The key for the success of the Washington Redskins’ offense is establishing a balanced attack, and it all starts with getting the run game going. The Philadelphia Eagles could pose a problem for the Redskins, however.
One of the goals of the Wide-9 defensive front the Eagles utilize is to take away the outside run as well as position pass rushers for a direct path to the quarterback. The Eagles rank 15th against the run, but they haven’t allowed a single back to gain 100 yards all season long.
That could limit Washington’s offense, which uses a lot of stretch plays with runs to the outside of their tackles.
“It’s a huge challenge,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. “They really crash the pocket; they crash the O-line every single play, whether it’s a run or a pass. It really turns people. It’s hard to get outside on it. It muddies everything up and pushes everything from the middle. It can be a tough defense to run on, and it can be a real tough defense to drop back and throw on.”
The Eagles aim to keep Robert Griffin III in the pocket rather than let him get to the edge where he can torch them with his speed. They also aim to diminish running back Alfred Morris’s impact on off tackle runs.
“Any time those guys get out there with that Wide 9, they’re going to run to the spot they’re given, and it creates a two-way go for them because if you beat them to that spot, they’re going to take the inside, if they beat you to the spot, they’re going to take the edge on you,” right tackle Tyler Polumbus said.
But Morris isn’t overly concerned. He believes opportunities could present itself for the Redskins to pick up yards up the middle of the line.
“It definitely does [lend itself to cutbacks], but you still have to set it up. You can’t predetermine the cutback lanes,” Morris said. “Even though those ends are wide, you still have people in pursuit. Pursuit in this league is crazy; that’s why you can’t do all that dancing. Just one cut, and go. It poses a threat, but if we set it up, and run like we normally do, we’ll be fine. And I think even with the Wide-9, we’ll still be able to get outside of them with the athletic tackles that we have. I still think we can get around those edges even though that defense is designed to take those edges away.”
Morris said two elements will be key for him in the running game: vision and patience.
“Vision is always crucial for a running back, so times like this, it definitely plays a bigger role as you make sure you set it back,” Morris said. “Patience, to me, is one of the biggest things. Although you know it’s probably going to be more cutback lanes than plays to the outside, you still can’t cut it right away. You have to be patient, and press it and set up your blocks. So, being patient is probably bigger than vision right now.”