The Washington Football team’s running back Myles Gaskin is like a fine swiss quartz-movement watch. For three years, he has rushed for 1300 years. This year, he changes that pattern, for the better.
Washington Football running back Myles Gaskin is very predictable. Each year he accounts for 1300+ rushing yards. And for the past two seasons, he has caught 19 passes. For the 2017 season, he rushed 222 times for 1380 yards and 21 touchdowns. And he caught 19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns. All totaled, he contributed 1612 yards and 24 touchdowns. Penn State running back Saquon Barkley rushed 217 times for 1271 yards and 18 touchdowns. He hauled in 54 passes for 632 yards and 3 touchdowns. His total came in at 1903 yards and 21 touchdowns. Compared, Gaskin delivered a net of (291 yards) less and three touchdowns more than Barkley.
But Barkley is wowing NFL Scouts as perhaps the “greatest running back of all time”. Some have even given him a HOF (Hall of Fame) projection, before he takes one snap in the NFL.
So how do two running backs who compare evenly on box stats, end up in two completely different places in NFL Scout minds? Simple enough. Shock and Awe.
Shock and Awe
When USC and Penn State clashed in the 2017 Rose Bowl, the final score was 52-49. Despite the logical conclusion of “they have bad defenses”, the national media walked away shocked and in awe of both teams’ offenses. From that moment on, USC QB Sam Darnold was locked in by scouts as the NFL’s number one pick by scouts. And Penn State running back was locked in as a top-10 pick by NFL scouts as well.
Neither player lost their luster since that time.
But analyzing Barkley’s number shows a player with 1000 yards, 1400 yards, and finally 1200 yards rushing. No continuity. He did improve each year on receiving yards. And his production on offense matched the team’s reputation as a team that could score. Gaskin is a strong runner on a defensively aligned team. But with Bush Hamdan at the offensive helm, that could change. He knows the value of a running back who can catch a pass.
Dependable becomes versatile
Gaskin can catch a pass. But the 2017 Washington offense has a fairly rigid playbook. I think a lot of flexibility gets layered in this season. While the team kept a running back in to help control the pass rush, I believe the team works to give Browning more options, not more protection, this year. That means putting running backs into pass routes, putting more wide receivers on the field, and giving Browning some quick options to pass out of strong rushes.
Too many passing plays seemed to take forever last year. And that allowed pass rushers to pin back their ears and just take off at the quarterback. Putting Gaskin onto the flat or a wheel route gives Browning a pass option. And as the defense begins to take Gaskin into account, that opens up the door for some deeper routes. I think a run play option will be very effective in 2018. Defenses must react to Gaskin quickly. Faking a run and then coming back to him with a pass over the middle has all kinds of big play written over it.
Passing game + Gaskin = Shock and Awe
Myles Gaskin has been very dependable. 1300 yards rushing, 19 receptions. But I hope Bush Hamdan changes that dynamic. With the team looking at players to help fix the passing game starting tomorrow, Myles Gaskin is already a high-octane performer. Yes, there are plenty of stars to sort through at wide receiver this season, but sometimes the best fix includes multiple leverage points. No matter how you get the ball into his hands, Gaskin will win most battles in the secondary.
The Washington Football Team has other players coming on line. Tight end Hunter Bryant and wide receiver Chico McClatcher are expected to contribute to the passing game. But Myles Gaskin? Anything he adds to the aerial assault is a bonus. If that contribution is significant, that creates its own “shock and awe” which elevates his stock in the 2019 NFL Draft. New offensive coordinator understands that, and knows the value of a running back catching passes. Keep that in the back of your minds for now. That way, when Myles Gaskin rolls up 500 yards receiving, you won’t be shocked or in awe like the rest of the nation.