Quick Links

Need to Know: Should the Redskins stick with one back?

Need to Know: Should the Redskins stick with one back?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, October 15, three days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Jets.

Should the Redskins reconsider running back by committee?

There is a new line of conventional wisdom brewing out there among Redskins fans and some in the media. The problem with the Redskins’ rushing attack, says this new theory, is that they need to settle on one running back. Switching between Alfred Morris and Matt Jones is not permitting either one of them to get into a “rhythm”, and they are both supposedly “rhythm” backs.

According to this line of thinking, neither is in the game for long enough to be effective, to establish that rhythm. I asked Jay Gruden about this and he didn’t buy it.

“I don’t know. There probably is some validity to it, but there’s also some validity to keeping them fresh and having a package of plays for each back that we feel good about. There are certain things that Matt Jones does better than Alfred. There are certain things that Alfred does better than Matt Jones . . . We try to mix and match our system to the best personnel that we have at that time on that play call.”

The other reason not to abandon the multi-back rushing attack is that there really isn’t any evidence that either of them plays better with more carries.

In his 53 games with the Redskins, here are Morris’ average yards per carry by quarter:

First—4.2
Second—5.0
Third—4.7
Fourth—3.7

The number that jumps out at you is the fourth-quarter average. It is a half yard lower than his average in any other quarter and a full yard lower than his average in the third quarter. If he is a back who needs work to get into a “rhythm”, shouldn’t that average per carry go up as the game goes on?

You can’t attach much significance to Jones’ quarterly rushing splits because his five-game sample size is too small. But, for the record, here they are:

First—5.7
Second—4.0
Third—1.6
Fourth—4.3

I think we will have to say there is not enough evidence to prove or disprove the notion that Jones gets better with more carries.

Just because I was curious, I pulled up the numbers for the entire league. Here is the collective rushing average per quarter:

First—4.1
Second—4.1
Third—4.3
Fourth—3.9

Certainly there no general trend of backs getting stronger in the fourth quarter around the NFL. In fact, the average falls off a cliff between the third and fourth quarters.

It sounds nice to talk about rhythm and a running back will always tell you that he’d rather get more carries than fewer. But the numbers here don’t back up any assertion that more is better.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Joe Barry news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30.

Days until: Redskins @ Jets 3; Bucs @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Patriots 24

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Long injury list hampers Redskins practice

Long injury list hampers Redskins practice

As Jay Gruden stepped to the podium to read the injury report, he warned, “This will be a while.”

He was right, as he rattled off one the longest injury reports of the season.

Out were G Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion), DE Chris Baker (ankle), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Anthony Lanier (lower leg), G Shawn Lauvao (groin), OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle), and S Donte Whitner (illness).

Of that group, all but Jean Francois, Lanier, and Nsekhe are starters. Between them and the limited players listed below it was difficult for the Redskin to conduct a normal practice.

“It was a challenge,” said Gruden of getting through it. “Practice was modified quite a bit today. We did more walkthrough today than we ever have on a Wednesday.”

“Sometimes you have to taper back just a hair to make it through practice, try to get the mental reps in with walkthrough and then hopefully the physical part will come maybe tomorrow. Friday we can open them up a bit.”

Limited in practice were TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), OLB Preston Smith (groin), ILB Will Compton (hip), G Brandon Scherff (ankle), and TE Derek Carrier (knee).

Reed returned to practice for the first time since suffering a Grade 3 sprain to the AC joint in his left shoulder in the game against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. He missed the game in Arizona. While his limited participation was a good sign for his return it’ is way too early in the week to say with any degree of certainty that he will be playing against the Eagles.

Quick Links

Robert Griffin III set to start Sunday for Browns vs. Bengals

Robert Griffin III set to start Sunday for Browns vs. Bengals

RGIII is finally getting another chance to play.

Plagued by injury after injury — most recently breaking a bone in his left shoulder in the Brown’s 29-10 loss to the Eagles in their season opener — the former Redskin is set to start for Cleveland against the Bengals on Sunday, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reports.

Griffin was cleared for contact last week after missing the majority of the Browns’ 0-12 season, and the team is coming off a bye week after its last loss to the Giants over Thanksgiving weekend.

In 2015, Kirk Cousins replaced Griffin as starting quarterback, and the Redskins released him at the end of the season. He signed a two-year, $15 million contract with Cleveland in March.  

In Griffin’s absence, the Browns have relied on Cody Kessler and Josh McCown, who boast a 65.5 and 54.5 completion percentage, respectively. The two combine for just 12 touchdowns this season.

Will Griffin be the key to ending the Browns’ winless season? We’ll find out Sunday.

MORE NFL: Trent Williams is back but shed little light on suspension