Gruden wants more opportunities for Samaje Perine

Ben Krimmel
April 04, 2019 - 12:05 pm
Jay Gruden says running back Samaje Perine isn't in his doghouse.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Doghouse? No doghouse. 

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said he wants to give more chances to running back Samaje Perine and denied he has had the third year back parked in timeout.

"The guy I want to see, who everyone thinks is in my doghouse, is Samaje,” Gruden told Redskins.com. “Samaje has not gotten the opportunities, I’m upset about that, that’s my fault. But, I have not given up on Samaje."

While Gruden may not have forgotten about Perine, he is decidedly fourth in the Washington pecking order behind 2018 second-round draft pick Derrius Guice, veteran Adrian Peterson, and Chris Thompson.

"He’s young, he’s strong, he’s physical, and I need to see him take that next step and I have to give him that opportunity to do that, and it’s going to be hard with Guice and AP in there to get him the ball. That’ll be a tough dynamic but I have to get that done," Gruden said of Perine.

There are a few ways to read these comments. If you take him at face value, Gruden actually wants to involve Perine more in the offense, which would be something considering the above pecking order. Would that mean fewer carries for Guice, the presumptive starter? Or Peterson, who ran for 1,000 yards last season? Or Thompson, a weapon out of the backfield in the passing game?

Grant Paulsen said getting more touches for Perine comes at a big cost.

"Any touch he gets, (is one) that doesn't go to Guice, who you just drafted in the second round and is gonna be your first-time starter, Peterson, who you just re-signed for multiple years, Chris Thompson, who's actually dynamic, something that Perine is not," Paulsen said on 106.7 The Fan. "Any touch he gets that those other three, if they're healthy, don't get is a mistake."

"But even if you're gonna say, let's say they run it 22 times. Guice and Peterson and Thompson should get those 22 carries. And that's coming from someone who likes Perine," he said. 

Another way to look at these comments is Gruden is simply being diplomatic. Every coach wants to keep every player either because they see some value or because they're terrified of being shorthanded in the event of an injury crisis. And, of course, both of these things can be true. Or most likely, Gruden is throwing down a challenge to Perine: It is either now or never.

The Redskins' fourth-round draft pick in 2017 put up 603 yards on 175 carries in his rookie season, before injuries kept him to just 32 yards on eight carries a season ago. And, to his credit, Perine is game to compete for more opportunities.

“Competition is competition you know?” Perine told the Redskins' team site. “If you don’t like competition, if you don’t grind with the competition, then I hate to tell you, but it’s probably the wrong business for you. At the end of the day you know the coaches are going to do what they want to do, but you know I’m going to put my best foot forward, just like they’re going to put their best foot forward, and you know whatever happens after that happens, but I’m sure we are all going to compete, we’re all going to have fun and you know we’re all going to go and feed off each other.”

The competition for touches will be fierce, but Danny Rouhier said Thursday the fight over playing time between Thompson and Perine should be decided in favor of the more dynamic runner.

"You could make a list of a thousand things to figure out with the Washington Redskins," Rouhier said, "I think the first thing is: Figure out how to get the ball to Chris Thompson more."

For Paulsen it is simple: "You've got three guys on your depth chart clearly better than him. He's your fourth running back. Do not waste any time worrying about how to get the football to your fourth running back. Spend that time doing other, more helpful things."

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