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SmootSmack 11-03-2005 01:25 AM

AP: Redskins Looking to Re-Emphasize Running Game
 
Redskins looking to re-emphasize running game


BY MICHAEL C. WRIGHT

Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)

ASHBURN, Va. - Statistics freaks, take a long look at the Washington Redskins' offensive numbers since coach Joe Gibbs returned.

Anything stick out?

Anything virtually guarantee victory?

Dating back to last season's opener, the Redskins are 9-0 when they log more rushing attempts than passes - a fact that's surprises Gibbs.

"I need to pay attention to the stats," he joked after learning about Washington's success rate when it runs.

"You're going to win a game every now and then throwing it a bunch, but that's not the way to go."

Which is a lesson Washington learned the hard way last week in a 36-0 loss to the New York Giants. The Redskins hope to avoid repeating those mistakes when they host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at FedEx Field.

"When you get out of balance (offensively), we get sacks and do everything else," Gibbs said. "Bad things happen, you turn the ball over. Week in and week out you've got to have balance. You've got to rush the football, we know that."

Obviously the Redskins forgot against the Giants.

Washington ran the ball five times while throwing 16 passes in the first two quarters, falling behind the Giants 19-0 at the half. Running back Clinton Portis finished the game with a career-low 9 yards on four carries and the team combined for 38 yards on 13 attempts.

Meanwhile, Redskins quarterbacks Mark Brunell and Patrick Ramsey combined to throw 34 passes for 127 yards in a losing effort.

"Statistics say you can throw for a ton of yards, but you're not going to win the ballgame," Gibbs said.

So why do it? Especially when you consider that Washington hasn't lost in the Gibbs era when it runs more than it passes.

Clearly, game situations dictate run-pass balance. Portis suffered a bone-jarring hit on the second play of Washington's second possession, rendering him ineffective. The Giants scored on two of their first three possessions, taking a 16-0 lead in the second quarter on a Jay Feely 33-yard field goal.

The Redskins hit the panic button on offense, opening up the passing game. But the lack of an efficient rushing attack affected the passing game.

"Sometimes when you get in a situation and try to make something happen in a hurry, it's hard," Gibbs said.

But the club can't afford to let that happen again this week against the Eagles, which rank No. 21 in rushing defense. Philadelphia has won its last seven against Washington, and despite the Redskins' poor performance last week, they remain optimistic about the possibility of rebounding against the Eagles.

"We lost our first game where we didn't stand a chance," receiver Santana Moss said. "That's what I take it as. That's the first game you can say we lost where we didn't put up nothing; we didn't do nothing."

That's why the Redskins hope to establish a running game early. Portis rushed for 80 yards and two TDs in last December's 17-14 loss to Philadelphia. That day Washington logged 45 pass attempts, compared to just 25 runs.

Interestingly, the Eagles stopped a potential Redskins comeback in the fourth quarter when Brian Dawkins intercepted a Patrick Ramsey pass in the end zone.

"Hopefully, we'll run the football the way we want to," Brunell said. "Our game plan is to be balanced. When we throw, (we want) to be able to be efficient, on time, accurate and complete some passes.

"When we run, we want to get blocks and make some big plays. You don't go into anything in any business wondering, `What's going to happen? If this goes bad, what do we do now?'

"You don't go into a game with that type of mindset."


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