The Washington Redskins have demonstrated an ability to move the ball up and down the field and through two games have led the NFL in time of possession and in number of plays run.
Washington on average has held the ball for 35 minutes and 33 seconds a game, and the Redskins have run 138 offensive plays, which is tied for first with San Diego.
Redskins players say that they have a greater comfort level in Kyle Shanahan’s offense and that has enabled them to execute more effectively. Shanahan, meanwhile, said he has been able to get into a better rhythm as a play-caller because he is more comfortable with his personnel and because with each successful play, he is able to go deeper into the playbook, which makes Washington’s offense more unpredictable to defenses.
“To me, as a play-caller, I feel getting into a rhythm is all about having plays,” Shanahan said. “It’s really tough to get into a rhythm when you don’t have long drives. When you can start getting longer drives and getting first downs — and we’ve been able to go on a bunch of long drives this year — it helps as a play-caller. … You can mix it up a lot when you have drives. If you go three-and-out, you either ran it too much or threw it too much. Once you can get first downs, it makes it a lot easier for play-callers.”
The Redskins through two games rank 11th in the NFL in total offense, averaging 393.5 yards a game. When it comes to passing, Washington has thrown the ball 77 times (eighth-highest in the league) and the Redskins have run the ball 61 times (seventh in the NFL).
If the two-game sample is an indication, it would appear that Washington’s balance has improved over last season when the Redskins ranked 18th in the NFL in total offense (averaging 335.9 yards a game) and attempted 605 passing attempts all year (fourth highest) but ran the ball only 351 times (31st in the league).
Shanahan is encouraged by the progress, but still wants more balance out of Washington’s offense, which is on pace to throw the ball 616 times and run the ball 488 times.
“All games are different, but I think if you look at how we’ve been in Houston when I was there and how this system has been in Denver over the years – we want to be a balanced team,” said Shanahan, whose Houston offense in 2009 ranked fourth in the league, averaging 383.1 yards a game (the Texans were first in passing but 20th in rushing). “We weren’t as balanced as we wanted to be last year, not even close. I think we’re doing a better job of that this year. I think it goes back to the last question, too, when you do have longer drives, you can get both plays in. You can throw the ball and run the ball, so it helps out.”