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RBs Coach Randy Jordan Has A Plan For Managing Washington's Talented Running Back Group


Running backs coach Randy Jordan has been in his share of crowded running back rooms during his 27 years as a player and coach. He's been in systems with as many as four running backs as well as short-yardage and goal-line specialists.

He's never seen a position group this deep and talented, though. It features veterans like Adrian Peterson and young, explosive players like Derrius Guice. Naturally, all of them want to be on the field scoring touchdowns.

Jordan admits that managing everyone will be a challenge, but his plan is to establish the team-first mentality that has run through the entire franchise.

"The biggest thing is making sure they understand it's about winning," Jordan told reporters July 31.

The group is led by Peterson, who is currently fifth on the all-time rushing list yet still finds a way to be productive. Since signing with Washington in 2018, he's started 31 games and totaled 1,940 yards on 462 carries, good for an average of 4.2 yards per attempt.

Peterson has carried the brunt of the rushing responsibilities while Guice has recovered from knee injuries. However, Guice showed flashes in limited action last year. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry and exploded for 123 yards and two touchdowns against the Carolina Panthers in December.

Peterson and Guice have both stood out individually, but Jordan has preached to the group that he does not want players obsessed with statistics. He believes that all six of his running backs support that belief.

"If we are winning and we're being a successful offense, you will have enough touches to go around. I'm always preaching that in terms of the team, and so far, I've had really good feedback from the guys since I've been here coaching."

It helps that Peterson and Guice have already built chemistry during their time together. The "two-headed monster" Guice envisioned came to life against the Panthers when they combined for 228 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Both of them were quick to point out that their success stemmed from one another.

"I want him to be successful," Peterson said after the game. "That's what he needs coming off the last two years. I'm always rooting for him, and I want him to know, 'Hey, I'm in your corner,' and we can do this together.'"

Aside from Peterson and Guice, none of Washington's other running backs -- Bryce Love, J.D. McKissic, Peyton Barber and Antonio Gibson -- have played a snap for the team. The best way for them to contribute to the team mentality that Jordan is establishing is to embrace being more active in the passing game, which is an ability Jordan thinks all of them possess.

"I think the No. 1 thing is when you think about the flexibility of the players that we have -- what it allows you to do is be able to be multi but basic at the same time and put stress on the offense," Jordan said. "How do you treat Antonio? Do you treat him like a receiver? Do you treat him like a running back? Do you feel comfortable with a linebacker covering a guy that has wide receiver skills?"

Gibson, who had 1,203 yards from scrimmage in two seasons at Memphis, is currently working with the running backs and receivers, but Jordan can already tell he is a special athlete. He mentioned Gibson's big-play ability and noted that he has a similar skillset to Christian McCaffrey, who head coach Ron Rivera has also brought up in relation to Gibson.

"He doesn't just see it from the standpoint of a running back," Jordan said. "He sees it from all aspects because he has played all of these positions. He can give you mismatches in the passing game. I am really excited about his development and to have the opportunity to work with him."

Jordan sees similar abilities in Barber and Love. Barber, who spent four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has a "thump" to his running style that is similar to Peterson's and has shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield with 349 receiving yards. Love has spent the past year recovering from a torn ACL, but he had 3,865 rushing yards at Stanford, and Jordan said he can line up anywhere on the field like McCaffrey.

But in terms of players with room to grow, perhaps no one gets Jordan as excited as McKissic. He called McKissic a "fire starter" -- someone who can make plays anywhere on the field -- and said he fits what offensive coordinator Scott Turner wants from the running backs.

"He catches the ball extremely well, he is smart and can line up in different formations, can create mismatches and he can be a danger in the return game," Jordan said of McKissic. "He has a lot of room before he hits that ceiling."

The Washington Football team conducts training camp at the Inova Sports Performance Center in Ashburn, Virginia, on Aug. 4, 2020.

Washington has a wealth of talent at the running back position, but there will still be a competition for who will claim the starting role. Regardless of how the roster spots turn out, the team is set to have a dangerous backfield.

"We're going to make sure that everybody knows exactly what to do, how to do it, the way we want to do it and get it done," Jordan said. "We just have to find the individuals who can do it the best."