The Redskins enter camp with a deep group of running backs vying for likely four spots. While we probably have a pretty good idea of who will win those spots, what is more up in the air is how the touches will break down among this group for 2019. For the purposes of this I will focus on Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice, and Chris Thompson. There will be a category for “other”. Whether you believe that will be Byron Marshall, Bryce Love, Samaje Perine or some combination of the three, that is where their touches will go.
Last season the Redskins had a combined for 329 running back carries and 81 catches. For 2019 I would expect the carries to jump slightly, due to hopefully a more stable offense and fewer QB carries. The pass catching could be a bit more dependent on personnel, but I’d expect a bump here as well. My guess will 350 running back carries and 130 catches.
-I don’t believe the Redskins re-signed Peterson to just let him sit on the bench this season. Peterson is coming off a 1,042 yards and 7 rushing touchdown season, and the Redskins should start the season with him as the lead back. The fact that Peterson was that successful a year ago is even more impressive when you consider that the Redskins started 4 different QBs and had a revolving door of offensive linemen. While I do think Peterson’s presence limits the offense because he’s not a good pass catcher and doesn’t do as well running out of shotgun, he’s still a valuable player overall. Early on he can be a useful weapon to help take the pressure off Haskins as he starts his NFL career. Long term this is Guice’s backfield, but for 2019 I see Peterson having a pretty strong role in this offense.
-While I know many Redskins fans expect Guice to come in and have the impact that Zeke Elliott and Saquon Barkley have had in the division, those expectations should be tempered. Long term he has the talent and upside to be a top 10 running back in this league. This year though I think it’s likely the Redskins ease him into his role. There have been some reports of set backs in his recovery, but I still expect him to be ready by the start of the season. What the setbacks tell me, is that the Redskins would be wise to put him on a snap count, at least early on. At the start of the year I could see both Peterson and Thompson getting more snaps/touches. Overtime Guice should see his role increase and hopefully by the end of the year he’s at least on par if not exceeding Peterson in terms of snaps. Guice also should offer more as a pass catcher than Peterson, making him more versatile and a better option on passing downs.
-This is dependent of course of Thompson staying relatively healthy, because he’s not broken 50 catches yet in his career. Still I think the opportunity could be there for Thompson to see a fair amount of passing game usage. With the Redskins having an uncertain receiver corps and trying to break in a rookie QB, it would make a lot of sense to quick passes to running backs to get Haskins comfortable. Thompson is coming off his worst season, but hopefully he can stay healthy enough to make the impact he made from 2015-2017. I wouldn’t expect him to repeat his 2017 performance, but getting back to something closer to his 2016 is a fair projection. I do his his rushing touches getting cut some even if he is healthy. Guice and Peterson figure to get the majority of those and I don’t know if there will be a lot of reason for Thompson to get more usage in that department.
-Likely the “other” role will be filled by Byron Marshall and potentially Bryce Love when he comes back from an expected stint on the PUP list. Both of their skill sets are more suited for 3rd down work and they will likely back-up Chris Thompson or fill in if he’s injured. Love could see more work as a runner as well, but coming off the injury I’d expect the Redskins to be pretty cautious with him. He might be on a very strict touch count. While there are a lot of injury concerns between Guice and Thompson, by having three legitimate options ahead, it’s likely that they dominate all touches even if one player is down with an injury.