The 5 o’clock club is published several times per week during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.
Adrian Peterson has had three seasons already in 2019.
The first was Week 1, when he was inactive. Bad times for AD. Let’s call that Winter.
The second ‘season’ was Weeks 2 -5 under Jay Gruden. During those 4 weeks, Peterson carried the ball 40 times for 108 yards; that’s an average of 2.7 yards per carry, and it’s a pace that would see him put up 432 yards in a 16-game season. Let’s call that Spring.
The third ‘season’ for Adrian Peterson has been Weeks 6-9 under Bill Callahan. During this most recent 4-week stretch, Peterson has carried the ball 75 times for 383 yards; that’s an average of 5.1 yards per carry, and it’s a pace that would see him put up 1,532 yards in a 16-game season. Let’s call that Summer.
The difference between the Spring and Summer is stark and startling. After all, it’s not as if there was a brand new offense installed, or as though the team suddenly played a bunch of crappy defenses. In AP’s Spring season under Gruden, he faced the Cowboys, Bears and Patriots — three top-rated defenses. In his Summer season, he has faced the 49ers, Vikings and Bills. If anything, that may be a tougher set of defenders, as all three are ranked in the top-6 defenses as measured by yards per game given up, and top-4 in points per game surrendered.
Interestingly, 6 of the Redskins’ 8 losses have come to the top six defenses in the league, measured by points per game allowed:
- Patriots 10.8
- 49ers 12.8
- Bills 16.4
- Vikings 17.6
- Cowboys 17.7
- Bears 18.0
When you consider that the Redskins played:
Colt McCoy against the Pats
Case Keenum against the Niners
Dwayne Haskins against the Bills
Keenum for a half and Haskins for a half against the Vikings
and Keenum against the Cowboys and Bears
then the offensive difficulties in scoring in 2019 (the Redskins are tied for last place in the NFL with the Jets at 12ppg) may not be so surprising.
The passing game, outside of Weeks 1 & 3, when the Redskins threw for well over 300 yards per week, has been moribund, with the team passing for more than 166 yards in a game only once (Week 2 vs. Dallas).
The death of the passing game has been linked to the rise of Adrian Peterson. Unfortunately, the change in philosophy and play calling hasn’t led to an improvement in the team’s scoring production.
In the 5 weeks of the Gruden Winter and Spring, the Redskins averaged 14.6 points per game and were outscored 151-73 (-78 or -15.6 ppg).
In the 4 weeks of Bill Callahan’s Summer, the Redskins have averaged 7 points per game while being outscored 68-35 (-33 or -8.25 ppg).
Callahan’s group is running more clock and shortening games by limiting the number of drives and scoring opportunities. The defense seems to be fresher and more capable of limiting opponents scoring, though there are a lot of considerations that impact these raw numbers.
The fact is, teams don’t usually win games averaging 15.6 points per game, and no team wins consistently averaging 7 points per game.
The conservative offensive game planning is helping Adrian Peterson pad his Hall of Fame credentials (this week he passed Jerome Bettis and LaDanian Thomlinson on the all-time career rushing yards list, and now sits at #6, just 400 yards behind Curtis Martin), but it’s not really turning the Redskins into winners.
Of course, with Dwayne Haskins now looking more and more likely to be the starter for the remainder of the season, a heavy dose of AD weekly is one way to help ease the rookie from Ohio State into the NFL. And, winning games may not be the highest priority for the balance of the season anyway, as the rookie develops and the Redskins strengthen their position in the 2020 draft with every loss.
But Adrian Peterson is about to see things change again.
His “fourth” 2019 season is about to begin. Autumn is coming.
Derrius Guice has been practicing, and Bill Callahan has indicated that the second year running back could return to the roster as early as the Week 11 game against the Jets, which is the next one up on the schedule.
Given his injury history since he’s been in Washington, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the coaching staff ease Guice in a bit at a time, but — similar to Dwayne Haskins — the Redskins need to see what Guice can do. After all, on paper, he is supposed to be the team’s lead back in 2020.
Chris Thompson, who has been nursing a toe while remaining on the 53-man roster and avoiding IR, could also return to the lineup in the coming game or two.
All of this would likely put a squeeze on Adrian Peterson’s carries and production. Even if it didn’t happen all at once, he is unlikely to continue getting 18-20 touches per game. His game production is likely to Fall.
I would imagine that the final three games of the season are likely to feature Haskins, Guice, McLaurin, Richardson, Harmon and Quinn (or, possibly, Steven Sims) on offense as the coaching staff tries to figure out what this group will be capable of in 2020.
I’ve been enjoying watching Peterson tear up the field for the past month. I’ll enjoy it even more if we can score some touchdowns. But Peterson’s opportunity to add to his highlight reels may be rapidly coming to a close.
Peterson may find himself relegated to no more than a half-dozen touches per game by the time Weeks 15, 16 and 17 roll around. It’s been fun watching him tote the rock in a very Riggins-esque performance weekly, but I just don’t think his current usage will survive the return of Guice, as the team’s priorities shift more and more to setting up the future roster.
2019 seems destined to be remembered much like the 2014 season, when Jay Gruden played musical quarterbacks with Griffin, Cousins and McCoy as the team lost game after game.
But 2018 and 2019 are also likely to be remembered as the late career renaissance of Adrian Peterson — a two year stretch in which he proved that Father Time may be undefeated, but Adrian Peterson can push him into extra innings.
Which of these is closest to your idea of how Callahan and O’Connell should approach things over the final 7 games of the season?
This poll is closed
Stick to the current plan of running Peterson a lot. Let him get another 1,000 yard season in the books.
Stick to the run game, but incorporate Guice and build his workload. He is the future, and he should take over the lead back role from AD before the end of the year.
The coaches need to open up the game plan. Get Haskins more involved. Pass more often and farther downfield. Let’s find out if we’ve got our quarterback before we hit the off-season.