Run, Zorn, Run! Key To a Washington Redskins Victory Over Panthers is Rushing

Manny GeraldoCorrespondent IOctober 9, 2009

SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 23:  Head coach Jim Zorn of the Washington Redskins talks to running back Clinton Portis #26 after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 20-17 on November 23, 2008 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

"Either you run the day or the day runs you." - Jim Rohn

The mess of a win against the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers once again demonstrated the disarray that the Washington Redskins call an offense. It's a marvel the Redskins even won. Four turnovers. Lost the time of possession battle. Down 10-0 at the half. All against a winless team while playing at home.

With the addition of Sherman Lewis to the coaching staff, Zorn's seat just got a bit hotter. As Glenn Frey masterfully sung in one of the best soundtrack (Beverly Hills Cop) ditties of the 1980s, "the heat is on." Zorn needs to recognize that wins, not proving his system works, is the key to his longevity as coach...even if it is only until season's end.

The Redskins get another blessing of an opponent this Sunday in the winless Carolina Panthers. This is another week for the Redskins to correct their mistakes and nab a victory against a lesser team. The word "lesser" is used gingerly after the vomit inducing Lions loss.

Zorn's game plan this Sunday needs to be simple—RUN. When the Redskins commit to the run, they win. When they neglect the run, they lose. Simple, right?

Much has been said about Clinton Portis' durability and how much petro is left in the tank. Leave it to rest. CP can play now, this season. He has the ability to be a consistent 100 yard rusher and the 'Skins need to utilize his abilities. Starting running backs should and need to carry the ball between 20-25 times a game. It paces the offense and keeps the defense honest.

In the Redskins' two  losses this season, they were outrushed by their opponents and Portis was underused by Zorn. In the season opening loss to the New York Giants, Portis ran 16 times for 62 yards. The Redskins as a team rushed only 21 times, compared to the Giants 31. 

The Redskins managed a measly 14 attempts against the Lions, despite Detroit ranking in the bottom half of the NFL's rushing defenses. Portis tallied 12 carries for 42 yards. Three carries a quarter? I'm surprised Detroit didn't switch to a 2-5 defense. There was no threat of the Redskins running the ball.

The tale of the tape differs for both the Redskins' wins. In the narrow win against St.Louis, Washington recorded 33 rushing attempts. Portis carried 19 times for 79 yards and the Redskins dominated the time of possession by over nine minutes.

In the come from behind win against Tampa Bay, Zorn finally committed to running with Portis. Portis, still nursing a calf injury, carried the ball 25 times for 98 yards. Washington, as a team, tallied 35 rushing attempts, the most of the season.

Zorn needs to take note of the results and commit to running the ball against Carolina. The Panthers have the NFL's 26th ranked rush defense. In three games, the Panthers have given up 548 rush yards for a whopping 182.7 rush yards per game.

In all three of the Panther's losses, the winning team has averaged nearly 34 rushing attempts. When in doubt, follow the trend. The Panthers are susceptible to the run and the Redskins need to exploit that.

So Zorn, bring on the burgundy and gold rush. The proof is in the pudding.  Running the ball is the key to winning the game.