Against the Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions running back Theo Riddick recorded six receptions for 33 yards and two scores, making it a highly productive day for the receptive back.
Those two scores, a 1-yard pass and a 17-yard pass, could have exploited a weakness in the Eagles defense, which has otherwise been stellar against the pass. Philadelphia has only allowed an 80.1 quarterback rating, good for the ninth-lowest rating in the NFL this year.
But the Redskins have their own version of Riddick in Chris Thompson, an equally catch-happy running back. So far this season, Thompson has 12 receptions for 115 yards. It’s not quite at the production level of Riddick, who leads all running backs with 26, but Thompson has taken advantage of his opportunities. His 9.6 yards per reception is a bit higher than Riddick’s 7.3 yards per reception.
Expect Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay to draw a few more plays for Thompson this week against the Eagles.
“He’s a guy that, you know, each and every week we kind of look for more ways to get him involved creatively,” McVay said of Thompson. “Definitely that’s something that we look at, and we’ll see how that’s something that will come up on Sunday.”
Thompson said that he, of course, hopes to get a few more looks this week. Last week against the Baltimore Ravens, Thompson caught four passes for 33 yards, the most receptions he has recorded in a game all season. The 25-year-old also said that he spent a bit of time studying what Riddick was able to do against the Eagles.
“Theo did have a good game, so we looked at some things that he did,” Thompson said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to get those same mismatches.”
But Thompson added that it’s more of an in-game approach to how many touches he ultimately gets. If the defense primarily plays in a zone coverage, it may not be a good idea for quarterback Kirk Cousins to look Thompson’s way. But if it’s a man-to-man matchup, Thompson may have the edge.
“We’ll just have to wait until game time to see, ‘cause, you know, every team that we’ve prepared for has done something most of the games when we line up with them,” Thompson said. “So we just have to figure things out in those first couple of series’ to see what they are really going to do.”
Thompson’s unique skill set is extremely valuable to an NFL offense. Not many teams possess a running back that can catch balls from the backfield as well as Thompson. That allows McVay to deploy Thompson in virtually any offensive scenario in a number of different ways.
“Chris is one of those players that we do have a lot of confidence in,” McVay said. “He’s a guy that gives you the flexibility to kind of move him around the formation and try to get some of those matches that you like.”
“I think it’s very valuable in a way that the quarterback knows and has confidence that he has another receiver out there on top of Pierre [Garçon], D-Jack [DeSean Jackson], [Jamison] Crowder, Jordan [Reed] or Vernon [Davis], you know, depending on formations called,” Thompson said.
With Cousins’ top target, Reed, already questionable for Sunday with a concussion, Cousins may look Thompson’s way a bit more, as Thompson automatically becomes one of his more reliable options. That’s OK with Thompson, as he’s been preparing all week for the matchup. And he knows his clearly defined role ultimately makes things a bit easier for everyone.
“With the Eagles coming up this week, I think [my skill set] helps us out,” Thompson said. “It helps to kind of make our game plan during the week a little easier, where they can have us all on individual routes and then it’s just on us to earn our money.”