This Sunday is newly acquired running back Tashard Choice’s birthday and he only wants two things for his birthday: 1) to play against the Cowboys, his former team and 2) get a well overdue victory to snap the Redskins five game losing streak. The Redskins picked up Choice off Waivers on October 31st after the Cowboys decided to waive the 4th year back. Due to an injured hamstring and Choice needing to learn the playbook- he hasn’t been active yet for any games with the Redskins. Choice spent three and half seasons with the Cowboys proving that he is a good complimentary back. Throughout his career Choice proved he was a good option behind Marion Barber and Felix Jones, tallying 8 TD’s and sporting an above average 4.6 yards/per rush.
The Redskins hope Choice can ignite a miserable running game that has been plaguing them since Tim Hightower went down against the Panthers. The Redskins are ranked 31st in the NFL in Rush Offense, managing just 86.7 yards per game and only compiling 780 total yards for the season; the leader in rushing touchdowns this season is backup QB John Beck with two, enough said.
Any good running back in the NFL will give credit when credit is due; usually that credit goes to the Offensive Line. The Redskins Offensive Line has been in flux for a majority of the year, causing major inconsistency with the run game. The first few games of the season, the Redskins were able to establish the run with Hightower and Helu which set up some successful play action passes. Since the rash of injuries to Kory Lichtensteiger, Trent Williams and Jamaal Brown- the Redskins haven’t been able to produce an NFL caliber run game, which in turn has stifled the pass game.
In addition to Offensive Line issues, I believe a contributing factor to the Redskins run game’s issues is that they do not have a “featured back” on the roster. Veterans Tim Hightower, Ryan Torain & newcomer Tashard Choice all thrived in complimentary roles in their career- not as featured backs. Many NFL “experts” are quick to point out that to be successful in the NFL today, a team needs two good backs. Usually those teams that have two good backs also have a “Franchise QB” (do you see a theme here?). This theory may be true, but the Redskins can’t get any of their complimentary backs to successfully perform from game to game. Since week four against the Rams, where Ryan Torain carried the ball for 135 yards and one score- the Redskins haven’t even came close to having a 100 yard rusher in a game.
So, is Tashard Choice the best option to bolster the Skins’ rushing attack? If the Offensive Line doesn’t play better, and the passing attack provides some type of threat…it really doesn’t matter who is in the backfield against the Cowboys. There is one thing that Choice brings to the table this Sunday and that is motivation. Motivated to have a monster game on his 27th birthday, sure; motivated to prove the Cowboys they made a mistake by waiving the former Georgia Tech star, absolutely. Choice’s possible redemption against the Cowboys only provides temporary relief from the Redskins glaring need…they just have too few playmakers- whether it’s the QB, Offensive Line or the Running Back position; the Redskins need upgrades.