Washington Redskins must retain Roy Helu


The Washington Redskins possess a solid stable of running backs. Alfred Morris is the teams unquestioned starter. Morris is followed by Roy Helu and Silas Redd on the depth chart, respectively.

With three 1,000+ yard seasons under his belt, Alfred Morris is the workhorse of the group. His powerful running style has made him one of the most dominant backs in the NFL over the past 3 seasons. Although he is an excellent runner, Morris often struggles catching passes out of the backfield. Roy Helu, who is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason, usually takes care of the 3rd down duties.

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The Redskins drafted Roy Helu in the 4th round of the 2011 draft. Since entering the league, Helu has carried the ball 255 times for 1,132 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns. Those number certainly aren’t anything spectacular, but that’s because Helu does most of his damage as a 3rd down back.

In a league that is trending towards the running back by committee (RBBC) approach, having a player like Helu to come off of the bench is becoming increasingly necessary for teams. Much like most 3rd down backs, Helu is fast, agile, and has a good pair of hands.

Outside of 2013, a season ended by injury, Helu has never caught less than 30 passes in a season. He has caught a total of 129 passes for 1,152 yards and 3 touchdowns. Helu’s best season as a pass-catcher came in 2014, when he hauled in 42 passes for 472 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Helu has topped the 40 reception total twice in his career, once in 2013 (49) and once in 2014 (42). Alfred Morris hasn’t even caught that many passes in total — Morris has 37 receptions over the course of 3 seasons and 48 starts.

In the video below, Helu shows why he is so valuable to the Redskins passing game.

Robert Griffin III certainly had a lot to do with the success of this play, but Roy Helu’s awareness definitely helped. After noticing his quarterback is under heavy duress, Helu finds a soft spot in the defense a few yards ahead of Griffin. By being alert and smart, Helu is able to turn this possibly negative play into a positive.

Helu’s primary objective was as a pass-blocker, but after he fumbled that duty he turned things around. Instead of calling it quits, he darted up field and secured a last second pass from RG3. Instead of the play ending with a sack or minimal gain, the Redskins gained 25 yards and a first down because of Helu’s heads up effort.

Although Helu is used primarily as a pass-catcher, his ability as a runner cannot be ignored. His running style is very different than Alfred Morris’, which makes him the perfect change-of-pace runner for Washington.

The play above displayed the kind of speed and athleticism that I’ve been talking about. In a situation that most running backs would have been caught dead to rights, Helu hurdled the defender and scampered off for the touchdown. In my opinion, the amount of effort that Helu exerts from play-to-play is what makes him such a valuable asset to the Redskins.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely aspects of Helu’s game that he needs to improve. He needs to become a more consistent runner and a better pass-blocker. Seeing as how Helu is the Redskins 3rd down back, improving as a pass-blocker is something that he’ll have to constantly work on.

With that being said, I believe that Helu is one of the most important in-house free agent signings for the Redskins. His quick strike ability makes him a constant threat to score out of the backfield and his natural abilities are matched by his high motor and strong work ethic.

Whichever team signs Roy Helu this offseason will receive an excellent player. The Washington Redskins would be wise to bring him back.

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