Roy Helu Gives Washington Redskins Ideal Balance in Rushing Attack

Matthew BrownCorrespondent IOctober 24, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 20:  Roy Helu #29 of the Washington Redskins runs past James Anderson #50 of the Chicago Bears in the third quarter during an NFL game at FedExField on October 20, 2013 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Sitting at 2-4 in the middle of an underwhelming division, the Washington Redskins have had to deal with a lot of problems to start the season. In the last few weeks, they've seen their offense round into form with a huge spark coming from running back Roy Helu.

A healthy Helu gives the 'Skins offense a perfect one-two punch in tandem with Alfred Morris, as well as taking pressure off of Robert Griffin III.

Helu's presence has brought a balance to Washington's ground game that had been missing through the first three games of the season. Then in Week 4, he logged 13 carries for 41 yards and a touchdown, as well as two receptions for another 43 yards.

Playing from behind in the first three weeks of the season didn't help Morris' rushing totals either, but Helu brought the perfect change of pace coming out of the bye week.

Helu's emergence as a wild card on offense has come at roughly the same time as Griffin's return to form, which couldn't have come at a better time.

Even though Griffin showed he is regaining the confidence and comfort in his legs, Helu offers a speedy option as both a rusher and receiver out of the backfield. If Griffin doesn't have to be the only speed option on the ground, defenses can't key on one ball carrier.

In short, the Redskins regain the element of surprise that made their rushing attack so dangerous last season.

Against the Chicago Bears, the Redskins rushed for 209 yards, which came on the heels of the 216-yard rushing performance against the Dallas Cowboys.

Against the Cowboys, Helu rushed for 42 yards while boasting a healthy seven yards per carry to go with 35 receiving yards.

With Helu in the mix, along with an increasingly healthier RGIII, the Redskins rushing attack is scarier than it was last season.

Defenses can't load up the box to stop the run if Helu is on the field because he can slip out on play action, go on a route, and pick up big yards on a reception. Morris didn't offer the same receiving threat last season, nor has he been that outlet this season.

Morris provides the inside toughness and finish-forward running, while Helu is more elusive and versatile while also being able to take some punishment.

Sep 29, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Washington Redskins running back Roy Helu (29) runs the ball against the Oakland Raiders in the third quarter at Coliseum. The Redskins defeated the Raiders 24-14. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of the day, splitting the workload between two capable backs is good for everyone involved. Morris and Helu do enough to get in a rhythm without getting worn down and defenses can't stick to a single approach to stopping the run.

Helu and Morris offer variety, and make the play action work, which means Griffin will be able to find success in the passing game, and the Redskins can work the true read-option formation back into their offense.

The Redskins offense was in dire need of a spark like Helu to put their rushing attack back into the NFL's elite tier, and in just a few weeks it has.

Washington's rushing offense is currently ranked eighth in the NFL, averaging 141.5 yards per game. In two weeks they nearly doubled their rushing yards from 444 to 849, while averaging 5.1 yards per carry, good enough for second in the NFL.

Over the last three weeks, the Redskins have averaged 182.3 rushing yards per game, and if that trend continues, they'll be back at the top of the league and well on their way to defending their division crown with the way the rest of the NFC East has played this season.

Whether you chalk it up to Griffin getting back to himself, or Helu coming back into the fold, the point is that the Redskins have a formidable ground game again.

In a league dictated by gaudy passing numbers and quarterback-driven offenses, the Redskins, with Helu, Morris and Griffin, are an exciting ground to watch.