In Washington's Week 2 victory over Los Angeles, the Redskins fired up the running game with three backs going for more than 200 yards.
With Week 2 often comes expected improvements. Play calling becomes smoother, players look more at ease in their systems and fewer mistakes are made.
Of all of Washington's Week 2 improvements, none stand out more than the running game. Against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins gained 64 yards from the combined efforts of running backs Chris Thompson and Rob Kelly along with quarterback Kirk Cousins. In Sunday's matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, Washington rushed for 229 yards.
The difference? According to Kelley, no drastic changes were implemented to improve the ground attack. It all came down to determination.
"Honestly, we haven't done anything we haven't been doing," he said. "I think we just came out with the mindset we were going to run the ball enough so we did. I think we also run the ball I think the first couple plays we showed up and we were actually running it, so Coach [Jay Gruden] stuck with it."
Nearly half of the offensive plays during the Redskins' first drive were runs. That drive ended with a field goal, and moments later, Washington's defense forced the Rams to punt. Then, head coach Jay Gruden dialed up the ground game, calling six straight runs that ended in a Kelley touchdown.
"We tried it and that's what we thought we had most success at is running the football," Gruden said. "From counters or powers, we have a lot of different schemes going at them – gaps, traps, wraps all that stuff – pitches, guys pulling. We have an athletic line, a powerful line and it was great to show their versatility today."
Unfortunately for the offense, Kelley missed a large portion of the game after going down with an injury. Undeterred, Gruden relied on the efforts of Chris Thompson and rookie running back Samaje Perine to carry the load. Thompson, who recently signed an extension with the team, proved his worth near the end of the second quarter. After taking the handoff in a draw play, Thompson cut from the designed running lane into the wide-open middle of the field. Sixty-one yards later, Washington had its second touchdown of the game.
"They made me look good," Thompson said. "On that draw play, it was a look that we never really went over and they just got the job done and I was just able to do my thing and run. So, let's all give credit to the O-line and guys that were blocking for me."
The physical style of Washington's offense came with an added benefit. The defense, which spent more time on the field than the offense in Week 1, was given plenty of time on the sideline to rest. The Redskins held onto the ball for over 36 minutes, compared the Rams' having possession for 23 minutes.
"We're on the sideline chilling," said safety D.J. Swearinger. "I caught myself a couple times getting up and stretching because they had the ball so long. I tip my hat to the offensive line; those guys did a great job. Keep it going into the next week."