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Redskins Looking To Re-Establish Rushing Attack

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As the Redskins enter a Week 6 road matchup against a New York Jets team with a talented defense, they'll try to get their ground game going once again after recent struggles.

Through the first two games of the season, it looked as if statistically the Washington Redskins would clearly have the best running game in the NFL.

Check out images of fourth-year running back Alfred Morris during the 2015 offseason.

Alfred Morris ran for more than 120 yards in the season opener against the Miami Dolphins and Matt Jones had one of the most surprising performances of the young season when he ran all over a talented St. Louis Rams defense to the tune of 123 yards and two touchdowns.

But since that game, the Redskins haven't been able to replicate that success over their last three games.

Against the Giants, Morris, Jones and Chris Thompson combined for just 88 yards on 20 carries.

In Sunday's overtime loss to the Atlanta Falcons, they had a season-low 51 rushing yards.

"They did a nice job of taking away our running game, No. 1," head coach Jay Gruden said of the Falcons game. "We averaged, I guess, two yards a carry and then the in third quarter we got the ball and we had some specialty runs designed for Chris Thompson – some outside runs, some tosses and some misdirection runs – trying get to the outside with his speed and then we had Jones in there a little bit."

And while Gruden insists Morris is still the "lead dog" among the running backs, the fourth-year Florida Atlantic product hasn't gotten the carries Redskins fans are used to seeing out of him.

Over the last three games, Morris has tallied just 31 carries for 96 yards. He also has no touchdowns on the season – easily the longest scoreless drought of his career.

Morris, who never worries about his own numbers, gives credit to the opposing defenses the past three weeks, and hopes to see things get back on track soon.

"We have not been consistent in our run game the last few weeks," Morris said. "The first two weeks we were able to do really well. The last few weeks we haven't been able to do so kudos to that defense. They had a job to do just like we had to do a job and they won that battle today."

For now, though, the team will continue to find ways to get all three running backs involved.

"You know, we're going to alternate those guys," Gruden said. "But like I said before, when our running game's going, he's going to get his carries, and when it's not going, nobody is going to get enough carries. That's just the way it was. We were stuck in a lot of second-and-eights, a lot of second-and-nines. And when that's the case, we're not going to be too good with the running game and Alfred is not going to get that many touches. Hopefully in the future next week and the week after that we'll get him more involved."

As for the balance between pass and run, while teams are now forcing the Redskins to look to the air to get yardage – and they have been – Gruden believes they need to get back to a ground-rooted game early and often.

Mixing in a few play action plays on first downs "a little bit more" and that could clear up space for the backs, too.

"Every time you come out with a loss and you don't have a lot of production in the running game, you second guess all your calls," Gruden said. "That's what we're doing. It's our job as coaches to put our players in the best position possible. Obviously we feel like we didn't do that. We let our team down a little bit. We've got to do better job of getting them in better looks, better situations and call a better game for them."

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