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The Redskins and the game-breaking run


(By John McDonnell - TWP)


Sunday's 27-yard run by Clinton Portis, which concluded with an intentional fall, has become one of the dominant stories of this Redskins week. Whether you think he should have kept going, think his ball security was admirable, think he was about to get tackled anyhow, or think it's an irrelevant topic that had little bearing on the game's outcome, you've likely read about the run on the Internet, heard it discussed on talk radio, watched spoof videos, imagined it in your sleep when attempting to piece together how in the world your fantasy team (starring Portis) lost by 1.3 points when you were playing against a team quarterbacked by the stinking corpse of....

Wait, where was I? Oh yeah, the undercurrent of the Portis discussion is this: why don't the Redskins seem to have a running back who hits that second level of the defense and then is gone? Why does Steven Jackson turn his longest run into a game-breaking 42-yard touchdown, while the Redskins settle for a first down? Why does it seem like this has been happening for years?

Well, because it has been happening for years. I just wasted much of my afternoon looking at the recent history of 40+ yard runs in the NFL. There have been 278 of them since the start of the 2006 season. The Redskins have one in that span. One. And it was that bizarre 78-yard jaunt by Clinton Portis against the Chiefs last year in which he failed to score and the team settled for three points.

Remember Ryan Torain's 36-yard carry on Sunday, his first-ever carry as a Redskin, which came two days after he was promoted from the practice squad? In two of the past four seasons, that would have qualified as the Redskins' longest ground gain of the year. They just don't run far distances, these fellows.

( I should note that Portis does have several long receptions in this span, including a 54-yarder in 2007 and a 74-yarder in 2006.)

Stilll, here are some players who, by themselves, have more 40+ yard runs since 2006 than the Redskins. DeShawn Wynn. LenDale White. Travis Henry. Warrick Dunn. Larry Johnson. Willie Parker. Tiki Barber. Najeh Davenport. Selvin Young. A whole bunch of quarterbacks, including Donovan McNabb, have as many as the Redskins in that span.

In three games this season, Chris Johnson already has two runs that qualify. The Redskins, you'll recall, have played 67 games since the start of 2006, and THEY ONLY HAVE ONE.

I posted this stat on Twitter, and the great Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York pointed out that Albert Haynesworth, on his own, has far more 40-yard runs than the team's running backs, if you get what I mean.

There's probably not a huge correlation between 40+ yard runs and Super Bowl victories. The Colts hardly appear on the list either, and the Patriots are far from dominant in the category. But it just seems like it'd be a nice thing to see a guy break through a hole and then keep running for a while before eventually handing the ball to an official in the end zone. Instead of, you know, falling down.

Here's the full list, if you're extremely bored right now. This is from the start of the 2006 season, only counting regular-season games, and it's based on me scanning NFL stat lists, so it's certainly possible there's an eyes-glazed-over mistake in here.

1. Adrian Peterson 13
2. Frank Gore 12
2. Chris Johnson 12
2. LaDainian Tomlinson 12
5. Steven Jackson 9
5. Maurice Jones-Drew 9
5. DeAngelo Williams 9
8. Larry Johnson 7
8. Michael Turner 7
10. Jamaal Charles 6
10. Jerious Norwood 6
12. Ronnie Brown 5
12. Ryan Grant 5
12. Felix Jones 5
12. Maurice Morris 5
12. Steve Slaton 5
12. Fred Taylor 5
13. Matt Forte 4
13. Marshawn Lynch 4
13. Laurence Maroney 4
13. Willis McGahee 4
13. Sammy Morris 4
13. Ray Rice 4
13. Jonathan Stewart 4
13. Leon Washington 4
26. Tiki Barber 3
26. Cedric Benson 3
26. Michael Bush 3
26. Justin Fargas 3
26. Earnest Graham 3
26. Thomas Jones 3
26. Jamal Lewis 3
26. Willie Parker 3
26. Chester Taylor 3
26. Ricky Williams 3
26. Selvin Young 3
37. Marion Barber 2
37. Mike Bell 2
37. Ahmad Bradshaw 2
37. Reggie Bush 2
37. Najeh Davenport 2
37. Warrick Dunn 2
37. Jerome Harrison 2
37. Travis Henry 2
37. Tim Hightower 2
37. Brandon Jacobs 2
37. Julius Jones 2
37. LaMont Jordan 2
37. LeSean McCoy 2
37. Rashard Mendenhall 2
37. Derrick Ward 2
37. LenDale White 2
37. DeShawn Wynn 2
54. Joseph Addai 1
54. Kahlil Bell 1
54. Tatum Bell 1
54. Michael Bennett 1
54. Chris Brown 1
54. Donald Brown 1
54. Correll Buckhalter 1
54. Tashard Choice 1
54. Mark Clayton 1
54. Patrick Cobbs 1
54. Kenneth Darby 1
54. Corey Dillon 1
54. DeDe Dorsey 1
54. Reuben Droughns 1
54. T.J. Duckett 1
54. Kevin Faulk 1
54. Arian Foster 1
54. DeShaun Foster 1
54. Ted Ginn 1
54. Ahman Green 1
54. Andre Hall 1
54. Peyton Hillis 1
54. Brandon Jackson 1
54. DeSean Jackson 1
54. Fred Jackson 1
54. Kevin Jones 1
54. Deuce McAllister 1
54. LaRon McClain 1
54. Darren McFadden 1
54. Donovan McNabb 1
54. Robert Meachem 1
54. Lorenzo Neal 1
54. Artose Pinner 1
54. Antonio Pittman 1
54. Clinton Portis 1
54. Montell Owens 1
54. Eddie Royal 1
54. Bernard Scott 1
54. Brad Smith 1
54. Kevin Smith 1
54. Pierre Thomas 1
54. Michael Vick 1
54. Darius Walker 1
54. Javon Walker 1
54. Leonard Weaver 1
54. Brian Westbrook 1
54. Vince Young 1

By Dan Steinberg  | September 29, 2010; 4:19 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Comments

Poor downfield blocking might also be a contributing factor to the Redskins' lack of long runs.

Posted by: disgruntledfan | September 29, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Unless they turn him into a full time fullback, this is why Portis needs to go.

Posted by: CapsNut | September 29, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

If this list proves anything, and I'm not sure that it does, it's that any ole running back can have a fluke 40 yard run in a game. But longterm success is much, much harder.

Looking at the names on this list, it's obvious that having a 40 yard run on your resume isn't indicative of longterm success at this level. How many of these backs have gained 1500 yards in a season in the same time span? Clinton Portis has (well technically 1487 yards to be exact in 08, which followed a 1262 yard season in 07 as well)

Posted by: Barno1 | September 29, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

And how the frick does Larry Johnson have seven? I mean, I understand the concept of losing a step, but 2006 wasn't that long ago. That guy must've aged eight years last January alone.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | September 29, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Barno1! Thank you so much for pointing out that having long term success if harder than having a successful career. THANK YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH!

If anything, this is another indictment of the pitiful state our o-line has been in over the past few years. Another OT in the draft and some younger RBs, and we might have something there.

Posted by: Andymr | September 29, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Barno1! Thank you so much for pointing out that having long term success if harder than having a successful career. THANK YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH!

If anything, this is another indictment of the pitiful state our o-line has been in over the past few years. Another OT in the draft and some younger RBs, and we might have something there.

Posted by: Andymr | September 29, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

"Thank you, Barno1! Thank you so much for pointing out that having long term success if harder than having a successful career. THANK YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH!"

Hate to burst your bubble but I didn't that. And...that made no sense.

Posted by: Barno1 | September 29, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Just something you football geniuses might want to consider while you are all bashing Portis and claiming he is over the hill: many of you football geniuses thought the same very thing about Santana Moss a few years ago. In fact, we've been hearing that about Moss since about 06 or 07...but a quick glance at the NFL statistics and I notice he is in the top 5 in several major categories...including catches, yards, and 1st downs. Maybe if you all were way wrong about Moss, perhaps you might also be wrong about Portis?

And on a completely unrelated topic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ib5H5auk-c

Posted by: Barno1 | September 29, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

You were right about one thing. I was extremely bored by the time I read that.

Posted by: dcc1968 | September 29, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

I'd actually like to see the 40+ yard reception stats too, so poo on people like dcc

Posted by: trousers | September 29, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Wow. C + C Music Factory? Just wow.

And nobody is talking about long careers. It would just be nice for Clinton to bust a long td run. I think that is something we can all agree on

Posted by: jpfterps | September 29, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Sure, but I'd rather have a guy who doesn't get many 40 yard runs but will get you well over 1000 yds on the ground every season.

Posted by: Barno1 | September 29, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

But Barno, Ladell Betts was a 1000 yd guy in 2006 and I don't think anybody would confuse him with a game changer. 1000 yard backs were a dime a dozen in the Shanahan offense. I'd rather have a guy who can go the distance. Riggo's run in SB17 is far less impressive if he gets tackled or falls down at the 10 yard line... that is the kind of non-production that the Skins consistently get. They are the team that very rarely gets big running plays and often drops game-clinching INTs.

Posted by: calhokie | September 30, 2010 2:06 AM | Report abuse

When Portis (or any other Skins back runs) the other team has 3-4 guys gaining on him and getting ready to tackle and /or cause a fumble.

When other teams' backs run against the Skins, it is the opposite. We have 3-4 guys trailing the running back and acting as observers as the runner heads for the end zone.

With the lack of draft choices again next season, the rebuild of the team is going to be a long process.

Posted by: bbmcoachk | September 30, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Why even have this discussion. YOU ALL KNOW IT'S THE OFFENSIVE LINE!

Even when Portis was getting his 1500 seasons, the offensive line was mediocre.

We took a runner who had plenty of long runs with Denver and brought him here and turned him into a bruiser, even though his size dictated otherwise.

Like SO many others, once Portis donned the red & yellow, his production declined.

Did you notice how many times McNabb dropped back, had time, but couldn't find anyone open. After Sunday I'm sure he knows that the skins talent level is the worst of all the NFC East teams.

Only a small part of this is Portis' age. The majority should fall on the guys up front AND downfield blocking.

Posted by: keedrow | September 30, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

But Barno, Ladell Betts was a 1000 yd guy in 2006 and I don't think anybody would confuse him with a game changer. 1000 yard backs were a dime a dozen in the Shanahan offense. I'd rather have a guy who can go the distance. Riggo's run in SB17 is far less impressive if he gets tackled or falls down at the 10 yard line... that is the kind of non-production that the Skins consistently get. They are the team that very rarely gets big running plays and often drops game-clinching INTs.

Posted by: calhokie | September 30, 2010 2:06 AM | Report abuse

That made no sense at all dude. We are talking about long term success in this league vs short term, and you point out someone who had short term success. You are helping prove my point about how rare it is to have someone with Portis's production over a long period of time. Betts was a one (half) season wonder.

Posted by: Barno1 | September 30, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Wow, only two for Reggie Bush. Remember all the heat Casserly took, because Bush was "going to change the game of football"? Looks like the Redskins would have been light years ahead if they kept Charlie and not my cousin vinnie!

Posted by: 54465446 | September 30, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Who traded a future Hall of Fame CB for Portis? Joe Gibbs did.

The same Joe that brought in Archuleta, Randle El (overpaid non-Pro Bowler), WR from SF that was a bust, Jason after giving away THREE picks, an old Brunell that cost a pick or two, Leron who has yet to make the Pro Bowl, Suisham the PK that missed a 10 yr FG last year against the Saints. That Joe Gibbs that fans stuck in 1988 carefully choose to criticize. The Joe that set the Skins back 10 years despite 2 playoff runs no one outside DC recalls.

Back to Portis. What dummies traded Champ for Portis? Portis is losing cause he's playing with nothing, but HE still looks good and is still an all pro. Can't say the same about Portis. Blame Joe Gibbs.

And I though that anyone could run under Shanny?

Posted by: morrisday1 | September 30, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Who traded a future Hall of Fame CB for Portis? Joe Gibbs did.

The same Joe that brought in Archuleta, Randle El (overpaid non-Pro Bowler), WR from SF that was a bust, Jason after giving away THREE picks, an old Brunell that cost a pick or two, Leron who has yet to make the Pro Bowl, Suisham the PK that missed a 10 yr FG last year against the Saints. That Joe Gibbs that fans stuck in 1988 carefully choose to criticize. The Joe that set the Skins back 10 years despite 2 playoff runs no one outside DC recalls.

Back to Portis. What dummies traded Champ for Portis? Portis is losing cause he's playing with nothing, but HE still looks good and is still an all pro. Can't say the same about Portis. Blame Joe Gibbs.

And I though that anyone could run under Shanny?

Posted by: morrisday1 | September 30, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Correction:
Champ is losing cause he's playing with nothing, but HE still looks good and is still an all pro. Can't say the same about Portis. Blame Joe Gibbs.

Posted by: morrisday1 | September 30, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Morrisday1, I seriously hope for your sake you are 7 years old or younger.

Posted by: Barno1 | September 30, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

...and so the story goes. The GENIUS is a passionate owner who wants nothing more than to bring Washington the best football. Yet for his passion he cannot figure out how to hire people to bring this result. On the other hand, the GENIUS has figured out how to make money with a losing team. All you have to do is appeal to the demographic. That means appeal to the glory days when somebody else managed to win the super bowl and echo those days. Suggest to the fans that those glory days are just a few steps away. Draw on themes such as the Hogs, Smash Mouth Running, Joe Gibbs, George Allen and the future is now. The stadium fills, $12 beers are bought and consumed, it's a wonderful day.

And still the Redskins fail to win. But it doesn't matter because the GENIUS has figured out that the consuming public are too stupid to figure this one out. Like lambs to the slaughter fans give up their hard earned dollars in support of the Redskins. The Redskins, one of the most profitable losing teams in the NFL.

Long live the GENIUS.

Posted by: 44fx2901 | September 30, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Ok, maybe I am a complete homer. That is the first time I remember seeing CP take a dive. I see CJ someone who, usually, fights for the one additional yard through an offensive line that stinks, year after year.

You know what else I see? He picks up the blitz better than any back in the NFL. He runs down field to level a defender so a receiver can pick up an extra yard. He has to be trying to play hurt, only excuse.

But I also see Mike Sellers, when lined up in the backfield as a blocker, continually miss the blitzer, hit the wrong hole, basically miss assignments. If the play isn't designed to go to Mikey, he takes that play off, even though he might be on the field.

CP isn't what he used to be, but I for one am going to extend him some benefit of the doubt.

Posted by: joeyndan | September 30, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

44fx2901 - What it sound like to ME is that it's not HIM, but desperate and dillusional fans that are just as desperate as he is for a quick fix while refusing to accept that the product is inferior. Until they stop supporting the team, they are no different in my eyes than the owner.

Posted by: keedrow | September 30, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Until they stop supporting the team, they are no different in my eyes than the owner.

Posted by: keedrow | September 30, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

What a great fan you must be. Quit on your team when the times aren't good. I'm sure when your team is back in the playoffs, you're their number one fan though.

Fairweather fans: the worst people on earth

Posted by: Barno1 | September 30, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Barno1 - I'm not a fan. I gave up on the skins 5 or 6 years ago.

I can't wait until football season rolls around every year, but I simply refuse to get excited every year about this dsyfunctional organization, from the owner, to whomever's coaching, to dillusional fans like yourself who end up with the same gut-wrenching feeling every year after about 10 games.

Posted by: keedrow | September 30, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Portis and Moss are afraid to get hit. They are like boxers who stay to long and accident victims who get the shakes. Moss is more interested in his first down celebration than getting sandwiched by a sefety. SKins need to dump all the oldies and concentrate on the draft.

Posted by: jercha | September 30, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how many "voluntary falling downs" recorded in the same period. I bet CP would be right up there with the top of the pack...

Posted by: KarK | September 30, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I have to credit Dan Snyder as a GREAT owner, the best in team sports.

Why?
Name another owner that's lost or been so average to bad for so long? And still have his fans go crazy day after week after month after year after season.

Lions owner and fans? Nope
Browns? Nope
Bengals? Wrong again

DC? You got it
Dumb owner with a fan following like following a 1980 Pinto (to no where annually) like no where else

Posted by: morrisday1 | September 30, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

I have to credit Dan Snyder as a GREAT owner, the best in team sports.

Why?
Name another owner that's lost or been so average to bad for so long? And still have his fans go crazy day after week after month after year after season.

Lions owner and fans? Nope
Browns? Nope
Bengals? Wrong again

DC? You got it
Dumb owner with a fan following like following a 1980 Pinto (to no where annually) like no where else

Posted by: morrisday1 | September 30, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

good analysis on the washington owner with his hired frauds these so-called fans/fools will keep swilling down the bear and devouring the wurst no matter how much money it costs they are still re-living memory's of a time long gone and the way it has appeared for 20yrs it ain't coming back.. enjoy

Posted by: wathu19 | September 30, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

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