A makeshift offensive line, Adrian Peterson possibly wearing down, and questionable play-calling have all played a factor in the Washington Redskins’ running game struggling in recent weeks. As a result, the Redskins are now losers three of the last four weeks, as Peterson and the run game struggle to get on track.
The Redskins made little impact on the ground in Thursday’s 31-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Peterson finished the game with 35 rushing yards. It was the fourth straight week he failed to rush for at least 90 yards.
From the start of the game, Washington’s run game was out of sync. The Redskins started the game with four straight pass plays, resulting in one completion, two incomplete passes, and a quarterback sack. And when Peterson’s number was called his was gobbled up behind the line of scrimmage on his first two runs.
The decision to go pass heavy was seemingly odd by head coach and offensive play-caller Jay Gruden, considering the Redskins have struggled in the passing game, had a quarterback in Colt McCoy who was making his first regular season start in four years, and the offense has been predicated on running the football.
Dallas has been stout against the run much of the season, but they are just as good against the pass. Throw in the fact Peterson gashed the same defense for 99 yards rushing in their first meeting of the season in Week 7, Gruden’s decision was a head-scratcher.
Despite the slow start, Peterson and the run game had their fair share of making plays. They simply didn’t. Part of that could be Peterson wearing down after a long grueling season that has been highlighted with a heavy workload for the 33-year old.
He has been dealing with what should be considered bumps and bruises for the future Hall of Famer. Peterson has been bothered by a shoulder injury that has caused him to wear a harness for an extra level of protection. In Thursday’s game he left the game after taking a bump to his injured shoulder during a block in pass protection. He was back on the field the next offensive series, but the toll could be getting to him.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) November 22, 2018
He was not finishing off his runs as usual and did not make anyone miss on the couple of open field chances he had. Could he be slowing down?
The Redskins have been decimated but injuries at running back all season. The absence of Chris Thompson has essentially eliminated the breathers for Peterson. Kapri Bibbs has gotten snaps but primarily on passing downs.
Even if Peterson is fine, his blocking hasn’t been. Losing both starting guards Shawn Lauvao and Brandon Scherff was huge for what the Redskins love to do — run the football and control the pace of the game. Jonathan Cooper and Tony Bergstrom have been serviceable but it’s not hard to notion since both Lauvao (ACL) and Scherff (pectoral) were placed on injured reserve after getting hurt in a Week 9 loss to Atlanta, Peterson’s decline in numbers have coincided.
Gruden said losing Brandon Scherff has hurt the run game
— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) November 23, 2018
Much like against Dallas Thursday, the opportunities to break to the second level have not been there. For Washington it’s imperative Peterson and the run game get going in the way the offense is constructed. And it’s simply has not in the past four games.
Thursday the Redskins finished with a respectable 80 rushing yards as a team, but that was largely due to a couple garbage-time runs by Bibbs and a large chunk of scrambling yards by McCoy. Peterson finished the game with just 2.9 yards per carry as he has failed to get to four yards per carry during the four-game stretch.
Whether it’s play-calling, Peterson wearing down, or the loss of Scherff and Lauvao, the Redskins have to figure out how to kick star their rushing attack. Thursday’s loss drop the Redskins into a tie with the Cowboys at 6-5 a top of the NFC East (Cowboys own the tie-breaker based on a better division record). Washington will need to figure out the solution for the final five games if they have any plans of contending for the postseason