DARREL YOUNG: SECRET WEAPON OR FORGOTTEN SOLIDER?
In this–the golden age of NFL passing–there is still a place for guys like Washington Redskins fullback Darrel Young.
The value of running back has supposedly been diminishing over the past several years, but don’t tell that to guys like Marshawn Lynch, Jammal Charles, Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice…and oh yeah – Alfred Morris. Rice and Peterson in particular can thank FBs Vonta Leach and Jerome Felton, respectively, for much of their success.
Despite all the gaudy passing stats busting the NFL’s record books wide open, plenty of teams still rely on their ground attack to drive their offense.
One of the reasons Alfred Morris has been so successful over the past two seasons (1,444 yds per season, 4.7 ypc) is because Darrel Young has been so good at removing obstacles in Morris’ path. Check out the replays of some of Morris’ longer runs: Young can usually be seen downfield leading the pack, looking for someone to slobberknock.
Young can hurt people in the passing game as well, as his 62-yard TD against the Eagles last season will attest.
However, all that activity has come with a price, though not in the area one might think. Conventional wisdom might suggest that a blocking back would be at risk for concussions, but Darrel Young has missed three games each in two of the past three seasons with the dreaded hamstring injury.
I SPY D.Y. WITH MY LITTLE EYE
With a new coach in town, Young needs to stay healthy and prove his worth to Jay Gruden. Right now though, he’s just trying to catch his breath in the heat of June. I caught up to him after practice, and like the good dude he is, he graciously agreed to answer a couple of my questions just before the rest of the media swooped in.
Listen here to Darrel Young’s comments after OTAs last Wednesday, June 11th.
“[Actually playing] football is what you have to do to get in shape”, said Young last week on a near-90 degree day at Redskins Park. “I think I’m in shape for June right now. I’m not in shape for September.”
Darrel Young will need to be in shape because Gruden has all but declared a return to normalcy in the Redskins rushing attack. Combined with Coach Jay’s power running scheme that he ran in Cincinnati, the zone scheme should ensure plenty of opportunities for Young to shine, at least in the ground attack.
How exactly will Young fit into this offense? If he knows, he isn’t sharing.
“I can’t tell you” declared Young when I tried to pry some game plan out of him. “Every game is different. I could play thirty snaps. I could play five. Depends on how we’re doing offensively, depends on the game plan, depends on what [opposing defenses] do. It’s a game-to-game thing.”
It all sounds good in June, doesn’t it? But in Gruden’s West Coast hybrid, the fullback might not be as featured as it was in the Shanahan offense, especially when you consider the additions of DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts. Where does DY fit into to the passing game when you have guys like that to compliment Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed?
Still, Darrel Young loves what he sees so far during the Gruden era.
“We’re all a team. It’s all positive. We’re not talking about 3-13 anymore. We’re just moving forward. [DeSean Jackson] was a great addition. Andre [Roberts] was a great addition. Hopefully we’ll do something great.”
What would really be great would be for the Redskins to run a little “Spider 2, Y Banana” to Young on both of the Redskins’ 2014 Monday Night Football appearances so Jon Gruden could call the play from the booth.
Tell me you don’t want to see that.