Redskins Ingredients for Improvement after Week 1 loss to Eagles
By Ian Cummings
No. 4 – Implement the running game the right way
After Derrius Guice carried the ball for 18 yards on 10 attempts in Sunday’s loss, fans lambasted Jay Gruden for his decision to sit Adrian Peterson, as if Peterson would have done any better.
I’ve got a hot take for you. He wouldn’t have. It would’ve been nice to have Peterson available to take pressure off Guice, and the team would’ve avoided all the subsequent drama. But the statistical outcome would have been the same.
It’s not the personnel that’s the problem for the Redskins running game, although in hindsight, Guice did not look one-hundred percent on many of his reps, and the blocking could have been better. But if the running game was implemented with more logical sense, then perhaps Guice would have found more space at the line of scrimmage.
Jay Gruden has a fatal flaw, where he tries to rely on the run when he has a substantial lead. It was this foundation on the run that began the stalling of the offense in the second half, and it was persistent stubbornness that allowed the Eagles to so thoroughly dominate time of possession in the third and fourth quarters.
Gruden can’t rely on the run game situationally, anymore. The modern NFL isn’t built like that. There are still ways to run, and run well, but a team has to run the right way. That means running at the right times. Not on second and long. Not if there’s a heavy box on first and ten. Gruden also runs a very diverse ground game; he could stand to improve by simplifying things, and honing in on a couple schemes his players are best at. As analyst Mark Bullock pointed out on Twitter, the Shanahans had running success by mastering the zone scheme. Gruden could follow suit, and simplify his scheme.
Whatever the case, the Redskins can’t run the way they did on Sunday. Something needs to change. Gruden likes to stick to his guns, and focus on perfecting his own way, rather than modifying it when necessary. That’s a trench he can’t dig again, with his job security dwindling.