The Washington Redskins have long been known as a run oriented team, which is a stark contrast from the current trend of prolific passing attacks in the NFL. On offense, the Redskins want to use their running game to gain tough yards while managing the clock to win time of possession. It’s better to employ such a strategy when you’re leading late in games, an aspect that Washington hasn’t quite grasped yet. But that’s another story for another day.
Redskins’ veteran running back Adrian Peterson continues to defy Father Time at age 35. Peterson led Washington in rushing in 2019, with 898 yards and five touchdowns. While Peterson has proven to have a lot left in the tank, the Redskins need reliable depth behind Peterson to prevent him from wearing down. Third year running back Derrius Guice was drafted by the Redskins in 2018 to provide that depth and eventually become their main ball carrier.
Injuries have curtailed that plan, as a torn left ACL sidelined Guice during his rookie season in 2018. Last season, Guice suffered a left MCL sprain that limited him to appearing in only five games. Guice rushed for 245 yards on 42 carries ( a 5.8 yards per carry average) and two touchdowns in those five games, showing flashes of what he can become if healthy.
Guice is listed on Washington’s depth chart as the starter for 2020. This season may prove to be a make it or break it year for Guice. Peterson returns to Washington this season to share carries with Guice in an ideal scenario. But it’s the Redskins’ newly acquired depth that should be concerning to Guice. Washington signed free agent running backs J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber during the offseason. They also drafted running back/wide receiver Antonio Gibson in the 2020 NFL draft. Gibson’s skill set is especially intriguing, as new offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell will be tasked with creating innovative offensive packages to gain an advantage over their opponents.
While their physical abilities may not measure up with Guice’s, the greatest ability is availability. That mantra is especially true with the offense transitioning to a new coaching staff led by head coach Ron Rivera. As tough as it would be, if Guice can’t stay healthy, the newly acquired depth at running back could signal the end of the Derrius Guice era in Washington.