Still searching for answers to a stagnant rushing attack, Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan gave running back Ryan Torain his third start of the season a week after replacing Torain in the lineup with rookie Roy Helu.
Helu last week rushed for 41 yards on 10 carries and also had 14 catches for 105 yards in a 20-9 loss to the Dolphins. Shanahan believed that Torain deserved another opportunity this week, but the Redskins’ struggles in the ground game continued.
Torain, who last season led the team in rushing, received 11 carries against Miami, but managed only 20 yards for a 1.8-yard per carry average. Helu took over in the second half and carried the ball five times for 20 yards before ripping off a 21-yard gain with time running out.
“The line is doing a good job. We just need to be more consistent getting the ball wherever it needs to go,” Helu said.
For the game, the Redskins tallied 61 yards on 17 carries for a 3.6-yard average.
“Obviously that running game is not very productive right now [with Torain], and Helu is pretty close to the same thing,” Shanahan said. “We didn’t have a lot of yards per carry, and I thought we might be able to get a little bit better in that area carrying the football two weeks in a row. The average yards per rush was not something we’re very proud of.”
Washington ranks 28th in the NFL’s rushing category, averaging just 89.9 yards a game, which breaks from Mike Shanahan’s history of producing strong running attacks during his offenses in Denver.
Of the three running backs that opened the season for Washington, only Torain has managed to surpass the 100-yard mark in a single game, and that happened just once.
“Oh, it’s frustrating,” Shanahan said. “You’ve got to … look at your running game. I thought we did a pretty good job after the preseason and a pretty good job after the first four games, and we’re not there right now. We’ll just keep on working to improve in that running game, and we’re going to have to improve in that area to be the type of offense we want to be. We’ve got some young guys coming in playing extremely hard, but we’re not there yet.”