Yes, the Washington Redskins have a running game.
The Redskins surely revolve around quarterback Robert Griffin III, but they finally relied on running back Alfred Morris to sustain long drives and fullback Darrel Young to punch in three touchdowns in their 30-24 overtime victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.
Somehow, a seething public memo over Morris not getting 20 carries even once this season finally reached offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Maybe the brutally harsh loss the previous week to Denver forced Shanahan to remember the running game, but Morris and Young showed they’re equally vital to the Redskins (3-5) if Washington has any chance of defending its NFC East crown.
Morris rushed for 121 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries. The Redskins rushed for 209 yards on 40 carries. It was like the finishing 7-0 run last year that carried Washington to the playoffs.
The only question: What took the Redskins so long to run more often?
“It did feel more like last year with the balance,” Griffin said.
Not that the passer didn’t have a good day, though a few missed receivers and a batted ball that was intercepted for a touchdown were certainly jarring. But Griffin found room in the lanes for completions of 9, 12 and 17 yards during the overtime drive when the Redskins ran Morris five of nine snaps before Young sealed the win with a 1-yard score.
Last year’s rookie combination that produced a team-record single-season rushing leader and NFL Rookie of the Year passer were finally effectively reunited.
It’s about time.
Morris was averaging a healthy 5.2 yards per carry entering the game. However, Shanahan has sometimes been too pass-happy during his 3½ seasons in Washington and forgets he has Washington’s best runner since perhaps John Riggins.
With 686 yards at midseason, Morris is on pace to fall short of last year’s 1,613-yard total. Doubling his 133 carries over the season would also be far fewer than last year’s 335 runs. There’s no reason Morris shouldn’t carry the Redskins when Washington meets Minnesota on Thursday.
Morris is the meat and Griffin is the potatoes this season. Skeptics who thought Morris benefited last year from Griffin’s running ability can’t second-guess Morris this time, with Griffin more of a pocket passer. Maybe Griffin will return to his running style next year when he’s relieved of the bulky knee brace, but for now he’s limited to occasional runs.
“We have something to believe in,” Griffin said after the win.
Yes, and this time it’s not so much the cult of Griffin as the ground game of Morris.