HOFFMAN: Past visions lead to future Redskins hope

Craig Hoffman
December 01, 2019 - 6:46 pm

The Redskins were assembled as a smashmouth, run-first football team. The hope was a low turnover quarterback would make a few plays when he had to, while a stable of talented running backs carried the load, imposing their will on opponents.

At 2-9 entering Sunday, the dream came true far too late, but there's no doubt it came to fruition Sunday. Derrius Guice got the party started when the Redskins needed it most. Washington was down 14-0 and looked hopeless after two drives in the first quarter. Carolina had gained 130 yards and scored twice while Washington looked absolutely inept offensively.

Enter Guice, who caught a pass and then scampered 60 yards on his first carry of the day. Washington only netted a field goal on the drive, but it was enough to steady the ship.

Washington stuck with the run and Dwayne Haskins executed a few key conversions to keep some drives alive. The plays kept adding up and in the fourth quarter, and the dam eventually broke.

This was the strategy all along. Keep running with the physicality of Guice and Adrian Peterson and the two-to-three-yard carries early would turn into nine-to-10-yard carries late. Guice showed this on the Redskins first drive of the fourth quarter when he ripped off back-to-back eight-yard carries up the middle, neither of which was perfectly blocked.

He followed that up with a 38-yard scamper that included a vicious stiff-arm of Shaq Thompson and ended just short of the end zone. He punched it in for his second touchdown of the day on the very next play. He'd finish with 129 yards on just 10 carries with those two TDs.

"I give a lot of credit to the offensive line. I think those guys up front did a tremendous job," Bill Callahan said before giving further credit to his offensive line coach, Phil Rauscher, the tight ends and their coach, Brian Angelichio, and the wide receivers who also blocked extremely well.

Peterson wanted his turn behind the brigade and did well with it, gaining 29 yards on four rushes and a score in a five-play drive, to push Washington to its highest point total of the season at 29. The veteran finished with 99 yards on 13 carries and that score.

"They finally got to see the two-headed monster," Guice said about about he and Peterson. "Those are the days I've been waiting on since I tore my ACL."

Of course there was another part to that formula mentioned above, a quarterback who takes care of the football and makes enough plays to extend drives. Suddenly that has become Dwayne Haskins.

The rookie went 13-for-25 for 147 yards, but had zero turnovers in the win. Haskins was able to make plays when he had to and again showed a growing command of the offense. It wasn't pretty, nevertheless perfect, but it was the kind of performance that, when combined with this running game, was enough to win.

The defense should be commended as well after a disastrous start that looked like Washington may get blown out in a Jets-like repeat. They righted the ship, shored up coverage and started getting home with a pass rush that was missing its top three OLBs by the end of the game.

Special teams disaster and having to survive after a recovered onside kick aside, this was the dream. The Redskins rushed for 248 total yards, won the time-of-possession battle and stayed balanced on offense. 

The end result? A final play in victory formation, which Haskins happily lined up for after more than a few jokes. "Everybody did," he said smiling when asked after he missed the final play celebrating last week. "I did that. That's my fault."

It's a series of jokes Haskins was more than happy to be the butt of. Victory formations for your team are good, whether you're in them or not. They are especially sweet when you played a major part in getting there, which the offensive nucleus of Guice and Haskins most certainly did.

The 2019 season still is going nowhere, but suddenly there is a glimmer of hope of what could be in Washington.

Craig Hoffman is the Redskins beat reporter for 106.7 The Fan. His post-game columns are powered by Dell EMC and TVAR Solutions -- transforming the federal data center.

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