Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens: Adrian Peterson in Washington (Additional Thoughts)

Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens offers additional thoughts on Adrian Peterson’s fit in Washington.

I wrote an article at (free to read) about Adrian Peterson’s fit in Washington. I recommend going there first if you want the quick overview as well as additional film detail from his 2017 stint in Arizona.

However, I have more to share about Peterson’s game as well as thoughts about his outlook. First, I’m not claiming that Peterson is going to be an All-Pro in Washington. There’s a wide range of outcomes for Peterson due to his age and how Washington may or may not platoon him with Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine.

Based on his film from last year, I’m not concerned about is athletic ability. He’s not washed-up, but injuries might be more likely for Peterson at this point of his career.

I’m also not concerned about his fit in the Washington offense. Jay Gruden’s offense runs a variety of gap and zone blocking. While there were games that gap plays were run more often than others, Washington ran a majority of zone blocking during the year.

This leads us to Mark Bullock’s Washington Post article that came out yesterday. Mark is a worthwhile follow and I encourage you to follow him @MarkBullockNFL. However, he described Peterson as primarily a runner of gap plays and not an effective zone runner.

While he found some good looks of Peterson making mistakes with his reads on some zone plays last year on Twitter, Bullock does not consider the fact that Peterson has been running inside and outside zone for years in Minnesota and it was essentially the scheme where he excelled early in his career with the Vikings.

There’s a little too much history of tape to rely on a few plays from last year to critique his skill as a zone runner. At the same time, I agree with Bullock that Peterson is too impatient from shotgun runs. However, Alex Smith is versatile enough that wanting to use him from shotgun won’t outweigh the desire to have a balanced offense that may force Smith to spend more time under center.

Below are some additional views of Peterson’s game from last year. Most are man/gap blocking schemes. Interesting enough, there was a fair bit of them on display on Friday night when Washington faced New York.

The greatest issue for Peterson last year wasn’t the blocking scheme but a tattered offensive line and lack of a starting-caliber quarterback in Arizona after Carson Palmer got hurt. Peterson thrived when the line and quarterback were healthy, but it was only for a brief period.

If Washingtons’ line and quarterback remain healthy, we’ll see a lot more of what I’ve shared below.

Peterson can help Washington’s offense. He is no longer the superhuman running back he was but if you only watched his tape and didn’t know anything else about him, you’d see a runner capable of contributing in a starting lineup with excellent strength, good quickness, and sharp change of direction who can punish and wear-down a defense.

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