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Can WFT Run Back Into Playoff Chase?

As defenses prepare to face Washington, can the running trend continue?

The Washington Football Team running attack has been impressive as of late. 

In 2021 WFT is ranked 9th in rush offense entering Week 13, averaging 125.5 yards per game as this part of the game has become a clear focal point for offensive coordinator, Scott Turner.

“I think every game plays itself out differently,” Turner told media about the rise in run plays in the Washington offensive attack. “We felt pretty good about the ability to run the ball in the last two games…When you’re doing that and you’re playing downhill, you take the pressure off of the quarterback…if you want to be a great offense, you’ve got to be able to beat people with the run game, you gotta be able to beat people with the pass game and you gotta be able to do it all.”

Clearly, the aim is being good in all phases of the game, and all the sub-phases within those. 

Having a strong running attack like Washington is just one part. 

In two of the past three games, running back Antonio Gibson has received a new career-high in carries within a single contest. Because of this, he now has six career games with 20 rushes or more, with four of those coming this season alone. 

Keeping that trend going this weekend figures to be a reasonable expectation, as the Las Vegas Raiders currently have the 25th ranked rush defense in the NFL. 

It isn’t just the running backs contributing to the WFT success on the ground this year. As Turner points out, there’s another group who’s enjoying this trend, and helping to create it, as well.

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“They’re happier when we run the ball a lot more,” Turner laughed about the WFT offensive line. “That’s just the nature of the position. You wouldn’t want it any other way…There’s a lot less pressure on them when you’re running the ball and the defensive line is having to play both instead of just having to drop back in pass pro…It just all ties together that way.”

Turner also talked about the importance of taking pressure off the quarterback. 

The Washington Football Team is 5-5 in the 10 games Taylor Heinicke has started in place of Ryan Fitzpatrick following his hip injury suffered in Week 1 of the season. 

When Turner’s offense has asked Heinicke - or needed him - to throw more than 35 times, Washington is 1-4. 

Alternately, when Heinicke throws the ball 35 times or fewer WFT is 4-1. 

Running the ball has become increasingly important for Washington in 2021, and the next opponent looks ripe and ready to be beaten in the same manner. 

A concept complicated with news the team’s second back, J.D. McKissic will miss the weekend’s contest due to a concussion suffered against the Seattle Seahawks. 

Of course, if the Washington Football Team does need more throwing from its quarterback, having Curtis Samuel back will certainly help matters.

This leaves Gibson, Heinicke (the team’s second-leading rusher), and Jaret Patterson (32 carries, 104 yards, 3.3 ypa) to carry the team, literally and figuratively.