Alfred Morris gets into the New England secondary during the preseason matchup. (Richard Lipski/Associated Press)

The Redskins’ offense this Sunday will receive a stiff test right off the bat as they go up against a talented defensive front led by pass rushers J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Quarterback Robert Griffin III will not have any success at all if he finds himself under duress constantly. Jay Gruden says that the biggest key to Griffin having a good day centers around another player – running back Alfred Morris.

Establishing a strong run game will go a long way to diminishing the impact of Houston’s pass rushers, Gruden said.

“They can really get after the quarterback and obviously the great neutralizer is a strong running game and we think we possess that,” Gruden said. “So, it’s going to be very important for us to establish some kind of running game. If we get behind and it turns into a drop-back pass fest, it won’t be pretty.”

Morris enters his third season having rushed for 1,000 yards in back-to-back campaigns. Morris last season ranked fourth in the NFL, rushing for 1,275 yards, and his average of 4.6 yards per carry ranked eighth among the league’s running backs.

Gruden used Morris to help the Redskins’ offense ease its way into action in the preseason opener against New England. He fed the back the ball on three of first four plays, and Morris delivered by gaining 24 yards on those three carries.

The Redskins could opt for a similar approach on Sunday.

“It’s very important for us to stick with the run, run the ball and do the best we can in that regard to take some pressure off our quarterback and our linemen, for that matter,” Gruden said.

● Related: Reid: Redskins should use Morris to take pressure off Griffin

Griffin on Wednesday promised his teammates that he would play a good game for them.

But Gruden said more than anything, it’s on him to position the quarterback for that success.

“We have a good game plan going into Houston and it’s just a matter of us executing,” Gruden said. “Me calling a good enough game to keep Robert comfortable, stay out of those second and longs or third and longs like we were in Baltimore, and just move forward and put that game behind us, learn from it and set our sights on the regular season.”

Have a Redskins question? Send an e-mail to with the subject line “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.

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