There was a lot of scrutiny on the Redskins’ play calling after their 34-19 loss to the Jets on Sunday. Specifically, it seemed to many that Kyle Shanahan quit calling the number of running back Roy Helu after the rookie enjoyed some early success. Let’s break down Helu’s 23 rushing attempts in a few different ways.
First--Total 11 plays, Helu 6 carries, 34 yards, TD
Second—Total 22 plays, Helu 5 carries 27 yards
Third—Total 12 plays, Helu 7 carries, 16 yards, fumble
Fourth—Total 27 plays, Helu 5 carries, 20 yards
Looking here, Helu’s workload was fairly well balanced through the game. In fact, he carried more in the second half (12 carries) than he did in the first (11). He ran on 36 percent of the first-half plays. And Helu carried the ball on 11 of the first 21 plays of the second half. The Redskins were behind on their last 18 plays of the game, which covered three possessions. Helu carried on just one of those plays.
1st: 12 carries, 48 yards
2nd: 10 carries, 40 yards
3rd: 1 carry, 12 yards
Drive number, plays, score at start of drive, Helu carries/yards, result of drive
1, 8 plays, 0-0, Helu 5/32 yards, Helu TD
2, 9 plays, 7-7, Helu 4/28 yards, FG
3, 5 plays, 10-7, Helu 1/3 yards, punt
4, 5 plays, 10-10, Helu 1/0 yards, punt
5, 6 plays, 10-10, Helu no carries, FG
6, 3 plays, 13-10, Helu 2/1 yards, punt
7, 3 plays, 13-10, Helu 1/0 yards, punt
8, 2 plays, 13-13, Helu 1/4 yards, Helu fumble lost
9, 3 plays, 13-13, Helu 2/9 yards, punt
10, 9 plays, 13-13, Helu 3/5 yards, punt
11, 3 plays, 13-13, Helu 2/3 yards, FG
12, 3 plays, 16-20, Helu no carries, Grossman lost fumble
13, 10 plays, 16-27, Helu no carries, FG
14, 5 plays, 19-34, Helu 1/12 yards, INT
Did Kyle quit calling runs on the last three possessions of the first half because the runs weren’t working? Or did they not work because he didn’t call them? It’s probably a little of both. If there is one period of the game where the Redskins can be rightfully accused of abandoning the run, it is during drives 3, 4, and 5. The final possession of this sequence started when Perry Riley recovered a muffed punt at the Jets 18. The Redskins had all three of their timeouts but they didn’t once give it to Helu. They left four points on the table by settling for a field goal after getting the golden opportunity.
In the second half, however, it’s hard to see how the play calling constitutes abandoning the run. While the Redskins were tied or leading, they ran 23 plays and Helu ran 11 of them. That is balanced play selection. Perhaps you could nitpick and say that they should have run on the drive right after the Jets took a four-point lead. But that drive lasted just three plays.