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Darrel Young: Sunday's Deserving, Unlikely Hero

Posted Nov 4, 2013

No position does more dirty work than the NFL fullback, and Washington Redskins Darrel Young is the consummate teammate. Sunday was his day to shine.

Looking at rosters around the NFL, it doesn’t take long to notice that the fullback position is being phased out in today’s pass-happy league.

Spread formations, four receiver sets and the tight ends lining up in the backfield have led to a decline in emphasis on the fullback.

However, no position does more dirty work than the NFL fullback, and Darrel Young is the consummate teammate.

His responsibilities in the Redskins offense ranges from picking up blitzes, run-blocking linebackers and defensive lineman as well as picking up the tough yards in the flat or up the gut.

While most of Young’s plays don’t end up on the stat sheet, he played the role of power running back, scoring three times in five carries, including the game-winning touchdown vs. the Chargers.

Young spoke about how his role was defined in the gameplan and his appreciation for the coaching staff in trusting him with the football.

“Honestly, that [goal-line] play’s been in for a couple of weeks, but when we get down on that goal line—I appreciate Alfred [Morris] so much, I love blocking for him, I’d do anything to get him in the end zone—but it was game-planned for a little bit.

“Coach [Mike Shanahan] said when we get down there it was going to be the first run call this week, so I appreciate him trusting me in a situation like that.”

Going into Sunday’s game, Young had one career touchdown run and when asked about when the last time he scored three touchdowns in a game Young said, “Back to high school. It’s been a long time [laughter]. A long time.”

For a player that hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown in more than two years, you might think his touchdown celebration would be a little more flashy. Not for Young, though.

“No. Bobby T [Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs Coach Bobby Turner] doesn’t like that. He’s old school, man,” Young said with a grin. “I’d rather just give the ball to a fan and just walk back to the sideline, man.

“I’m good. I want to keep my job.”

It’s important to remember that Young was drafted as a linebacker coming out of college. Head coach Mike Shanahan recognized his raw physical talent and switched him to fullback.

The fullback position is an important piece to the success for this offense, and has remained a staple in Washington. Shanahan trusts Young and it showed on Sunday as all three of his touchdowns came on critical 3rd-and-1, goal-line situations.

“Honestly, we were struggling on third-down coming into this game and going back to last year and when Shanahan took over in 2010,” Young explained. “Third downs have been a problem for us. When we started going to that run last year, third-down was actually on our side.

“For them to give me the ball on third down, that’s a lot of trust and I appreciate the coaches just allowing me to be in that situation and to be standing here today. That’s a credit to them and obviously the offensive line for blocking.

“And Alfred, I told him ‘thank you’ when he got stopped on the two. Said, ‘I appreciate you, man.’ It’s a credit to everyone out there.”

But Sunday’s win did not come without its own degree of frustration, as Young and the offense were helpless on the sideline as the defense defended 1st-and-goal from inside the 1-yard line late in the fourth quarter.

“[It was] frustrating, but [defensive coordinator Jim] Haslett’s a great coordinator and he puts guys in situations all the time. That’s kind of what we do in OTAs and camp – play situational football,” Young said. “I know every team does it, but it actually showed today for us. The defense stepped up and did a great job.

“[It was] frustrating from our standpoint just because we know we could have ended that game if we would have went down and scored before they got the ball back.”

Washington won the overtime toss and drove down the field with a 10-play, 63 yard drive capped off with a four yard touchdown plunge by Young to win the game.

Sunday’s win injected excitement back into the Redskins 2013 campaign and some have labeled it a turning point game. With the season at its halfway point and another game just days away, Young thinks the Redskins are back in the driver’s seat.

“When we’ve been losing these games the last couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about the little things, doing the little things right, everything we did right to go on that run [in 2012],” he explained. “We fell short last year, but there’s some things you can transfer over to this season in terms of handling adversity.

“Just to say we can come back and win this game like this…it’s a credit to everyone, coaches, players. It's coaches emphasizing and players executing. That’s what’s been the difference in the past couple of weeks.

“Today, we just executed and finished.”