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Need to Know: Redskins seem confident in Matt Jones as the No. 1 back

Need to Know: Redskins seem confident in Matt Jones as the No. 1 back

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 21, 38 days before the NFL Draft.

Offseason thoughts: Redskins seem confident in Matt Jones as the No. 1 back

—There seems to be a lot of confidence in Matt Jones to be the replacement for Morris as the “lead dog” running back. Scot McCloughan allowed the top backs like Matt Forte and Lamar Miller (and their high price tags) to fly off of the board early and he has yet to do any serious bargain hunting among the ones who are left. They aren’t going to hand Jones the job but Jay Gruden and McCloughan believe that he can earn. That doesn’t mean that if a running back is the best player available in the first two rounds that McCloughan won’t pull the trigger. But for right now it looks like a later-round pick and/or a veteran picked up just before or just after the draft will provide the competition.

—Something that Chris Cooley said about a departing Redskin didn’t get the attention that what he said about Robert Griffin III got. However, what he said about Alfred Morris on ESPN 980 was pretty harsh as well. “He played in 2015 so hesitant, so tentatively, and without confidence and without the burst he had in the past . . . that you had to say ‘he’s not our guy’” said the former tight end. This jibes with the observations of many, including me. Morris just didn’t have the ability to make the first tackler miss and without that he is a very ordinary running back.

—Yesterday I wrote about the key Redskins who will be free agents in 2017 and WR Pierre Garçon was one of them. It is still possible that he could sign an extension sometime before the season starts, a move that could reduce his cap number this year and keep him in the building for 2017 and possibly 2018. They could create some cap room by reducing his $10.2 million charge in the process although as noted in the same post they don’t seem very anxious. It’s really a question of if they want to ensure that he will be around and if he wants to stay.

—They could also keep DeSean Jackson, also a free agent in 2017, beyond this season but I don’t see a contract being done prior to next year. If Jackson, who turns 30 late in the season, becomes more serious about preparing for the grind of 16 games they might consider keeping him around. Receivers who remain effective into their 30’s are the ones who spend their offseasons preparing. If we see a repeat of last year, with Jackson skipping OTAs and then missing a big chunk of training camp and all of the preseason games with a mild shoulder injury, the interest in bringing him back will be low.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 71 days ago. It will be about 174 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 28; 2016 NFL draft 38; Redskins training camp starts 129

In case you missed it

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3 reasons why Redskins promoting Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator makes sense

3 reasons why Redskins promoting Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator makes sense

Championship Sunday produced a flurry of Redskins news. A pair of internal promotions erased the team's vacant coordinator positions, as Greg Manusky landed the defensive coordinator spot and Matt Cavanaugh will take over as offensive coordinator. When Sean McVay left to coach the Rams, many expected Cavanaugh to take over his spot. Here are three reasons why:

  1. If it ain't broke, don't fix it - There was plenty to criticize from the Redskins the last two seasons, but not much of it came on offense. Cavanaugh joined the organization in 2015 as quarterback coach, and the offense has consistently improved in those two seasons. Though the team struggled to score TDs in the Red Zone, the 2016 version of the Redskins moved the ball at a team-record clip and ranked among the top offensive teams in NFL yardage. When something is working as well as the 'Skins offense, it's not wise to change it dramatically.
  2. Impressive work - Cavanaugh began coaching QBs for the Redskins in 2015. Kirk Cousins took over as Redskins starting quarterback in 2015. In two years working together, Cousins twice broke the Redskins franchise passing record and is now poised to get a mega-contract in free agency. Talking after the 'Skins loss to the Giants earlier this month, Jay Gruden said, "I think [Cousins'] really improved his game a lot in the last couple years. And a lot of it has to do with Matt Cavanaugh and Sean McVay."
  3. Make the call - The biggest question remaining for the Redskins - outside of the HUGE unknown surrounding Cousins - will be about play calling. All indications are that Jay Gruden will return to calling the plays from the Washington sideline, and obviously, that's a situation Cavanaugh understands. For two seasons now, Cavanaugh along with McVay, Gruden and offensive line coach Bill Callahan have had input on play calling. With McVay gone, Cavanaugh and Callahan will likely contribute even more in support of Gruden. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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Poll: What is your approval rating for the Manusky hire?

Poll: What is your approval rating for the Manusky hire?

Hit the poll and then come back here to comment or just replay on Twitter. Thanks!