Ever see those old Hanna-Barbera cartoons (like the Flintstones or Scooby Doo), where the cartoon characters exaggeratedly run in place for a moment, with their legs kind of winding up, before they zoom off towards wherever they’re going?
The Redskins running game is just like that, only without the zooming off part. It looks like their legs are moving with somewhere to go, only when it’s all said and done, they haven’t actually gotten anywhere.
At just under 91 yards per game rushing, this is the worst Redskins rushing attack the team has ever fielded in over a decade. It’s worse than the mockery of an offense we saw under Jim Zorn last year. It’s worse than it was in Gibbs first year back, when it was rumored that Gregg Williams referred to our offense as “high school football.” It’s even worse than that of the Steve Spurrier regime, when he viewed running the football as more of an inconvenience than an offensive strategy.
While the Redskins are in the bottom quarter of the league in rushing yards per game, this doesn’t explain the magnitude of how bad things are. So chew on this: The Redskins have had two games this season where they’ve had less than 30 yards rushing in an entire game. Thirty. To put that in perspective: five different running backs have ripped off runs of over 30 yards against the Redskins this year, yet that was the total rushing output for the Redskins, as a team for the entire game, in nearly one fifth of the games we’ve played this season.
Or how about this: three running backs currently have more yards rushing individually than we do as an entire team. Heck, six running backs have more rushing TD’s than our entire team.
Are you kidding me?
This is a franchise that was once synonymous with a power rushing attack. We’ve had League MVP’s, Super Bowl MVP’s, and perennial thousand yard backs for the better part of two-plus decades line up to take hand-offs from Redskins quarterbacks. And this is how we pay homage to those greats?
Yes, I know that injuries have decimated our depth at the position, but the guys we’re trotting out in our backfield is just downright embarrassing. I know Mike Shanahan has a reputation of making productive rushers out of overlooked players, but to expect any worthwhile production from these scrubs is lunacy.
Keiland Williams is nothing more than a mediocre running back who could be replaced by two dozen other back up running backs around the NFL (most of them would probably be an upgrade over Williams). This guy wasn’t even a starter in the SEC, and we’re expecting him to be the starter for an NFL team?
James Davis, our newest flavor of the week, can best be described as spectacularly useless. As a running back, he demonstrated the super-fecta of sucking: No burst, no power, no speed, and no moves. It’s pretty pathetic when his highlights included runs that actually passed the line of scrimmage (his longest carry last week was for three yards).
Sitting here at 5-6 as we enter December, there are plenty of Redskins fans who keep telling themselves that we’re in the same position as we were in 2005 or 2007, when the team finished the season by going on winning streaks to clinch playoff births.
While it’s something to hold on to, I certainly wouldn’t hold your breath for it.
In both instances, Clinton Portis put this offense on his back and almost single-handedly willed this team into the playoffs. In 2005? 5 straight games with 100+ rushing, including six rushing TD’s in that span. In 2007? Portis ran for 100+ in two of the Redskins final three games (and had over 120 combined yards in the other). If you think Williams or Davis could duplicate anything close to what Portis did for this team, then please pass whatever it is you’re imbibing on, because it must be amazing stuff.
Our offensive line in ‘05, from left to right, was Chris Samuels, Derrick Dockery, Casey Rabach, Randy Thomas, and Jon Jansen. In ‘07, it was almost the same, except with Pete Kendall in Dockery’s place. The guys we have now are a far cry from Buges’ dirtbags. Our current group is nothing more than a bunch of miscast and over-matched misfits. Only Trent Williams and a healthy Jammal Brown could hold a candle to any of those guys (and Brown hasn’t been healthy for a single day as a member of the Redskins).
Past that? Rabach is well on his way towards washed up, Artis Hicks & Will Montgomery are stop-gaps at best, and Kory Lichtensteiger could very well be the worst offensive lineman in the NFL (I’ve seen amusement park turnstiles block better than he can).
Whether it’s Vinny Cerrato leaving the cupboard so unbelievably bare that this is all we had to work with, or whether it’s the collective hubris of Bruce Allen & Mike Shanahan to believe they could be successful with this current group of guys, we’re making a chicken-or-the-egg argument.
But the fact remains: our running backs (and their production) are symbolic of just how many upgrades are needed for this offense before before we can really consider them a contender for anything.
This article was written for and cross-posted on RedskinsGab.com