This is my humble opinion about why our Washington Redskins have had a hard time running the ball under Head Coach Jay Gruden. “Pounding the rock” uses up the clock and wears down the defense as well wins the time-of-possession battle. It keeps the opposing offense spectators on the sidelines so they cannot score. Our Redskins have big guys up front. We have two All-Pros on the O-line and depth. We have the best offensive line guru in the NFL in Bill Callahan. All this bears the question why can we not run the ball consistently and have the balance we need between pass and run plays? I believe Bill Callahan knows the answer while Head Coach Jay Gruden does not.
Simply put, the biggest reason is the lack of a fullback along with the lack of counter plays. Most Redskins fans remember the Hogs, and the “counter trey.” Head Coach Joe Gibbs and Offensive Line Coach Joe Bugel used the quickness of the offensive line to fool the opponent’s defense into thinking that the play was going left, but then two big blockers would lead the way right for the running back. The running back would initially take a step left giving the appearance that the line moved left but would then run to the right with two blockers in front of him. I saw the Ravens do that in the preseason opener and they ran on our Redskins four times as much as we ran on them. Deception and the runner following his double-team blockers make it work. I will not make it complicated with kick-out blocks, down blocks and lead blocks. The bottom line is the defense follows the play to the left and the play goes to the right with 6 hundred pounds of blockers in front clearing the way with the runner following them.
To further explain why the “counter” plays work so well is the role of the fullback, which Head Coach Jay Gruden does not have on the Redskins roster. Why do we need a fullback to make the run game work? In football terms, the fullback is known as the “trapper” and he has to block the defender who is on the edge of his tight end. By doing so, he opens the gap with his kick-out block.
Jay Gruden is a good offensive coach and his strong point is perfectly timed passes and perfect routes run by receivers. However, in bad weather (which is half the season) with its mud, rain, snow and ice, championship teams can run the ball. Passing becomes hard with a cold slick ball and high winds. So, my point is Jay Gruden needs to let Bill Callahan’s offensive line use counter plays, and have a fullback or “H” back on the roster to block as well as being a check-down receiver to dump the ball off to if the play breaks down. Running the ball wears down the opposing defense. Fatigue makes cowards out of players. They know the counter run play is coming but they cannot stop it. Is it a counter to the right or counter to the left or is it play-action pass?
I am a Jay Gruden fan so this is not an attack on him, but constructive criticism. I know Bill Callahan teaches our offensive linemen drills such as shuffle drills, bag drills, straight line drills, up and back drills, softball drills, punch drills (6 inch punch into the opponent), mirror drills, two man bull-sled drills, and even more about each offensive line position regarding hips and footwork. Assistant Coach Callahan needs to convince Jay Gruden to incorporate more counter moves so Callahan can teach our offensive line how to work in unison like the old Hogs. They need work on inside zone blocking and outside zone blocking. Having a fullback would have a positive impact on the Redskins running game.
No famous running back would have become famous without having a good fullback blocking for him. In 1969, Vince Lombardi had the great running back Larry Brown and then so did Head Coach George Allen. Much of Larry Brown’s success was due to the blocking of Charley Harraway on the edge. Our running game needs deception, creativity and creating mismatches. This vanilla run game needs to be replaced with some Rocky Road flavor. I think Gruden could use Mack Brown as a fullback to lead the way for “Fat Rob” Kelley, Samaje Perine or Chris Thompson. Fullbacks also provide protection for the quarterback on pass plays since they are larger, stronger and good blockers to stop a pass rusher. HTTR.
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