It’s been a while since Adrian Peterson has lined up against the Eagles, eight years in fact. During that time we’ve seen running backs come and go, coaches hired and fired and for the Eagles, the rise of a champion. A lot can change in that time, but Peterson’s impact on an offense has not.
The last time the Eagles saw Peterson, he rushed for 118 yards in a 24-14 win for Minnesota. This time, he may be called upon to do the same. What’s scary is that the 33-year old running back has every chance of repeating that performance if the Eagles come into this matchup anything less than fully motivated.
“It’s exciting to watch, a veteran player who has a lot of energy, a lot of juice for that football team.” Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson pointed out. “Not only that, but I think personally, the way he runs, he runs very violently, very aggressive. Gives them a run game that you have to defend and for a player that — as many touches that he’s had in his career, it’s good to see that he’s playing well and playing at a high level still”
The Eagles run defense has somewhat weltered in recent weeks. Had Saquon Barkley not mysteriously disappeared in the second half on Sunday, the rookie running back would’ve done far more damage than the 101 rushing yards, 41 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns he ruined the defense with in the first half. In the week prior to that, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara combined for 174 rushing yards, with Schwartz’s unit conceding another pair of touchdowns on the ground.
The return of Timmy Jernigan was somewhat impactful for the Eagles last week, but being on a very tight leash didn’t make things easy for the defensive line. Jernigan saw under 35% of snaps, with Pederson and Schwartz wanting to understandably ease him back into the equation. If a similar mentality applies this week, Peterson presents a very dangerous threat.
“He’s still strong as can be. He has great vision.” Said Jim Schwartz in his weekly press conference. “He’s one of those guys that even if you get a first hat on him, he still has enough to churn positive yards. He’s become a really important part of Washington’s offense. He’s just one of those guys just sort of zone block it. He can get one edge and power through guys.Some guys get older and they lose a little speed. I don’t know if he has. He hasn’t lost any of the power that he’s had in the past, and he certainly hasn’t lost his vision. Those are the things that carry him.”
Although Peterson was kept in check by Dallas, he’s had five games of 95+ yards this season and with Colt McCoy at quarterback facing such a tenacious pass rush, there’s every chance that the Redskins opt to lean on the run, be it on the ground or through screens, an area where Peterson has a further 177 receiving yards to his name on top of the 758 he’s tallied through the trenches.
The Eagles have struggled massively when it comes to tackling this season and last week was a prime example. Nate Gerry along with the backup corners all seemed to struggle to wrap up their man, giving up crucial extra yards and allowing drives to continue. Peterson is a savvy veteran who still runs like a freight train and isn’t afraid to punish any defender who can’t quite get his angle right. Finding away to smother that fire before the Redskins start draining the clock is absolutely pivotal.
The Eagles have their backs to the wall and a loss on Monday night will essentially end their season. If they fail to stop Adrian Peterson and marginalize the Washington offense, it could be all she wrote.
Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports