Redskins run defense must step up against Cowboys

Ben Krimmel
October 18, 2018 - 2:39 pm

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

If the Washington Redskins want to end a run of poor results against rival Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, the Redskins' run defense must play their best game of the season.

Last Sunday against Carolina the Redskins' defense rebounded from a dreadful performance against New Orleans, but the run defense is still underperforming. And while Washington is allowing just 90.2 rushing yards per game (sixth fewest in the NFL) and 4.1 yards per carry (tied for 12th best), the advanced metrics tell a more complete story and they are not as kind.

Football Outsiders ranks the Redskins defense as the third worst unit against the run and 23rd overall. And when looking at Washington's defensive line, the numbers are a bit more grim. The Redskins rank 30th in short yardage situations on third- and fourth-down runs and worst in the NFL at stuffing a running back at or behind the line of scrimmage.

Meanwhile, Football Outsiders ranks the Dallas run game as the ninth best in the NFL and with the 12th best run blocking offensive line. And the Cowboys are averaging 147.5 rushing yards per game and over five yards per carry, good for second best in the NFL this season.

Dallas is coming off a dominating performance against a usually stout Jaguars defense, putting up 206 yards on the ground and scoring two touchdowns. Running back Ezekiel Elliott got 24 of those carries and put up 106 yards. And in the pass-heavy era of the NFL, the Cowboys were able to control the game (38:50 time of possession) by running the ball 42 times to 27 passes.

With Alex Smith's offense struggling for big chunk plays and relying on long drives, the Redskins may find themselves in a bit of a time crunch on Sunday if the defense can't slow down the Cowboys rushing attack.

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