Early in the season when the defense looked great, the run defense was the No. 1 reason for their success. They had the league’s best unit in that regard through the first month of the year, and outside of their putrid showing again Dallas there were few instances of teams able to get through them in the early going.
Though most of their plays overall against the run have still been positive, they’ve begun showing an unfortunate inability to block out big plays from gashing them, and it has undone their efforts to an alarming degree.
For example: Tennessee racked up 154 yards on the ground in their contest two weeks ago, but most of that came out of three big rushing plays (75, 10, and 19 yards, respectively); past that, they had 28 carries for 40 yards.
Washington did things somewhat differently, but to basically the same conclusion.
On the night Green Bay actually forced Washington into 16 different rushing attempts which went for three yards or less (including four for negative yardage); outside of three big plays, they only managed a meager 57 yards on 27 carries. Because of those big plays though, Washington finished the night with 151 yards on 30 rushes.
While Tennessee managed their big plays through misdirection/fakes and using Green Bay’s overeagerness against them, Washington used bashing the ball down the Packers’ throat to get theirs. Robert “Fat Rob” Kelly acted as Washington’s battering ram, bashing into the line and never stopping his feet. As stated before most of those runs didn’t go for much, but as Cris Collinsworth kept mentioning on the broadcast, Fat Rob was turning losses into short gains and showing off an ability to churn through tackles effectively.
It had an effect as the game wore on, and on those big plays (especially the last one, for 66 yards) and his touchdowns (he had three) it was clear the Packers were unable to muster the power to stop him.
Those huge gashes undid what would have been a mostly positive effort which now will be lost in the abyss this defense (and season) has become.