The Washington Football Team made the surprise move to release veteran RB Adrian Peterson on Friday morning, just a day before final cuts to the 53-man roster were due to be made.
Peterson, who will go down in NFL history as one of the best backs to play the game, was expected to be the starting RB for Washington once the 2020 season got going a week from now, but that obviously isn’t the case anymore. Goin forward, it seems that the rookie Antonio Gibson is going to be the guy for Washington.
So why did Washington decide to do this? There are a number of reasons that we could think of, so let’s try to break them down.
Peterson’s Fit Wasn’t Perfect
In the new offense in Washington, run by OC Scott Turner, it had become clear that AP wasn’t a perfect fit anymore throughout training camp, with the new goal to be up-tempo and quick off the edges, rather than a bruising, down-hill back like AP. At 35-years-old, Peterson is definitely not the spring chicken who could once dance and cut behind the line, and it was clear that Washington thought that they would be better off cutting ties early.
The Young Guys Take the Reigns
One of the main factors in cutting AP had to also be the emergence of rookie RB Antonio Gibson over the past couple of weeks. After being drafted by Washington in the third round this past year, Gibson has had a great training camp thus far, and his fit in Turner’s offense is close to perfect. Washington also has RB Bryce Love and J.D. McKissic to help balance the load, and RB Peyton Barber is an Adrian Peterson-lite version in running style.
The Roster Spot is Key
With final cuts due a day from now, Washington is going to have to make some tough decisions when it comes to offensive line, wide receiver, linebacker, and safety. Ron Rivera has said how tough those decisions will be, and it’s clear that the roster spot held by Adrian Peterson will seemingly better suit the team used elsewhere.
The best ability is availability, but considering what Derrius Guice could do during his brief action in 2019, his future is bright.
One of the biggest knocks on Washington Redskins running back Derrius Guice has been his ability to stay healthy. During his two full seasons in the NFL, he’s played in just five games, missing his entire rookie year with a torn ACL, and being sent to the IR twice in 2019 for multiple knee injuries.
When he’s been on the field, however, Guice is nothing but electric. In his five games with the Redskins, he has a total of three touchdowns and 324 total yards on just 49 touches. Though it is a small sample size, those are impressive numbers.
Pro Football Focus would agree. In a recent Stat Spotlight that they did, tracking the elusiveness rating for every RB in the NFL, Guice doesn’t make the list simply because of his minimal number of reps. However, if you were to change the qualifier from 100 carries to 20 carries, Guice jumps up to the No. 1 overall spot.
Don’t know what we’re talking about when we say discuss the elusiveness rating? It simply measures a back’s forced missed tackles and yards after contact.
When you look at the 2019 season as a whole, Dallas Cowboys rookie Tony Pollard (116.1), and Oakland Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs (103.6) were near the top of the list, and Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Henry was not far behind. But from weeks 11-13, when Guice was healthy and getting a decent workload, his rating, 175.3, was higher than anyone this season.
Signature Stat Spotlight: Running Backs#Redskins RB Derrius Guice ranked #1 (min. 20 rushes) with a 175.3 Elusive Rating in Weeks 11-13
The low number of attempts skews the statistics a little bit, and if you want to believe that with more of a sample size Guice would have fallen off quite a bit, go ahead. But if you watched Guice when he was on the field, and you saw what he could do with the football when given a chance, you know that the Redskins have something special, should he be able to stay healthy. This PFF stat proves exactly that.
Even when given ample amounts of time to operate, Dwayne Haskins struggled to put things together in his rookie season.
Usually, when you’re the only player in the NFL who has “achieved” a certain stat, it can either be a really good thing or a really bad thing.
In this case for Washington Redskins quarterback, it’ doesn’t spell sunshine and roses. According to Pro Football Focus, during his rookie season in 2019, Haskins was the worst passer in the NFL when it came to operating in a clean pocket,’ where he completed just 63.2% of his passes.
No quarterback with at least 200 clean dropbacks in 2019 recorded a lower clean-pocket passer rating than Washington Redskins rookie signal-caller Dwayne Haskins at 81.8. He completed just 63.2% of his attempts for 1,089 yards, five touchdowns and five picks when kept clean a year ago. Haskins, Andy Dalton, Mayfield and Kyle Allen were the only four quarterbacks with sub-90.0 clean-pocket passer ratings in 2019.
When he had time to set his feet, survey the field, and get the ball out of his hands, Haskins threw for five touchdowns, five interceptions, and 1,089 yards, earning a passer rating of just 81.2. In comparison, players like Ryan Tannehill and Drew Brees — two names at the top of the list — turned in a passer rating of 122.6, and 118.1, respectively.
It’s tough to put a positive spin on that stat. Haskins faced a ton of pressure in his rookie season, but even when his offensive line held up and created some time for him to operate, he still struggled to make plays. During his final two games of the season, Haskins was able to show quite a bit of improvement by throwing for four touchdowns and zero interceptions, so let’s just hope that his clean-pocket passer rating improves this year as well.
McLaurin finished his rookie year as the clear-cut WR1 for the Redskins, and his play is only expected to get better.
It’s normal for local fans of an NFL team to craze over the performance of a rookie player, and endlessly lift his name up as the next great player to take the league by storm. In this case, the Washington Redskins are all in on WR Terry McLaurin, who burst onto the scene in the first few weeks of his career, and ended his year near the top of rookie rankings despite missing a couple of games due to injury.
What’s special is when the league as a whole recognizes the impact that the rookie had, and the NFL itself starts to prop him up for everyone else to see.
McLaurin was undoubtedly the bright spot for the Redskins in 2019, and continued growth of the offense will likely center on his relationship with quarterback Dwayne Haskins, a pair of college teammates.
The future is bright in Washington, and more videos like this are sure to be prevalent in the future.
Washington was forced to rely on their rookies in 2019, and it led ESPN to rank them the most productive group of young players in the NFL.
They may have ended the 2019 season as the second-worst team in the NFL, but the Washington Redskins had a rookie class unlike any other this past season. With a number of prominent young players actually making a difference on the field, it’s no wonder that the Redskins were named as ESPN’s No. 1 most productive rookie class in the NFL in 2019.
Just think of all the first-year players who saw the field and got a load of experience under their best this past year. You’ve got quarterback Dwayne Haskins, wide receivers Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims Jr., and Kelvin Harmon, plus Wes Martin getting a look at right guard. Then on defense, there’s Montez Sweat rushing the edge, Cole Holcomb becoming an impact player at linebacker, and cornerback Jimmy Moreland turning some heads out on the numbers.
With that much production from a rookie class, there’s obviously some high expectations for the grown going forward.
According to ESPN, the most valuable pick for the Redskins in the 2019 NFL Draft was obviously McLaurin, who was selected in the third round with the 76th overall pick. McLaurin finished the year with the highest receiving grade (86.5) by a rookie receiver since Odell Beckham Jr. in 2015.
With a new coaching staff and some recent success in the draft, look for the stock for Washington to continue to rise as they try and hit on more young players, starting with a likely pick of Chase Young with the No. 2 pick in 2020.
McLaurin had an incredible rookie season that put him on the map, and many are now saying that he has the chance to be an all-time great.
The Washington Redskins have experienced a mass coaching exodus over the last couple of weeks under new head man Ron Rivera, but one guy that was kept around is Ike Hilliard, the well-established wide receiver’s coach.
For the franchise, his continued role with the team presents a chance to maintain stability with the receivers, allowing their crop of young talent to grow and learn under the same coach for multiple seasons. For Hilliard, it presents a chance to continue his work with rookie WR Terry McLaurin — a player who at times renders him speechless.
“Man, I don’t know where to start,” Hilliard said, via The Athletic. “There are so many good things I could say.”
Hilliard had a front-row seat for McLaurin’s rookie year in Washington, where he finished the season with 919 yards and seven touchdowns. He was also right there when McLaurin started his NFL career on a torrid pace, becoming the first player in history to have over 65 yards and a touchdown in each of his first three games.
“He just came in making plays every day and put himself in position to be a starter,” Hilliard said. “He’s going to put himself in position to be one of the better players to play in this organization in a long time.”
Anyone in Washington this past year was able to witness the immense talent that No. 17 has, but his level of great went beyond the Redskins circles. McLaurin now has opposing coaches waxing poetic about his ability to come down with the ball, and how dangerous he can be once he gets into the open field. In The Athletic piece, Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Peterson spared no praise for the rookie he will face twice a year for seasons to come.
“What a dynamic player,” Peterson said. “He’s explosive. He’s smart. He’s a tough kid. I don’t really know him personally, but everything I see on tape is kind of what I would expect if I have a chance to meet him and see him in person that way. … He’s going to have a long future in this league.”
A long future, hopefully with a dynamic quarterback getting him the ball. If the Redskins are able to further develop Dwayne Haskins over the next couple of seasons, there is no telling what the Redskins’ offense could become.
“If Terry stays healthy and he gets a certain amount of opportunities per game,” Hillard said, “I don’t think there’s a ceiling on what he can do.”
Peterson has exceeded expectations in both of the past two seasons, and he doesn’t show any time of slowing down in the near future.
Many people probably thought that future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson’s career was coming to an end in 2017 when he was traded from the New Orleans Saints to the Arizona Cardinals, failing to make much of a difference at either destination.
At that point, he had all of the accolades he needed to go down in history as one of the best RBs to ever play the game, and he had his health still. But nonetheless, AP is still out there working, this time with the Washington Redskins, and he doesn’t seem to be thinking of slowing down anytime soon.
“I’m going to keep going,” Peterson said, via Redskins.com. “My body is feeling good. I’m still loving the game. Obviously, I can still play and perform at a high level. Why walk away from it now? So, I’m going to keep going.”
Peterson just completed his 13th season in the NFL, where he rushed for 898 yards and five touchdowns with the Redskins. Just a year prior, he looked like the AP of old, rushing for 1,042 yards and seven touchdowns, all while being one of the oldest running backs in the NFL. For Peterson, that age — he is now 34 — doesn’t matter much as long as he can still get the job done.
“I feel like [that] was just a decent season, like for me in my mind,” Peterson said. “People were like, ‘Wow, you did incredible, you had 1,000 yards.’ And I’m like, ‘Man, I should have had 15, 1,600 yards.'”
Cousins won his first career playoff game in overtime on Sunday, and he did it in a way that could be highly frustrating for Washington fans
Kirk Cousins’ performance on Sunday was a bit of a middle finger to the Washington Redskins. His stats didn’t fly off the page — 242 yards and one touchdown — but down the stretch, he made the plays necessary, including a completed fade route into the endzone with time expiring to win his first career playoff game.
It was something he was never able to accomplish during his time with the Redskins. As a massive playoff underdog, Cousins led his team into the Superdome in New Orleans and beat an incredibly talented Saints team that was quarterbacked by Drew Brees, in overtime.
Cousins was long-followed by the narrative that he couldn’t get the job done when it matters, which stemmed from his 0-9 record on Monday Night Football, a stat that started during his time in Washington.
The criticism of Cousins is fair, and it’s not without proof. However, on Sunday afternoon, Kirk did something he’s never been able to do; he bucked the long-standing trend and got the job done.
If you’re a Redskins fan, how does this make you feel?
The Redskins had a tough season the field, but there are a number of players who deserve some credit for their work in 2019.
We are now a week removed from the end of the Washington Redskins 2019 regular season — a year in which they finished with a 3-13 record and missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
Though there were very few accolades handed out to anyone other than punter Tress Way — who was named to both the AP All-Pro Second Team, as well as the NFL Pro Bowl — that doesn’t mean that the team should go completely void of accolades. Here are our Redskins Wire end of season awards.
Most Valuable Player
Terry McLaurin | Wide Receiver (Rookie)
You could argue that Way deserves the MVP award, as he is the only player to receive any accolades from the league this season, but come on. We all know that McLaurin was the most explosive player in Washington this season, and he was arguably the only player who gave the Redskins any credibility as well.
After starting out the year on an absolute tear — McLaurin is the first player in NFL history to have over 60 yards and a touchdown in each of his first three career games — the rookie finished the year with 919 yards and seven touchdowns on 58 receptions. He had a touchdown in six different games and surpassed 60 yards receiving eight total times. He was also named to the Pro Football Focus Top 50 All-Rookie list.
All of these stats are just different ways to say the same thing: Terry McLaurin is good at football. Without his production this past season, the Redskins abysmal 3-13 record that saw both a coach and team president fired could have been a lot worse. If there is one player in Washington that you have high hopes for going forward, McLaurin is that guy. A lot of players on the team have a chance to be good in the future; McLaurin has a chance to be great.
Offensive Player of the Year
Adrian Peterson | Running Back
If we hadn’t given McLaurin the MVP award, he would undoubtedly be the OPOY, but we want to spread the wealth a little bit. Unfortunately for the Redskins, there was very little production outside of the rookie receiver, which leads us to dub Adrian Peterson as the POY on offense, which can serve as a thank you for yet another season of him putting the offense on his back and chugging forward.
At the age of 34, Peterson followed up on his 1,000-yard season from 2018 and put up 898 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games played. With an average of almost 60 yards per game, it wasn’t the stats so much as the reliability that gives AP this award in our eyes. While second-year back Derrius Guice was set to take over as the RB1 this season, his early-season injury left Peterson to shoulder the load and carry Washington forward. Later in the year, when Guice returned, AP took a step back and let the young gun work. However, when Guice was injured again, AP was still there, ready to shoulder the load when called upon and reassume his workhorse status. Like McLaurin, this year could have been even worse than it already was, had Peterson not been around.
Defensive Player of the Year
Matt Ioannidis | Defensive End
In our opinion, Matt Ioannidis could have won two awards this year: DPOY, and Breakout Player of the Year. Of course, as a fourth-year player, we all obviously had a sample size of work to base Ioannidis’ play off of this year, but he really showed how dynamic and disruptive he can be on the defensive line.
Ioannidis was voted to the Pro Bowl as an alternate, which is well deserved based on his 64 total tackles, 8.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hits and 11 tackles for loss. In 2018, Ioannidis rang up 7.5 sacks, but he more than doubled his number of tackles year over year and showed his ability to stay productive without Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne next to him, both of whom missed some time due to injury this year.
With new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio looking to implement a 4-3 defensive scheme in the coming year, Ioannidis will likely shift to a defensive tackle position where he can become a disrupter in the middle. If we are to base his future production on this past season, Ioannidis should be able to carve out a pretty nice career in Washington.
Special Teams Player of the Year
Steven Sims Jr. | Kick Returner (Rookie)
Again, this award could have easily been given to Punter Tress Way, as he was the only player on the team who was actually given a real award, and for his work on special teams at that. But to be honest, we are a bit tired of talking about Way, and would rather give some more shine to the undrafted rookie out of Kansas.
Sims was the last member to make the 53-man roster cut this preseason, and he absolutely did the most with his opportunity. After being thrust into the kick returner spot early in the year, Sims was able to show off his agility and killer speed by returning 32 total kicks for 819 yards and a touchdown — an average of 25.6 yards per attempt.
Aside from his work on special teams, Sims was also able to receive a solid target share down the stretch as offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell found a way to implement his quickness into the offense, creating new wrinkles that kept opposing defenses unsure of where the play was going. Sims finished the year with 310 yards and four touchdowns on offense, and he proved to be a reliable option for Haskins down the stretch. Many people will think of McLaurin and Derrius Guice when they think about the future stars of this offense, but Sims is definitely worthy of being in that conversation.
Most Improved Player Award
Dwayne Haskins | Quarterback (Rookie)
I mean, obviously, right? The first time we saw Dwayne Haskins play in the regular season, he threw for barely 100 yards and three interceptions against the Giants. In his last game, he threw for 133 yards and two touchdowns in the first half before leaving with an injury.
If you were to compare the game tape from the two games, it would show the night-and-day changes that Haskins underwent this season. He finished the season with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions to go along with over 1,300 yards in nine total games. What once looked like it was an over-ambitious first-round pick ended up looking like something that could actually work down the road in Washington. This isn’t to say that Haskins will without a doubt be a franchise quarterback for the Redskins, but it at least seems to be a possibility.
Rookie of the Year
Cole Holcomb | Linebacker
It’s pretty hard to pick a single Rookie of the Year for the Redskins this year, as most of their productive players were rookies. This award could easily go to McLaurin, but with him receiving the MVP award for the team, it felt better to give this to our second-best rookie on the team: Cole Holcomb.
Drafted in the fifth round of the 2019 draft, Holcomb proved to be a steal for Washington this season, as he stepped into a starting linebacker spot with ease finishing the year with 101 tackles, the third-most on the team.
The Redskins were put into a tough position coming into this season after the loss of Reuben Foster in the offseason, but Holcomb assured the team that he could be a reliable option for them in the middle going forward.
Williams held out for the entire 2019 season in part because of Bruce Allen and Larry Hess, both of whom out of the building now.
The Washington Redskins coaching staff is currently being put into place, and the front office will likely be next. Once those two things are set in stone, where does that leave the roster?
As the Redskins prepare for the 2020 NFL Draft and the free agency period that preludes it, there are a number of potential free agents or players nearing the end of their contracts that the team will need to make some tough decisions on. Potentially the biggest name on that list is left tackle Trent Williams, a seven-time Pro-Bowler who sat out the entire 2019 season because of a whole host of reasons, most of which boil down to distrust with the franchise, mainly team president Bruce Allen and the medical staff.
Earlier in the year, Williams emphatically stated that he would never play for the Redskins again, and his “feud” with the leadership was the reason why. However, after the recent string of firings in Washington, Allen is no longer around, and head trainer Larry Hess has been nixed as well. Does this change things for Williams?
A source told The Athletic that the firings had prompted Williams to think about a possible future in Washington. The source said there is reason to feel like there might be a chance he comes around.
As a Redskins fan, you might be hardpressed to find reasons to disagree with this move, should Washington bring him back in. Many fans may have already mentally cut ties with Williams, but I would guess that more would welcome him with open arms.
Until we hear something concrete from Williams’ party, this is all just conjecture, but just know that a marriage between the two teams is still possible now that the metaphorical witch is dead.