Adrian Peterson has made a career out of proving people wrong.
He came back far sooner than anticipated following an ACL tear on Christmas Eve 2011, the next season becoming the seventh player ever to rush for at least 2,000 yards. The future NFL Hall-of-Famer’s longevity and effectiveness was doubted ahead of last season following a dispiriting 2017 campaign, but instead he ran for 1,042 yards with the Washington Redskins despite his new team’s anemic offensive attack.
Forgive Peterson, then, for drinking the glass half full. He’s proven time and again that it’s foolish to leave him for dead. But Peterson is no longer capable of propping up a franchise all by himself, and even if he was, the 1-7 Redskins are bad enough that doing so would be impossible – no matter his delusional hopes otherwise.
“We have only won one game,” Peterson told The Athletic’s John Krawczynski after Thursday night’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings, “but when you look at the guys in this locker room, we have the potential to reel off eight in a row.”
Don’t tell that to the D.C. Water Bureau, though. Even local service companies have turned on the Redskins.
What separates the NFL from other professional sports is its tendency for parity. It’s common for teams to go from bottom-dwelling to true contention from one season to the next, and even for some to shake off a poor start and make a late-season run to the playoffs. But Washington, despite Peterson’s wide-eyed optimism, won’t be the next to pull it off.
No team has ever made the playoffs after winning just one of its first eight games. The 2015 Kansas City Chiefs would be the closest analogue to a Redskins team that made history over the second half of the season, but they started 1-5 before reeling off 10 straight victories and winning a playoff game. Washington is already two games behind that pace, and currently sits all alone at the very bottom of the NFC standings, as well as last place in the conference’s worst division
More discouraging? In December, the Redskins will go on the road to play both the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys, teams with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations, and are away from home next week against the 5-1 Buffalo Bills.
Odds are that Peterson’s dreams will be dashed next Sunday, but even if they aren’t, he’s bound to wake up to reality when Washington travels to Green Bay and Dallas.
The Redskins have been outscored by 96 points this season, worst in the NFL when excluding the tanking Miami Dolphins. They boast the league’s third-lowest scoring offense and have committed its third-most turnovers. While Washington’s defense has hardly been stellar, offense is clearly what’s holding this team back most.
Starting Dwayne Haskins, the Redskins’ first-round pick last April, might be the Redskins’ best chance for a stunning midseason turnaround. But as has been laid bare every time he takes the field, including against Minnesota, the 22-year-old just isn’t ready to play in the NFL.
After the game, Peterson, who played for the Vikings from 2007 to 2016, admitted that it was impossible for him to avoid getting swept up in nostalgia.
“There were a couple times throughout the game where I kind of caught myself signing the Skol song or whistling it,’’ he said, per Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “I catch myself because it’s a natural instinct. But obviously that didn’t have anything to do with the outcome of the game. But just, I was here for a decade, and so some things just kind of triggered.’’
The Redskins’ abject futility no doubt triggered it, too.
This article was edited by Josiah Wilmoth.