Rarely if ever does a player who had a 90-yard touchdown run not have a 100-yard game. It happened on Monday night for Washington running back Adrian Peterson.
In the second quarter, and on the first snap with Mark Sanchez at quarterback, Peterson went 90 yards for a score. He had eight other carries on the night, for a total of eight yards.
After the touchdown, Peterson touched the ball only five times. Five times, with Sanchez at quarterback.
Think about that one for a second. Peterson shoots out of a cannon for a “he’s loose!” homerun that proves he can still bring it like he always has, and then he gets five total carries after that, even though the quarterback was a guy who hadn’t thrown a pass in a regular-season game since January 1, 2017.
Whatever the game plan was for the night, the plan should have changed dramatically when Johnny Butt Fumble entered. With one of the best running backs in NFL history available, and with that running back busting a career-long touchdown run on the first snap taken by Mr. J.B. Fumble, why not keep pounding and pounding and pounding Peterson?
It made no sense, and it reinforces this “woe is us” notion that Washington seems to be adopting in the face of so many injuries. The best organizations (a group that clearly doesn’t include Washington) never allows excuses to be made when injuries happen, by anyone. They expect a high level of performance from everyone on the roster, and from everyone on the coaching staff.
The coaching staff blew it last night, not pivoting to what the obvious strategy should have been.
“I don’t know how many times we really had chances to run the ball,” coach Jay Gruden told reporters after the game. “We had the ball backed up one time on our own one-foot line. We tried to run, almost got a safety, and second down I think we ran it, then third down we were going to keep [it], and I think they had great ball control for the most part. So, we didn’t get a lot of opportunities really. Hey, let’s run two tight ends, or three tight ends, and pound the ball right up the middle. And then our guards go down and we didn’t really have a plan for all that. We should’ve run the ball more, I guess.”
That doesn’t really inspire much confidence in the real-time decisions being made by the coaching staff. If anything, Gruden seems resigned to the disintegration of his team. He should instead be committed to doing everything he can to get the most out of what he has, with no excuses or long faces or sob stories about a season derailed by injury.