After starting the season strong, the Redskins' rungame has struggled recently, highlighted by a 34-yard performance against the Jets. The hope now is to get back on track against the Buccaneers.
It's been a frustrating few weeks for the Washington Redskins in the run game, and Sunday's game against the New York Jets was easily their least productive game of the season, as they totaled just 34 yards on 17 carries.
Alfred Morris would manage just 21 yards on 11 carries – with a long of just six yards – and Chris Thompson would carry it five times for just 12 yards.
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden believes there are several factors equating to their struggles in recent weeks.
"It just hasn't been good enough," Gruden said. "Our run blocking hasn't been good enough, our recognition of where the holes are at times hasn't been good enough. We haven't broken many tackles. So we've got to stick with it. We've got to stick with the plan and before the season started, that was going to be a heavy, major emphasis on how we were going to be successful is to have a good, strong running game."
During the first two weeks of the season, it appeared the Redskins would indeed operate their offense right through the run game, as both Morris and Matt Jones each had games with at least 120 rushing yards.
But over the last four games, the Redskins have totaled just 300 yards on 93 carries for an average slightly greater than three yards per carry.
Against the Jets and Giants -- both games in which Washington was trailing in the second half -- the Redskins had to deviate from the running game.
But even in the first half of games recently, they just haven't been able to duplicate the production from those first two games.
"It's frustrating because obviously the run game opens up doors to everything," Redskins fullback Darrel Young said. "You know, maybe when we get DeSean [Jackson] back people will back up a little bit. Obviously him getting the respect around the league that he gets but, sometimes you got to make guys miss you. It's about the O-line not doing things, fullback missing the block, stuff like that.
A countdown of the Top 10 images of Redskins fullback Darrel Young during the 2014 season
One solution could very well be using formations with Young more often.
During the 2013 and 2014 seasons, the Villanova product had three rushing touchdowns in both seasons along with three receiving touchdowns.
This season, though, Young has just two carries for two yards and two receptions for eight yards. And the offense has trended towards using more linemen and tight ends up front instead of a fullback in running situations.
"We could use him more," Gruden said of Young. "We probably should use him more, and that's a consideration moving forward."
With Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedExField the team's last before it enters the Bye Week, Morris said playing well across the board would be "very important for team morale."
"Just for us to continue to have hope for the rest of the second half of the season," Morris said. "Going into the Bye Week with four losses is a lot better than going into the Bye Week with five losses. So we just got to try to find a way to get this win against the Buccaneers. Hopefully we figure it out."