Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is the standard by which all NFL running backs are judged. Peterson has the agility to get around opposing defenders, the speed to sprint away from them and the power to run over them. He was named the 2012 NFL Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 2,097 yards, the second highest total in NFL history.
Despite Peterson’s rushing exploits, it was the Washington Redskins‘ rushing offense that led the league last season. The Redskins’ efforts were spearheaded by a pair of rookies, running back Alfred Morris as well as franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III. Redskins’ fans hoped that Griffin and Morris could continue their efficient running in 2013.
That hasn’t happened. While Morris is fifth in the NFL in rushing with 686 yards, Griffin hasn’t been running with the same ferocity as last year. Nevertheless, Washington is still a running team that needs sustained efficiency from its running game to become successful.
Although the Redskins’ are only 3-5, their running game has been responsible for two of their three victories. Reserve running back Roy Helu Jr. provides more than adequate depth behind Morris. Helu scored three touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown in a Week 7 victory over the Chicago Bears. Helu was also Washington’s leading rusher in 2011, thus proving his value to the Redskins.
Fullback Darrel Young is an unsung hero in Washington’s backfield as he provides the lead blocking for Morris and Helu. Washington’s Week 9 game against the San Diego Chargers provided the perfect backdrop for Young. He carried the ball only five times for 12 yards, but he also scored three touchdowns, including the game-winning one-yard run to beat the Chargers in overtime.
It’s possible that Peterson could outrush Griffin, Helu, Young, and Morris by himself. In any event, the Redskins may have to rely on these players’ running prowess if they are to defeat Minnesota on the road. If the Redskins can continue to run the ball well, they’ll have a chance to defeat the Vikings.