- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 1, 2001

The Riggo Drill is back.
The Washington Redskins are running over opponents literally like their past championship teams. The 1983 Super Bowl winners won behind running back John Riggins. The 1991 champions made "Charlie Ten Hitch" a staple up the middle.
Since first-year coach Marty Schottenheimer realized running back Stephen Davis is the offensive core following a team-record 2,723 yards over the past two years, the Redskins are averaging 15 minutes more offense per game. Scoring has tripled during the five-game winning streak, and third-down conversions increased nearly 50 percent to 41.3 after an awful nine of 47 over the opening month.
"That has to be a world record," Schottenheimer said of the failed third-down conversions. "We stared at so many third-and-10, -11, -12, and you're not going to convert those. When you run the football, you see a lot more third-and-3s and -4s."
Turning the versatile West Coast offense into a run-first scheme has reversed an 0-5 start entering tomorrow's Dallas Cowboys game at FedEx Field. Doubling Davis' carries, along with the meshing of the offensive line and an increasing comfort level by quarterback Tony Banks, has the Redskins averaging 15 more snaps during their five consecutive victories. Conversely, points allowed per game dropped from 28.8 to 12.2 during the streak as the defensive minutes were slashed from 40 to 24.
Washington has taken four straight time-of-possession edges with at least one 10-play drive per game. The Redskins even posted 14- and 15-play drives in their 13-3 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday.
The near nine-minute late drive that sealed the game was the epitome of the Redskins' new offensive tactics. Davis ran seven of nine plays before Ki-Jana Carter carried on the final five snaps. The Redskins finished with 45 carries for 155 yards.
"When a team knows you're going to run and can't stop you, it totally deflates the defense," Banks said. "We ran the same play three times in a row and still got decent yardage."
The Redskins devoured the clock with every first down that included two completions against nine-man blitzes. Banks searched the Eagles' eyes for their passion and saw a beaten team.
"I like seeing the looks on defensive linemen's faces when you convert third downs," he said. "You see the letdown in their eyes. Their head is down. You know you're in their head a little."
The final field goal was meaningless. The real victory came by absorbing all but the final 30 seconds.
"When we looked up at the clock and saw nine minutes, we said, 'Let's take as much time as we can. Seven, eight minutes. End up with a score so they would need two scores to beat us,'" offensive tackle Jon Jansen said. "To take up the whole time and score was special to us."
Not that there weren't a few moments of screaming legs near the end of a three-hour game on Veteran Stadium's crummy turf. Linemen faked energy by hustling to the line despite knowing the afternoon's soreness wouldn't leave for several days.
"Everybody said, 'Come on, we have a chance to rest afterwards.' Just a lot of talk keeping guys up," Jansen said. "You want to make sure at the end of the game to run from the huddle because the D-line sees you have that energy and they think, 'Here we go again.'"
Linemen prefer run blocking for its more aggressive style than pass blocking, but the Redskins surprised the Eagles with three-step drops for 11- and 13-yard completions.
"Linemen hate pass blocking," receiver Michael Westbrook said. "Everybody hates the pass but the receivers and quarterback, so it's always three against everyone else."
Banks' completion to Rod Gardner came while throwing off his heels under the heavy blitz to prove the Redskins aren't simply a running team. Still, the pass was largely shelved.
"Defenses have to be on their heels because we're just as prone to running on third down as we are to throwing," he said.
Running on third downs? Riggo would have liked that.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide