Adrian Peterson and the Redskins' run defense have regressed

Josh Luckenbaugh
November 26, 2018 - 7:57 am
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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

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It's not a full-blown crisis yet, but the Redskins have undoubtedly hit a rough patch in their season, losing three of their last four. 

A major reason why Washington has struggled over the last few weeks is because previous strengths have suddenly become concerns: Adrian Peterson's production has slowed down, and the run defense has regressed. 

Peterson is still the NFL's seventh-leading rusher, but he has failed to crack 70 rushing yards in each of the last four games, and his average of 4.1 yards per carry is tied for 32nd among NFL running backs

DeAngelo Hall weighed in on Peterson's statistical slowdown Monday on The Junkies, Hall pointing to several things, including the mileage on Peterson's legs, the banged-up state of Washington's offensive line and the lack of variety in the offensive schemes.

"Obviously, at 33 years old, AP's legs aren't the freshest things, and you can see him even running, he doesn't quite have that breakaway speed he used to have," Hall said. 

"We have to try to switch it up. AP can't just keep running downhill, because teams know that that's the way we are trying to win football games. And they're gonna make sure that they don't lose a football game by letting AP run for 100 yards."

As for the Redskins' previously stout run defense, after holding five of their first seven opponents to under 100 rushing yards, each of their last four have hit triple digits on the ground.

Ezekiel Elliott became the first running back to have a 100-yard game against Washington on Thursday, recording 121 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries in the 31-23 Dallas win.

As with the offense, Hall believes the defense needs more variety.

"I just see a unit who's not very exotic in what they do. They're pretty basic. They're just hoping that their guys are better than your guys," said Hall. "Defensively, they don't look as explosive coming off the ball, they just look kinda tired." 

(Greg) Manusky's defense I played in with him wasn't very fancy. It was pretty generic, he wants his guys to move fast and not be thinking a whole lot, and sometimes that makes it easier on offensive coordinators, because they pretty much know what you're gonna be in."

Craig Hoffman linked the defensive issues to the "Alabama Wall" of Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne not making as many impact plays.

"Earlier in the season, they just played Allen, (Matt) Ioannidis and Payne, and those guys were incredible down in and down out. And not that they've been overwhelmingly bad, but they have not been the impact type of players that they were earlier in the season," Hoffman said Monday on The Junkies. "You don't hear Jon Allen and Daron Payne's names as much as you did earlier in the season on the broadcast. They aren't making as many tackles."

"It's not necessarily your job as a defensive lineman to make every single tackle. A lot of the time the job is eat the double team and let the linebackers come up, but when those guys were making a ton of plays — not just in the middle, but all over the field, Allen especially going sideline to sideline — it mattered for this team. And it helped them put together the spectacular early season run that they did."

Hoffman also pointed to the "horrifically inconsistent" play of linebackers Mason Foster and Zach Brown. 

"The linebacker plays has been horrifically inconsistent, both Foster and Brown, but especially Zach Brown," he told The Junkies. "When he's right, he's as good as anybody. When he's wrong, he's as bad as anybody and doesn't belong on an NFL field."

"When you're that wildly inconsistent down to down, where one play and you shoot a gap and you're like, 'Man, this guy is something else' and then the next play you're like, 'Where are you going?' You just have no idea what he's doing." 

"That's gonna lead to inconsistency, and obviously against a back like Zeke, you have a bad snap on the wrong play, and he's gonna take it for 30 or 40 yards."

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