With the Re-signing of Adrian Peterson, Do the Redskins Have a Top 5 NFL Backfield?
The Redskins brought Adrian Peterson in last year in late August after a season ending injury to their highly touted second round pick, Derrius Guice. Peterson rewarded the Redskins with a 1,000 plus yard season and 4.2 yards per carry in his age 33 season. Peterson carried the bulk of the load on the season, getting 61% of the Redskins’ carries. The next closest ball carrier was Chris Thompson with 10% of the Redskins 414 carries on the season. Thompson was more or a threat receiving out of the backfield with 41 receptions. The question now becomes, with a healthy Guice, what does 2019 hold in store for the Redskins backfield.
Conventional wisdom tells us that the Redskins will likely match last year’s 400 or so rushes and possibly surpass. Turning 34 in March, it is likely that the Redskins will cut down on Peterson’s rushes. With Thompson figuring to match or exceed his 43 carries, depending on health, by playing in all 16 games, Peterson and Guice should be left with about 350 – 375 carries to split. Guice was never much of a receiving threat out of the backfield at LSU, so Thompson is likely to continue to be the third down back and receiving threat at the running back position.
We know what Adrian Peterson can do, even at his age. Peterson will be good for 3.8-4.2 yards per carry, often staying around the three yards per carry range before breaking out a couple of long runs. During games in which the Redskins were ahead, Peterson become strong at the end of games, eating up clock and possessions. We know what Chris Thompson can do. Thompson makes plays out of the backfield often taking short screens for double-digit gains. The unknown in the equation is second year running back Derrius Guice.
Entering the 2018 draft, Guice was considered the second best running back behind Saquan Barkely. Guice fell all the way to pick 59 after reports surfaced questioning his maturity and emotional state. Through his first season, albeit, inactive, these claims have been unfounded. Guice is considered an angry runner who never stops moving forward. He is considered a good pass blocker and protects the football well. Once Guice hits the field, he is expected to make an immediate impact.
How this trio will play out in the regular season is, of course, speculation at this point. Given their projected production in the passing and running game, where do the Redskins rank within the leagues’ elite backfields? The Rams, Saints, and Chiefs were considered the top tier when it came to backfields in the NFL in 2018 with all three teams having lethal combinations of rushing prowess and pass catching ability. The loss of key players from the Chiefs and Saints may bring them back to the pack a bit in 2019. The next tier of teams is a combination of teams that had really good backfields in 2018 and those that have added pieces to make them potentially great in 2019. These teams include the Ravens, Browns, Bears, Patriots, and the Redskins. Yes, the Washington Redskins have the potential to be in the top tier of NFL backfields in the 2019 season if all three backs and the offensive line stays healthy. The Redskins’ trio is as talented as any of the other backfields in the NFL and they will lean very heavily on the running game in 2019.