After another strong performance against the Dallas Cowboys, the Redskins' offense boasts the NFL's top rushing attack. Third-year fullback Darrel Young may not get much attention, but he has been the lead blocker for a pair of 600-plus-yard rushing performers in Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III. Redskins.com caught up with him earlier this week:
Q: Lots of questions have been answered in the backfield with the success of the Redskins running game this season. What has been the biggest difference for the team this season?
Young: "Guy's are just executing on the scheme. It's not a different scheme than what we've been doing, it's just guys believing and understanding and buying into the system. If you know the history of Shanahan, you'll know that his backs always rush for 1,000 yards, whether it be a free agent, whether it be a sixth-round pick like Terrell Davis.
"It's kind of ironic that Alfred is a sixth-round pick. I'm not going to say he's a hall of famer yet, but we'll see. It's just guys executing, that's the difference between the last two years and this year. Guys believing, wanting to do it. Guys coming to practice every day with the mindset we want to be better and we're just trying to win."
Q: You have a close relationship with all of your running backs, but what was your first impression of Alfred Morris? How has that grown over the course of the season?
Young:** "Alfred was a little weird at first, if you know Alfred. I've developed a certain bond of the guys that I block for or just being in the running back room with. I was kind of stuck on [Roy] Helu Jr., [Evan] Royster, [Tim] Hightower because those were the guys that we were with, and [Ryan] Torain.
"To have Alfred come in and just be as humble as he is, it's an honor to block for him and he's the man now. He's a guy that has a lot of determination a lot of passion. He plays the game with love and pride. Kind of reminds be a little of KG (Kevin Garnett), just from a basketball standpoint, just the way he loves the game.
"Alfred just works hard. He listens and that's the biggest thing a rookie has to do. I had [Mike] Sellers as a mentor and I'm trying to be a mentor for Alfred. It's kind of weird I'm the oldest guy in the room – year 4, I'm 25 – but just from an experience standpoint I'm just trying to help him just to be the best he can be."
Q: When you were dreaming of playing in the NFL, could you have ever imagined that you would be the lead back for the NFL's top rushing offense?
Young: "No I didn't to be honest with you. I thought I'd still be on defense. When Shanahan said we want to make the switch to make you be on offense, I said 'cool why not.' There are 13 linebackers only one fullback, I'm going to take my chances at fullback. I had a great mentor like Mike Sellers who taught me everything that I know just in terms of understanding the game at the professional level.
"College is cool, high school is cool, but the speed up here is different to understand. Everyone has the ability to play, everybody can play in the NFL; it's about how fast you do it and understanding what your opponent is going to do. I had a great mentor and I have a great coaching staff, I love Kyle [Shanahan].
"He gave me a great opportunity and I can always say whatever happens from here on out, whether my contract situation, whether they cut me, I can always thank the Shanahan's for allowing me to live my dream. Everything from here on out is on me."
Q: With five receptions and two receiving touchdown this year, do you consider yourself a red zone threat?
Young: "No, I'm just trying to have fun to be honest. You never know. We do so many different things schematically from an offensive standpoint that you're going to keep guys on their heels. I think just about every guy on our offense has scored a touchdown so far. Royster's scored, Alfred's scored, I've score, [Hankerson]'s scored, and the list goes on. You have a bunch of different guys making plays and I think that just makes our system better and lets everyone know that you can't double Pierre [Garçon], can't double Santana Moss.
"Sky's the limit; we're just scratching the surface. The rushing game is just getting started. We're going to be No. 1 at the end of the year. Our special teams are starting to click. We had a couple miscues early on in the season with two blocked punts but we're always Nos. 1 and 2 with kickoff and punt coverage in the league. We're top-10 right now, we're not where we want to be but we'll get better."
Q: The Redskins are still in the hunt for the playoffs, with a huge game on Monday night. What do you have to do to win this game?
Young: "[The Giants game] is the biggest because it's the next game; it's not any different because it's an NFC East game. We just have to go out there and do the things that we didn't do in the first game and that's actually execute on third down. We have to keep ourselves on the field and not let our defense play for so long.
"We controlled the clock a little bit [against the Giants in Week 7]. The first three quarters we were killing it, we had fun but we had 4 turnovers on offense. Any time you have four turnovers and still have a chance to win, your defense has done a great job. Defense played their part; we know what they'll do. We'll play our part on offense, and let it fall into place."
Q: How has Robert Griffin III changed the way this offense plays, specifically what you do as a fullback?
Young: "I haven't heard anyone talk about how bad we were last year, so I think just from a positive standpoint of analysts and people just talk about his upside. I think that just brings happiness around the team and the media has different things to talk about.
"I think for me as a football player, I think him being able to run has a different threat. It's 11-on-11 now as opposed to 10-on-11. Teams have to respect him if we're doing our keeper game. If he's going to roll out, that cut back lane is going to be there. I think that opens up the lane for Alfred, we run reverses; we throw a lot of different things.
"[Joshua Morgan] throwing that pass to [Griffin III] in Pittsburgh--was it smart? Yeah I think so. He got killed on it but he's a tough guy. You saw him jump up in the Panthers game after he got spun in the air so from a standpoint with him, he brings a lot of excitement to the game and to the Redskin Nation and we're just having a blast."