Jay Gruden is an underrated head coach in the NFL. That’s why it is a shame he’s been saddled with the Washington Redskins, one of the most notoriously inept franchises in the league. Gruden is known for several things: good offensive philosophy, quality quarterback coaching, and strong preparation. He’s also known for being a straight shooter. He’s not afraid to tell it like it is. That’s why his comments regarding the Chicago Bears run defense was hardly out of character.
Last season the Bears were #1 in the NFL against the run. This season? Not much has changed. They currently rank 6th in the league, allowing just 68.5 yards per game. This despite facing more attempts per game than the other five teams ranked ahead of them. Such is a testament to how good this group is. Gruden is one man who has taken notice. Like any coach, he’d love to establish the run but he stated quite frankly to the Chicago Sun-Times that he has no such expectations for Monday Night.
“I say we want to run the ball, but they’re a very difficult team to run the ball against. I might have to wait until next week.”
Such lack of confidence may sound odd for a head coach. That is until one sees what the Redskins have accomplished on the ground through two weeks. They have 75 yards on 30 carries. Good for just 2.5 yards per attempt. They’ve already lost Derrius Guice to a knee injury and have been forced to lean on the 34-year old Adrian Peterson. Making matters even worse? It would seem Peterson is not happy with the organization.
Chicago Bears run defense is as tough as they come
Apparently Peterson and others within the organization were not happy when the running back was benched for Week 1 against Philadelphia. Something the veteran hasn’t forgiven them for. His return in Week 2 didn’t help though. Part of the problem is the offensive line isn’t what it was last year. This due in large part to the absence of left tackle Trent Williams who is holding out over major disagreements with the Redskins training staff. They also replaced steady veteran left guard Shawn Lauvao with former Giants 1st round pick Ereck Flowers.
Peterson may have been able to work with minimal blocking seven years ago but he’s not that player anymore.
So what makes this run defense so tough? It centers around the excellent front seven that GM Ryan Pace has constructed. It started with nose tackle Eddie Goldman, one of the best at his position in football. Then there’s Akiem Hicks who never gets enough credit for his work against the ground game. Khalil Mack is also underrated on this front. Last but certainly not lease are the two inside linebackers. Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan combined for 25 tackles in the win over Denver. They fly to the football.
This group just got done holding the Broncos to 90 yards on 24 carries. An offense that featured Pro Bowl running back Phillip Lindsay. They feel they can stop anybody and there’s no reason to doubt that will change in Washington.