to try to copy them, that only an elite quarterback ingrained in a franchise makes such an offense work. For him, it is better to establish a run-based offense any quarterback can complement.
“I didn’t want to build an offense around some special player that could come and go,” Carroll said. “I wanted to build around a philosophy, an approach and a mentality that we could consistently present.”
And they have. When Cofield watched those handoffs on film, he saw Lynch juke around, smash through and race by defenders.
“All that Beast Mode stuff, it’s all true,” Cofield said, referencing Lynch’s nickname. “Watch him on tape, and it looks like he’s angry at everybody out there and he doesn’t want to be tackled, ever.”
Cofield still looks forward to the challenge, in part because of what Sunday’s game represents. The NFL may be a passing league, but teams can still win by running.
“There are quite a few teams in the playoffs that have good run games,” Cofield said. “That’s a testament to the old-school game. That’s what Coach Shanahan preaches all the time – we want to run the ball, stop our opponent from running the ball.”