Running the Ball: Who Has the Edge?
Washington Redskins Rushing Offense
The combination of a patchwork offensive line, new quarterback, and stout run defense worked against the Redskins on Thanksgiving Day at Dallas as they were held to 80 rushing yards. The three turnovers did not help either as Peterson’s 12 carries were his fourth-fewest on the season.
Not having guards Shawn Lauvao and Brandon Scherff cannot be an excuse because they are out the rest of the season. Coach Jay Gruden hinted Peterson may be nursing the shoulder injury he aggravated against Dallas as a reason he was off his game.
“I’m not saying he was poor running the ball, but I don’t think he was quite himself and [he] is quite a dominant player over the course of his career and I think he’d probably agree with that,” Gruden told the Washington Times
. “We have to do a better job of trying to get some more holes for him.”
Between being nicked up and the shuffle on the offensive line, it is clear Peterson’s numbers are off pace from the first half of the season. After averaging 4.4 yards per carry in Washington’s first eight games, that number has dropped to 3.3. And the big plays have fallen off more severely — Peterson totaled 18 runs of 10 or more yards, on
The struggles of the run game are a chicken-and-egg argument. The offensive line has to create holes for Peterson to be successful, but he also has to find them when they are there because it is obvious he still has the speed to break off big plays when they are available.
Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense
Though there is no shame in letting Saquon Barkley run for 100 yards, but the Eagles have to be concerned the rookie broke off touchdown runs of more than 50 yards in both matchups this season.
Philadelphia has allowed at least 121 rushing yards in five of the last six games. Only Jacksonville failed to reach 100 in that span, totaling 70, and it was without Leonard Fournette. Opponents have averaged 6.03 yards per carry in those six games and posted double-digit runs 20 times. Not including the Jaguars, the long run by each team was at least 34 yards.
In some ways, the Eagles players knew they caught a break last weekend in the second half when the Giants inexplicably went away from what was working after rolling up 346 yards in the first half.
Safety Malcolm Jenkins also noted the defense played better after asking coordinator Jim Schwartz to simplify the game plan after the cornerbacks were struggling to deal with New York’s up-tempo offense. That allowed the front four to win the line of scrimmage, which helped turn the game in the Eagles’ favor.
“It put us in a little bit of a bind in terms of communicating,” Jenkins told The Athletic
. “It’s loud. So, give us something simple and we’ll put the pressure on our D-line to take over.”
It’s a very simple equation for the Eagles to be successful: The front four have to win the battle at the line of scrimmage because the back four are still in such a state of flux they cannot be counted on to consistently make plays. That means there will likely be a lot of base defense by the Eagles overall, which could leave them open to the play-action.
Notable Rushing Statistics
Washington Redskins Offense
Washington Redskins — 1,295 net rushing yards (13th)
117.7 net rushing yards per game (13th)
299 rushes (13th)
27.2 rushes per game (13th)
4.33 yards per rush (16th)
10 rushing TDs (T-10th)
Adrian Peterson — 183 rushes/758 yards/4.14 yards per carry/6 TDs
Alex Smith — 41/168/4.1/1
Chris Thompson — 26/113/4.35/0
Kapri Bibbs — 20/101/5.05/3
Colt McCoy — 10/63/6.3/0
Philadelphia Eagles Defense
Philadelphia Eagles — 1,140 net rushing yards allowed (11th fewest)
103.6 net rushing yards allowed per game (11th fewest)
233 opponents’ rushes (2nd fewest)
21.2 opponents’ rushes per game (2nd fewest)
4.89 opponents’ yards per carry (27th fewest)
9 opponents’ rushing TDs (T-16th fewest)