While the Redskins awaited news on the severity of the potential right knee injury running back Derrius Guice suffered in Washington’s Week 1 loss to the Eagles, local pundits joined right tackle Morgan Moses in second-guessing Coach Jay Gruden’s decision to deactivate a healthy Adrian Peterson before the game. Moses called Peterson’s absence “a slap in the face.” Former Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss called it “ludicrous.”
“When you have a guy with that capability, that can go out there and be a difference maker, regardless of how old he is, you find a way for him to be on your field, or at least dress,” Moss told Chad Dukes on Monday on 106.7 The Fan. “I don’t care if you start him, but have him in uniform, because you never know when you want to lean on a guy like that. Adrian Peterson shouldn’t have to even experience that, being that he’s a future Hall of Famer and he … carried that offense the whole entire season when we didn’t have anything.”
During Sunday’s pregame show on NBC Sports Washington, Moss expressed some concern that Guice, who played sparingly in the preseason after missing his entire rookie year with a torn ACL, was being rushed into the lead running back role. He added that there was “no excuse” for Gruden leaving Peterson out of the lineup.
“You [need to] have everybody, anybody that can help you win available for you,” Moss said.
Former Redskins return man Brian Mitchell criticized Gruden’s decision, too, though he wasn’t concerned about Peterson’s feelings. Hindsight is 20/20, but Mitchell, like Moss, said he wasn’t shocked that Guice injured his non-surgically repaired knee.
“[Gruden] made an ill-advised decision to not have Adrian Peterson in the game,” Mitchell told Scott Linn on The Team 980. “I believe Adrian should have started and you work Derrius in [when] he’s completely strong enough. The way it worked out [Sunday] was a bonehead move, a bonehead mistake, and there’s no way else to put it. You have a coach who’s doing things based off of feelings instead of experience and that’s BS anyway you look at it.”
Mitchell also took issue with Gruden’s snarky response to a reporter’s question after the loss about deactivating Peterson. (“If we have a game where we think we can run the ball 55 times in a game in an I-formation, then sure, I’ll get him up,” Gruden said, by way of explaining that he didn’t think there were enough carries to go around for Guice and Peterson. Gruden also said he wanted an additional special teams player active.)
“You have to remove emotions and feelings when you’re running a team,” said Mitchell, a frequent critic of the Redskins’ sixth-year coach. “If you’re unable to do that or incapable of doing that, you are not the person who should be in that position … The talent is better on this football team, but the coaching is the same.”
Clinton Portis suggested that Guice and Peterson would both benefit from splitting carries.
“Allow these guys to battle instead of turning the keys over,” Portis, the former Redskins running back, told Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on 106.7 The Fan. “Competition is healthy, especially at the running back position. If you’re competing, then you know you have to go out and make plays. But when you just dangle keys and hand ’em over and say, 'Hey, here’s the new car’ to a kid that hasn’t worked, they take it for granted. … Although Guice has worked hard, he hasn’t competed on the field. He hasn’t made plays on the field. You’re talking about sitting a guy who saved a lot of jobs within the organization last year.”
Guice didn’t have a strong statistical debut, rushing for 18 yards and catching three passes for 20 yards, but NFL analyst Brian Baldinger was impressed with the second-year pro’s pass blocking. Guice picked up a blitz by Rodney McLeod in the second quarter, giving quarterback Case Keenum time to find Terry McLaurin for a 69-yard touchdown pass.
Kevin Sheehan said the rookie McLaurin’s performance — five catches for 125 yards and a touchdown — “is a reason to be more optimistic about the offense than perhaps you were before the game.” While there was no sugarcoating the “brutal” second-half performance by Washington’s defense, Sheehan also warned against overreacting to Week 1 results.
“Last year, 10 of the 16 Week 1 winners didn’t make the playoffs,” he said on The Team 980. “Four eventual last-place division finishing teams last year won and looked impressive in the first week of the year.”
In other non-Peterson drama, NBC’s Peter King took a closer look at the turning point in Sunday’s game, the Eagles’ decision to go for it on fourth-and-short from their 34-yard line early in the third quarter and trailing 20-7. “In training camp, Pederson told me he coached too conservatively last year, unlike his bold 2017 season that ended in the Eagles’ first Super Bowl victory,” King wrote. “ … Going for it did have some risk, but the benefits outweighed the cost.” Carson Wentz picked up the first down on a QB sneak and the drive resulted in a touchdown. The Eagles never looked back.
As a guest on Ryen Russillo’s podcast on The Ringer, Chris Long, the former Rams, Patriots and Eagles defensive lineman, revealed that he gave Rams Coach Jeff Fisher the idea to troll the Redskins by sending six of the players St. Louis drafted with the picks they acquired from Washington in the Robert Griffin III trade to midfield for the coin toss before a game at FedEx Field in December 2014.
“That was you?!” Russillo asked.
“Yeah, it was like 30 minutes before the game,” Long said. “I said, ‘Hey Fish, I got an idea.’ I told him not expecting him to do it.' He was like, ‘I love the idea, but that means you guys gotta go out and play well.’"
The Rams won, 24-0. The Redskins managed 27 yards rushing in that game, one fewer than they had Sunday.
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