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Need to Know: Can the Redskins get their running game going vs. the Jets?

Oct 14, 2015, 5:18 AM EDT

Matt-Jones-tackles-vs.-Falcons Getty Images

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, October 14, four days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Jets.

Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Jets

—The Redskins may have a shot at getting their running game going against the Jets. New York is giving up an average of 3.8 yards per carry, 11th in the NFL. That’s someone surprising since they have a pretty solid group of linebackers along with a defensive front featuring Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson (just back from suspension), and Leonard Williams, the player the Redskins bypassed to draft Brandon Scherff. The two could be lined up against each other on occasion, a matchup to watch.

—The Redskins are going to have to be on their toes defending the run. Chris Ivory could go all Devonta Freeman on them. He is one of three backs in the league who are averaging over 100 yards per game (he’s played in 3 as the Jets are coming off of their bye and he was out for their Week 3 game against the Eagles with a quad injury). The Redskins were doing a pretty good job of stopping the run prior to the Atlanta game and they need to hope that that performance was just a blip and not a trend.

—Will DeSean Jackson play? As each week since his injury passes the chances have gone up from “no way” to “slight chance” to “possibly”, which is where we are right now. He practiced very little last week, just taking part in some of the individual drills. It would take quite a ramping up for him to be ready to go on Sunday. They will need every weapon they can get to go up against the Jets, who give up just 5.3 yards per pass play.

—Kirk Cousins’ counterpart in this game, Ryan Fitzpatrick, also has had a case of being bitten by the turnover bug. Like Cousins, he has thrown six interceptions but he has done it playing one game fewer than Cousins and in 40 fewer pass attempts. Points could be hard to come by and it would help if the Redskins defense could create a few short fields for Cousins and the Redskins offense to work with.

—The Jets are 3-1 despite Fitzpatrick’s interceptions in part because they can take the ball away. They are tied for second in the league with a turnover margin of plus-6. The Jets have 13 takeaways (remember, they’ve played just four games) including recovering a remarkable seven of eight opponent fumbles. That luck will end sometime but there is nothing that says that it has to end this Sunday. Ball security will be at a premium this week.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:40; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30.

Days until: Redskins @ Jets 4; Bucs @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Patriots 25

In case you missed it

  1. colorofmyskinz - Oct 14, 2015 at 6:00 AM

    In order to get the running game going we need to stretch the field with a dangerous receiver. DJax used to do that for us. If we can’t get him to do it, we may have to rotate Ross in to do it. But we have to take a shot down field with whoever we want to stretch the field with. We can’t just put Ross or DJax in and not take that shot down field. We need to quit being so damn predictable with play calls. How many first downs do we run on?? For Christ sakes we are an open book. Our game planning and play calling sucks period. Have we ever thought about throwing on first down? Omg. Something is wrong with either McVay or gruden with play calling. Not liking mcVay in my opinion. Not thinking he has the creativity and exeperience to run that position. I am thinking we demote gruden to o coordinator and get a new head coach honestly. Place mcVay back on TE development. I think. He is over his is head.

    • babyteal1 - Oct 14, 2015 at 8:18 AM

      Your right about the first down running calls…drives me nuts. Also no blitzing on the defense side of the ball.

    • goback2rfk - Oct 14, 2015 at 10:17 AM

      Seems to me we are slowly phasing out Alfred Morris. This is beginning of the end to Mr. Alfred.
      However, they may keep him around cause they only pay him like 20 bucks a game. Maybe he can get Cousins van for a good deal. Best wishes Alfred. Heck of a 2012 season like.

      • brucefan1 - Oct 14, 2015 at 12:15 PM

        Watching Freeman run wild in Atlanta’s stretch zone offense last Sunday made me think about how great Alfred looked back in ’12 & ’13! It was like deja vu all over again.

        I’ve read in several places that that is the kind of offense Morris thrives in, and it’s hard to disagree. He’s just not the same with this straight ahead stuff. Maybe a bit too small — and a half a step too slow to exploit the few times he does break through?

        It will be interesting to see how the running evolves from here — but it does seem that SOMETHING needs to change. (Cuz well all know that wear-worn definition of “insanity”, right?)

      • ajbus1 - Oct 14, 2015 at 11:54 PM

        They need to give him the damn ball! I’m glad that Jones has potential but sometimes it seems like they’re rotated too much and neither gets going. During the preseason we were told Morris was still the guy. I think they should be riding Morris more while sprinkling in Jones. The way they’re splitting the carries is limiting both backs, especially Morris.

        • sidepull - Oct 15, 2015 at 7:21 AM

          Morris will get you a 1,000 yards this year. But, he needs the ball to do it. No patience.

        • abanig - Oct 15, 2015 at 11:46 AM

          During the preseason RG3 was still the guy also, things change.

          I want Alf to be the guy, but we all have to be honest that he has to start showing more positive plays if he wants to remain “the guy.”

        • ajbus1 - Oct 15, 2015 at 10:07 PM

          Well, being honest, the only thing that’s changed with Alf is he’s had carries taken away from him. RG was an epic fail in the preseason. To me Morris and many other backs need to be fed the ball consistently not occasionally. A good example was Frank Gore last week against the Texans. He had a lot of 2-3 yard runs but they stuck with it and he ended up with 22 carries for 98 yards. As soon as Alf or Jones has a couple 2-3 yarders they’re yanked. Alf, being the established veteran, should be the main ball carrier and Jones the compliment.

        • abanig - Oct 15, 2015 at 10:32 PM

          Griffin only played 2 quarters this preseason, one was about average and would have been good if Garcon caught a pass and made a play for his qb, something Garcon is good at sometimes, but other times he lets his qb down with drops.

          Griffin was getting beat up vs Det. Some of it was on him, but not all of it. You can argue he should have been taken out after the series when he got rocked by the free blitzing linebakxee and oh by the way, Roberts – surprisingly – dropped a good pass from Griffin on that play that should have been a first down despite the fact that Griffin knew he was going to get anialated after he released the ball. Griffin could have done different things on that play, I’d advise he could have pump faked Levy out of the way and then seen if he could find someone open after that and if not, run for what he could.

          Both of our young qbs need playing time, we can only play one at a time though. It’s Cousins time to show that he can continue to improve and be the qb here in DC though. Since he’s the starter, I want Cousins to play well and hopefully play better than he has so far moving forward.

    • Trey Gregory - Oct 14, 2015 at 11:32 PM

      @color: I get your point about teams stacking the box and U.S. Needing to stretch the field. But I don’t think using Desean or Ross more will help much, even if we take shots. I think the Jets would gladly stack the box and out one on one coverage on Ross and dare Cousins to air it out. We may get one or two big plays. Butt I bet That’s a fight they’re confident they’ll win in the long run.

      You’re also right about the playcalling. But they don’t want to turn the ball over. They want to play it safe. Get Cousins in a 3rd and short to pass, or else just punt the ball instead of taking chances and turning it over. I bet Gruden and McVeigh’s playcalling would be much different if they get a real QB in 2016. I think they’re just trying to work with what they got. Our only chance to stay in a game is to not turn the ball over

  2. babyteal1 - Oct 14, 2015 at 8:20 AM

    Your right about the 1st down run plays…drives me nuts. Also the no blitzing defense!!

  3. vcuramsfan - Oct 14, 2015 at 8:23 AM

    I think teams are going to just prepare for us by making Cousins beat them through the air. Which means teams are going to do everything to stop the running game. Missing our #1 and #2 receiving threats hurts a lot, but I think Cousins is up to the task.

    • sidepull - Oct 15, 2015 at 7:22 AM

      Revis. He is licking his chops.

  4. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Oct 14, 2015 at 8:51 AM

    I hope Reed makes it back. He’s like a safety blanket for Cousins.
    ~

    • goback2rfk - Oct 14, 2015 at 10:12 AM

      No way Reed will be back on Sunday. The mans brain is scrambled eggs. He needs more time to recover. The Redskins will probably have to make a decision on the injury prone Reed in the off season. We gotta get guys that can stay on the field.

      • Trey Gregory - Oct 14, 2015 at 11:27 PM

        This is Reed’s second NFL concussion. I know he had 4 in college but it’s not like that was last year. They have been spread out. I would hardly call his brain scrambled eggs.

        I know concussions are serious and concerning (I was a military medic, trust me, I know) but let’s not go overboard. I know this seems like a lot, but think about how many players probably had way more than 4 concussions through their career, played full careers, but it was never reported. We freak out about this stuff now because we’re actually looking for it, tracking it, and being educated about it. But this is nothing new to the NFL. Although I can’t prove it, I’m certain that there’s plenty of NFL players on the field every Sunday who have had 4 or more concussions and have either just hid it or got them before there was such a focus.

        But of all Reed’s injury prone ways, this is one he has little control over. All human skulls and brains are basically the same. Any player, no matter how durable, who gets hit in the head with a certain force will suffer a concussion. This just isn’t one of those cases where I’m concerned with Reed’s ability to stay on the field. It’s one of those things that just happens.

  5. abanig - Oct 14, 2015 at 9:12 AM

    I don’t think we’ll be able to run the ball effectively on the jets DL if we didn’t on the Giants, Eagles and Falcons.

    Expect more short passing with a few deep shots during the game to Ross or hopefully Jackson if he plays.

    • Skulb - Oct 14, 2015 at 11:27 PM

      It would have helped if Ross has caught one of the deep balls he´s had thrown at him. I thought he should have had a shot on at least the one in Atlanta. As for the running game our run blocking is not good right now. I also don´t like the committee approach. They should pick either Jones or Morris and stick with them for 60% of the snaps and let Thompson keep third down. If you go with Morris, which is what I would suggest, then you can rotate Jones in for him in the fourth quarter when the defense has been worn down. I am hoping this is what they will decide going forward.

      • ajbus1 - Oct 14, 2015 at 11:57 PM

        I just commented a minute ago and couldn’t agree more about the running game.

      • abanig - Oct 15, 2015 at 11:26 AM

        I 100% agree

    • sidepull - Oct 15, 2015 at 7:25 AM

      Wonder if they will even throw Revis’s way?

      • abanig - Oct 15, 2015 at 11:29 AM

        They should, they just have to be careful what kind of throws they throw in that direction and make sure that Cousins is throwing to Garcon or Djax in that direction.

  6. Johnny B. - Oct 14, 2015 at 9:15 AM

    My opinion which means almost nothing is if they keep Alf with 25 to 30 carries use Matt as a situational back special plays in the running and passing game along with Chris we will get the running game started. We also need to take it down field. Stop being so passive on the play calling and get the defense to play better than last week not so passive in the run defense we will win. But getting the coaches to understand that is the biggest problem

  7. bangkokben - Oct 14, 2015 at 9:42 AM

    Play action on 1st down. Screens on 1st or 2nd down. Run on 2nd and 10 when applicable. And keep the chains moving. Run Morris and bring in Jones after Morris has softened the defense. Bringing him in too soon helps nobody but the opposition. Stop the run and make Fitz beat you.

    • ET - Oct 14, 2015 at 12:34 PM

      ” Stop the run and make Fitz beat you.”

      Could be an interesting four quarters if both teams force the opposing QB into a more prominent role. I’d gladly take Cousins over Fitzpatrick in the abstract, but that Jets’ defense is pretty gnarly. If the Skins can manage to stay on the positive side of the turnover situation, that’ll make things a lot easier. (I mean, duh. But the Skins gotta get better at takeaways v. giveaways. No better time than the present.)

    • sidepull - Oct 15, 2015 at 7:30 AM

      Thats what I thought was going to be the plan at the start of the season. Morris primary, Jones battering ram and CT change up, screens, etc. What they are doing right now is ineffective. Being a running team takes patience, is boring until it opens up opportunities downfield. I still wish they would have snagged Pierre Thomas……

  8. mr.moneylover - Oct 14, 2015 at 9:42 AM

    They can but the last two weeks instead of our O-line moving forwards they been getting pushed back and no holes are bein open up in the run game…I think bill c. Will fix that but its up to the players to go out there and execute

  9. redsavage - Oct 14, 2015 at 10:50 AM

    Im sorry alfred you no longer run luje you uaed to and it has nothing to do with the days of rg3 u no longer bounce of tackles like u used to there was a time when the first oerson couldnt tackle you i just dont see alfred getting resigned next year and for these reasons we need to run our one headed monster and that folks is not morris but the rookie jones we need to give him the chance to get comfortable with defenses so he can break those long runs that he so definitely can . Other than this toe injury slowing him down he needs to be carrying the ball 20 to 30 times again give hime these reps now so he can be even more polished next year

  10. redsavage - Oct 14, 2015 at 11:03 AM

    Im sorry alfred you no longer run like you used to and it has nothing to do with the days of rg3 u no longer bounce of tackles like u used to there was a time when the first person couldnt tackle you i just dont see alfred getting resigned next year and for these reasons we need to run our one headed monster and that folks is not morris but the rookie jones we need to give him the chance to get comfortable with defenses so he can break those long runs that he so definitely can . Other than this toe injury slowing him down he needs to be carrying the ball 20 to 30 times …again give hime these reps now so he can be even more polished next year

  11. davem23 - Oct 14, 2015 at 12:13 PM

    If they are playing on turf why are they practicing on grass?

  12. 1222tmiller - Oct 15, 2015 at 1:22 PM

    I do buy it. This is how I would break things up

    1st quarter, play Morris
    2nd quarter, spot Morris now and then with Jones
    3rd quarter, let Jones have 2/3 of the runs.
    4th quarter, play which ever makes sense. If the defense is really fast, I would lean toward playing Jones more. If Morris has a hot hand I would play him more.

    • abanig - Oct 15, 2015 at 2:53 PM

      I really don’t think you can script this out and have pitch counts per day like some are suggesting.

      You start Morris. If Morris is going well like vs Miami, you stick with him for the majority of the carries. If Morris is struggling like vs St Louis, you get Jones in there and see if he can get going.

      None of this first quarter one guy, next quarter the other. Seeing Morris on the sidelines for nearly a whole quarter and Jones not being particularly affective is painful to watch.

      Keep in mind that Matt Jones will be slowed by a sprained toe also. I think this week is a Morris week. I hope Morris effective enough early on that he ends up with over 20 carries. If Morris gets that many carries the likelihood that we win the game improves.

      Again, Thompson is a change of pace & 3rd down receiving back. I don’t ever see Thompson having double digit carries in a game of either of the other two are healthy.

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