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Redskins Look to Jump-Start Run Game


Offensively, the Redskins feel they are better than their ranking of 28th in the NFL.

They intend to prove it.

"We're too talented on offense to be where we are at right now in the league," Jason Campbell said. "We shouldn't be that far down."

As coaches and players resumed practice this week, there was a feeling that the offense needed to, as Campbell put it, "get back to the basics" and "hold each other accountable."

That means, following the Redskins' 52-7 loss to the New England Patriots, a renewed emphasis on things the offense does well.

Joe Gibbs emphasizes a balanced offense, but his past suggests he also believes in a strong running game. Since opening the 2007 season with 191 rushing yards in a win over Miami and 130 more in a win at Philadelphia in Week 2, the Redskins' ground attack has struggled.

In the last three weeks, the Redskins' ground attack has had 73 rushes for 214 yards, a 2.9 yards-per-carry average.

The run offense is ranked 18th in the NFL.

Gibbs pointed to the Arizona game in Week 7, in which the Redskins won 21-19 at FedExField, as symbolic of the offense's struggles.

"Two weeks ago, we rushed the ball 28 times and passed it 18, but we only had a 2.8-yard [rushing] average," Gibbs said. "You can't do that. We need to move the line of scrimmage."

Clinton Portis has 433 rushing yards and five touchdowns this season. His yards-per-carry average is 3.8, well below his career average of 4.7.

After missing most of training camp and preseason with knee tendonitis, Portis has had to work himself into game shape. He says one thing he needs to improve on right now is his balance as a runner.

"It's just the determination of not touching the ground," he said. "It's whatever it takes--fighting for extra yards, getting everything out of every run that I have to. I have to get the maximum amount of yards that I can get out of it.

"If it's another one to two yards that I can gain by fighting and pushing the pile, then that's what I have to do. If I can come up out of some of the arm tackles, a lot of the leg swipes, just get my balance back.

"That's really what I've been gearing towards--just to make sure my balance is there. If I stay up on a couple of runs, I can break one."

Last year, the Redskins' offense finished fourth overall in run offense. It was expected that the unit would pick up right where it left off--and perhaps be even better with Portis back in the lineup.

Injuries along the offensive line have complicated matters, though. Jon Jansen is out for the year with a leg injury and Randy Thomas hopes to return in December after rehabbing from a triceps injury.

They have been replaced by veterans Todd Wade and Jason Fabini. As newcomers on the Redskins' offensive line this season, Wade, Fabini and Pete Kendall have had to mesh quickly.

So going back to the basics should help them the most.

"It's not necessarily the play calling, but it's what we do in practice," Wade said. "It's everybody being more accountable to each other. It's everybody involved in the running game.

"We are 4-3 right now, so it's not time to surrender. We have a lot of games left, and we can really make something great out of this season."

Added Campbell: "It's just more of a recommitment. A lot of times, it's just us finishing plays or finishing out drives. It's what can we do mentally to stop [making mistakes]--whether it's jumping off-sides, whether it's overthrowing a pass, whether it's dropping a pass or fumbling the football.

"Whatever it is, we have to correct all of those things and put it behind us. It's time for us to start playing like an NFL offense."

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