The Redskins enter the bye week after only three games with a winning record. Redskins.com's Jake Kring-Schreifels answers fan questions as the team takes the week off.
Question: Is your go to on offense going to be to feed AP even though he’s up there in age?
Age? What age? Kidding. But not really. (Bad Dodgeball reference).
Does Adrian Peterson look like your typical 33-year old running back? He doesn’t to me. In three games, he’s run for 236 yards on 56 attempts and has scored three touchdowns. During the Redskins’ victory over the Cardinals, he passed Jim Brown on the all-time rushing yards list and last week passed Marshall Faulk and Shaun Alexander on the all-time rushing touchdowns list. He’s got more milestones approaching, too, including one with a Redskins Super Bowl MVP.
All of which is to say that yes, Peterson will continue to be the starting running back and pivotal force behind the offense. It’s been three games, a small sample size, but the cause and effect of him having a productive rushing day is clear – when he runs well, when the ground game makes progress on first and second down, the passing game and play-action options open up tremendously.
“I think it speaks not only to Adrian but our ability as an offense – those guys up front when they needed to get big in that formative situation, eat up the clock and move the chains, we were able to do it,” Alex Smith said after Sunday’s game. “Credit to those guys up front and everybody in the blocking unit, but obviously Adrian as well, running hard. Great vision I think, finishing off a lot of those runs.”
Peterson did leave the game a little early as the fourth quarter wound down, and head coach Jay Gruden confirmed on Monday that he sprained his ankle. Gruden's not too concerned, and the Bye Week comes at a very helpful time for the offense as a whole. Gruden said that he does expect him to be ready to play Monday night in New Orleans.
The positive thing to note from Sunday’s game against the Packers is that Peterson was still productive despite being the only featured back. Chris Thompson played 25 snaps on offense, but didn’t find much production in the pass game, picking up small chunks on the ground. Because Thompson can be so dangerous, his presence alone is enough to force defenses to keep certain personnel packages on the field that Peterson is suited to attack.
It also helps that the Redskins can use Peterson in goal line situations, where he’s earned all three of his touchdowns. Until he proves otherwise, he’s the Redskins’ guy.
Question: After three weeks what position group needs the most work?
Before last week’s victory over the Packers, the answer to this would have been the wide receivers group, even though it would have been too early to make a statement about its production with only two games played and wildly different outcomes.
But to that point, the offense primarily has run through the running backs and the tight ends group. The deep ball, until the opening drive against Green Bay, had eluded quarterback Alex Smith, and against the Colts, the timing and chemistry with his weapons outside was lacking.
Suffice to say, the wide receivers group hasn’t been the focal point of this offense – it has acted more as a complement, each member capable of making big plays and posting big games, which have come sparingly so far.
Against the Packers, wide receiver Paul Richardson Jr. used his speed to beat the Green Bay secondary and open the scoring, while Jamison Crowder finally caught his first touchdown of the season – helping solidify his connection with Smith that looked strong in training camp. Wide receiver Josh Doctson was targeted a few times Sunday, drew two pass interference calls, but didn’t collect any catches. He has just five for 48 yards this season. It’s a concern only if the team’s run game starts to stall. That was the case against the Colts, who played Cover-2 for the majority of the game and prevented any big plays from developing.
The other position group that hasn’t achieved its usual statistics thus far is at outside linebacker. Starters Ryan Kerrigan and Preston haven’t recorded a sack through three games, which would be alarming if not for the fact that the interior defensive linemen have become a legitimate pass rush threat, evidenced in Sunday’s four sacks of Aaron Rodgers.
Since entering the league in 2011, Kerrigan hasn’t recorded lower than 7.5 sacks in a single season. His lowest amount of tackles came in 2016, when he collected 33, but still got to the quarterback 11 times. The optimistic stance to his early drought is this: Kerrigan leads the team with seven quarterback pressures, according to Sports Info Solutions, three off the league lead, and has consistently pushed the pocket towards the incoming defensive linemen.
In fact three, of the four players applyingthe most pressure on the quarterback belong to the outside linebacker group. Pernell McPhee has 5.5 and Preston Smith has five. They are providing value, it just hasn’t been finished on the stat line. We'll see if that improves soon.
Question: How is Josh Norman doing? I saw him limp a little on the last offensive play of the day for the Packers. Is he ok?
Head coach Jay Gruden didn’t mention much about either of these Morgan Moses or Josh Norman on Monday. Moses is in the concussion protocol and will continue to be monitored throughout next week as the team prepares for New Orleans.
Norman, meanwhile, had his hamstring wrapped in a compression bandage on Monday, and will benefit with a week of rest during the bye week. We'll get a better idea next week.
Gruden did mention some other injuries to keep an eye on, but the level of concern was low. Left tackle Trent Williams underwent a minor bursa sac cleanup in his knee to fix an issue that had been giving him some problems for the last couple of weeks. When I asked him about the procedure on Wednesday, he was already walking and said it went well.
“It's something he could play through but something he wants to get cleaned up because it's irritating him quite a bit,” Gruden said.
As noted above, Peterson also sprained his ankle against the Packers, but Griden once again seemed confident he’s have his star running back by the New Orleans game.
“The big thing is for the injured guys to make sure they get their treatment, and take care of their bodies, and come back with a fresh mind, focus ready to go, because it's going to be a 13-week grind for everybody,” Gruden said. “It's important for them to take a couple of days, relax, get away from it for a little while, but also take care of their bodies, come back refreshed and ready to go."