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Need to Know: The offseason pressure is on Redskins RB Jones

May 8, 2016, 6:19 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 8, five days before the Washington Redskins hold their rookie minicamp.


—The Redskins last played a game 119 days ago. It will be 127 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Rookie minicamp 5; OTAs start 16; Redskins training camp starts 82

Hot topics

—Besides the quarterback, the player on offense under the most pressure to perform this year will be Matt Jones. The team let Alfred Morris walk in free agency and they waited until the seventh round to draft his replacement. And at this point the often injured, lightly used Keith Marshall isn’t even a sure bet to make the team. Jones will need to stay healthy while averaging 15-20 carries per game, add about a yard to the 3.4 per carry average he posted last year, and make fumbles very rare occurrences.

—It’s relatively easy to plot out who will start in Week 1 and map out what is likely to happen with the depth chart but the unexpected is always out there. I was on SiriusXM radio last night with the Football Diehards and they asked me if I thought that Josh Doctson would push Pierre Garçon out of the starting lineup by sometime around midseason. While I said that I don’t think that will happen, I certainly can’t rule it out. Doctson could play well enough to force his way into the starting lineup at some point. The question would be, who would he push aside. Garçon or DeSean Jackson.

—Everyone wants to know what Su’a Cravens’ role will be this year. But we’re going to have to wait to see. The coaches can look at his college film and how fast and quick he is and sort of sketch something out. But until he gets on the field with other NFL players they really won’t know what he can do. I think it will evolve over the offseason and as training camp, the preseason, and the regular season go on. The one safe thing to say is that he will play a lot, 70 to 80 percent of the defensive snaps.

—In 2010 Brandon Banks came to rookie minicamp as a tryout player. At 5-7, 150 he made it look like one of the coaches’ middle school sons had gotten hold of a helmet and jersey and snuck onto the field. We will have a player at the other size extreme at rookie camp this Friday. Massive offensive tackle Kevin Bowen signed as an undrafted free agent out of East Central (OK). He is 6-9 and 330 pounds. It looks like he can move pretty well for his size. Bowen should be an interesting—and, because of his size, easy—prospect to keep an eye on.

Wins meter (my totally subjective prediction on how many regular season games the Redskins will win): 9—After getting Norman and drafting well they’ll be better but a tougher slate keep their record from improving.

In case you missed it 


  1. sidepull - May 8, 2016 at 7:00 AM

    I never will understand why they took Marshall in the later rounds when Booker was sitting there in the 4th. Cards got a good back I believe. The answer is they didn’t think he was worth the pick and whose to argue that? Anyhow water under the bridge. Not one sturdy back in the bunch, somebody you an say is going to show up every game and play hard ala Charlie Brown….. Hopefully last year watching Jones sit on the bench during the playoff game wont be repeated and he stays healthy this season. Other than that I thought Redd was going to offer some stability. Again, wrong about that. Maybe Pierre Thomas or somebody else comes in to give some stability to what seems to me to be a crap shoot at running back as far as who will stay healthy enough to show up on weekly basis.

  2. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 8, 2016 at 8:02 AM

    My favorite Brandon Banks photo:


  3. skinsgame - May 8, 2016 at 8:41 AM

    I think the team gets a cap casualty before preseason is over. Some team, somewhere, will replace an aging, expensive, veteran RB and there will be an addition to the stable. Otherwise, this is the weakest position on the team by a mile. Weaker than NT. Jones didn’t show much last year down the stretch.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 8, 2016 at 8:49 AM

      I’m guessing that if the team isn’t satisfied with the current crop of young players at the position, they’ll make that call to Pierre Thomas first.

      He’s a known quantity.

      • bangkokben - May 8, 2016 at 9:03 AM

        Gruden apparently loves him so I see that coming as well. Anytime from June 2nd to August 15th.

  4. bangkokben - May 8, 2016 at 9:02 AM

    RB will be fine this year as they move away from a run first mentality to a pass first philosophy. Cue the band there will be plenty of touchdowns this year. The running game will remain the weak point of the offense but so what as long as it doesn’t lose any games.

    As far as Doctson pushing anyone off the starting line up, that would be a good thing but let’s hope he keeps guys like Ross, Roberts, and Grant off the field.

    Cravens will start at strong safety or take over Kyshoen Jarrett’s extra safety role which was always on the field.

    Nine seems like a reasonable number to me. I’ve got the Giants at nine too. Dallas at seven and Philly at five.

    • Trey Gregory - May 8, 2016 at 6:40 PM

      I have to assume you’re only giving Dallas 7 wins because you’re expecting Romo to get hurt? I just can’t do that because if I project 8-9 wins from Washington that’s based on Cousins playing around the same level as last year, or better. Both are unknowns. But looking at Dallas, and assuming Romo stays healthy, I think they have to be considered contenders to win the NFC East. The defense isn’t great but that offense is scary. Then if a couple of their players on D get their stuff together, and stay healthy, look out.

      I actually think this conference is about to get nasty real quick. I can’t pick a winner between Washington, Dallas, and the NYG. I think each team had a decent-to-good draft and are on collision courses if their QB situations stay the same.

      If Wentz just happens to work out Philly could be okay. But there’s too many unknowns there.

      • bangkokben - May 8, 2016 at 7:43 PM

        Trey, you live in TX, right? Don’t let the blue-star hype in the water and air get to you. EVERYTHING in the future is an unknown. We can ONLY go on the probability. So let’s take your IFs and put a % on them.

        1) Cousins playing at the same level as he did last year? 85% Could go higher or lower. He’s going to be in year two in the same system, same HC, same OC, same weapons + Doctson, Davis, and Paul. Likely better defense. He does have that one year big $ contract and expectations hanging over him.

        2) Assuming Romo stays healthy. 40% Why in the world would a 36-year-old QB who has had multiple broken bones in his torso and hasn’t played a full season in 3 years suddenly be injury free for the whole year? Even when he’s played in the last three years it’s on duct tape and chicken wire. So what if he has great O-line? If he’s still going to hold onto the ball until the last second, his chances of avoiding injury are not good. Old dogs don’t exactly learn new tricks. %40 is beginning to sound too high to me.

        3) Offense is scary. 50% That’s based on EVERYTHING falling their way. They have a rookie RB, a brittle QB without a legit back-up, a diva WR coming off his own injury, and an over the hill TE. Potential to be good due to that line that led them to…wait for it…4-12 (one victory without Romo and that’s with the entire line not missing one game due to injury). Can that happen again? Doubtful. Usually just one team a season has that kind of luck.

        4) “if a couple of their players on D get their stuff together” 55% Which couple? Brandon Carr and Mo Claiborne? That would help. Two guys suddenly blossoming out of nowhere? It can happen, but counting on it? Why should we do that for Dallas? Do we do that for any other team in the NFL? Even if it is Gregory and Lawrence, that’ll have to wait until week 5.

        5) and stay healthy %50 Injuries are impossible to predict — other than that THEY WILL HAPPEN. To who and when are the critical questions. The Cardinals and Bengals had very successful seasons derail at the end of the year to significant injuries. Sean Lee as fantastic as he is has never started an entire season in his five year career. Maybe this is the year.

        Call me skeptical, but there are reasons for this skepticism.

        • Trey Gregory - May 9, 2016 at 2:57 AM

          Ha. Yes, I live in Waco. About 2 hours from Dallas. But I don’t think that’s influencing my opinion. If anything, I spend more time convincing Cowboys fan friends that their team isn’t as bad as they think. I love my team. I’m borderline obsessive. But I just love football too. And I like talking football. What I don’t like is talking football with fans who see their team through fan goggles and make all these hyperbolic and grandiose statements about how good their team is and how bad other teams suck. So I try very hard to stay objective. Because I enjoy objective conversations.

          And I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m saying you’re one of those fans, because I’m not at all. I know you’re not.

          All that to say that I honestly think Dallas has a pretty good team on paper. I don’t necessarily disagree with anything you said. Except maybe how you’re downplaying Dez and Ezekiel Elliot. But that’s all opinion.

          We can’t guarantee anyone will stay healthy. But Romo did have surgery to reinforce that bone. Maybe it works. Seems like he’s due for a healthy season. Lee is absolutely due. And yes, I was mostly talking about Gregory and Claiborne; Byron Jones too. If those guys all come on, that D may not be terrible. And if the offense is good enough to execute long scoring drives then they could control the clock and keep their defense off the field. Much like 2014. And I personally think Elliot has twice the potential Murray ever had. He’s still a rookie, and we still have to see him on the field, but Gurley was a rookie last year too.

          It’s my opinion that at least 3 NFC East teams seem to be moving in the right direction and getting pretty good. We have to see how those free agents in NY work out. But, if they do, they should be good. So I think this division is going to be very competitive over the next couple years. More so than recently. Again, assuming the QB situation for all teams works out.

        • bangkokben - May 9, 2016 at 7:49 AM

          I agree that the division will be competitive. (I had the three teams we agree on being separated by just two games.) As for Dallas, they DO have potential but I’ll take the Giant’s uncertainty of FAs in a new environment over Dallas’ potential. Romo and Lee due for healthy years? That is based in what? The law of averages running out? That is irrational. Both of them being due in the same year? Again, your fear is betting on the LEAST likely scenario. The MOST likely scenario is that both miss two-three games and play injured in another two. That may NOT be a significant loss for them this season. Dez Bryant returning to form is a much safer bet but he’ll need a healthy Romo and the secondary targets doing a better job getting open. Elliot has great potential as well but even Gurley didn’t hit the season at full speed. As for the defensive guys, it could all click but the track record isn’t there yet. So these again are betting the best but not the most likely scenario. My point is if you’re going to take the best case scenario for the Cowboys and compare it to a middle-of-the-road scenario of the Redskins, of course the Cowboys are going to look better.

        • bangkokben - May 9, 2016 at 9:02 AM

          Let me know when you’re on Fixer Upper. That’s my wife’s favorite show.

  5. colorofmyskinz - May 8, 2016 at 9:14 AM

    Jones will be a beast period and shock the world!! Docston will be a beast as well. Will take away from Ross and Grant. Roberts is gone as soon as he clears physical. Cravens will be a starting SS in my opinion at some point. Sean Taylor is back on our team. We are deep at most positions except RB. But Jones and Marshall will dominate the number 1 and 2 spot all year. We need more RBs for sure from FA. What about Bowen at NT??? That would be a hell of a conversion… Lol


    • Bryan - May 8, 2016 at 9:22 AM

      Love you enthusiasm. but lets not put the pressure on him expectations that he will be any where near Sean Taylor but I do like him and think he will help but love the excitement you talk about. Httr

    • shanevalliere19 - May 8, 2016 at 10:39 AM

      I was thinking the same thing when you mentioned moving Bowen to NT. 6’9″ and 330 would be a mountain in the middle. If he moves as well as Rich mentioned then he could solve a lot for this team. HTTR!!!

      • Trey Gregory - May 8, 2016 at 6:32 PM

        Anything is possible but the guy was already undrafted at the position he played. Quinton Dunbar was such a good story last year because stuff like that is rare. I wouldn’t count on an offensive tackle transitioning to defensive tackle and making an immediate impact. Maybe in a couple years, but not immediate.

        Granted, if they only want him to 2-gap for 15 plays a game then maybe. But we shouldn’t expect to get any pass rush help from him.

        The exciting thing about this draft’s DTs were that s few of them seemed to be tweeners: guys would could stuff the run as a 0 technique then slide over in a 4 man front and pass rush. I think McCloughan believes he found that with Ioannidis. It might be a little unreasonable to expect a 5th round pick to start right away, but I think he’s a safer bet than Bowen.

    • John - May 8, 2016 at 10:44 AM

      Looks like somebody got into the Kool Aid. Cravens is no Sean Taylor. Dime backer, perhaps a poor mans Cam Chancellor but not a Sean Taylor.

      Still wish they got a complimentary back with a different running style. Marshall has great speed for his size but no moves. Would love to see SF dump Reggie Bush and the Skins pick him up. Pierre Thomas would suffice otherwise.

  6. ericstylezz - May 8, 2016 at 9:33 AM

    Now that our team is better this will be a glaring weak spot if he doesn’t progress alot. Morris was such a safe bet, still don’t get it

  7. troylok - May 8, 2016 at 10:01 AM

    I thought they would put a little more emphasis on running back in the draft than what they did and it makes me wonder what McGloughin knows that we don’t know. Since Seattle has retired Marshawn Lynch, does that mean they have relinquished all rights and he could un-retire to play for any team? Maybe one of the rookies is better than we think. Or maybe there is a trade brewing. We’re flush on receivers. Could one of them be bait for a trade for a running back?

    • xviixxiixxvi - May 8, 2016 at 10:27 AM

      Say it with me now: “McCloughan” (Mick-Loo-In).

    • colorofmyskinz - May 8, 2016 at 1:03 PM

      Great idea! DJax for Ezekiel Elliot! And their next years first round pick. Dallas is truly dumb enough to jump on that.

    • Trey Gregory - May 8, 2016 at 6:50 PM

      Seattle will retain Lynch’s rights if he comes out of retirement.

      I don’t think there’s a magical solution at RB. At least not for a household name (unless Arian Foster makes a miraculous comeback or something). But that doesn’t mean we can’t find a steady vet, like Pierre Thomas, to help. Or that one of our guys can’t break out.

      It’s very early with Jones. One season isn’t enough to know. His mistakes were than he ran too high and fumbled. Both aren’t uncommon with young RBs and can be corrected. Guys can also learn to stay healthy. That’s what we’re baking on with Reed. Jones could very well have a breakout season.

      Marshall is a stretch to contribute, but you never know. Or maybe Chris Thompsom breaks out. Or another rookie we poach. You never know. But chances are that we don’t have a great run game in 2016. A realistic expectation would be for the line to get better with run blocking. Which should happen with Scherff/Moses/Long; then and if Lavau comes back; and we should have better blocking from our TEs. It’s also realistic to expect Jones to take a small step forward and for us to really rely on the passing game to open the run. I would prefer a strong run game too but that may not be realistic.

  8. tony - May 8, 2016 at 7:25 PM

    Out of the top 20 RB’s coming out of last year’s draft, Matt Jones was in the top 5 in fumbles per carry…. also out of the same top 20, he was in the top 5 for smallest hand size. His fumbling is not a coincidence. His hand size is a question. Hopefully he can do something to be more conscious of protecting the football.

    • Trey Gregory - May 9, 2016 at 5:21 AM

      Who was ahead of him and did they have a lot of fumbles? And did the guys who had bigger hands have less fumbles? And exactly how much smaller were his hands? Are we talking a significant difference or just a hair?

      I’m just asking because that could be a false cause. I understand your thought process but that’s not necessarily why he had so many fumbles. Sometimes rookies fumble for no other reason than they’re inexperienced and carry the ball too loose.

      But it would be interesting to see the actual numbers and try to find out how much hand size has to do with RB fumbles. Maybe I’ll have enough time to look some of that up tomorrow.

  9. zatoichi7 - May 8, 2016 at 8:24 PM

    udfa robert kelley, rb tulane, could be a player. he didn’t get a lot of touches, a plus for mccloughan, he runs hard, has some burst, and makes people miss.

  10. Ainsworth Walker - May 8, 2016 at 8:25 PM

    I believe the Skins go in to regret lettting Alfred Morris go. Especially to the Cowboys.

    • Trey Gregory - May 9, 2016 at 5:14 AM

      I don’t even know how much Morris is going to play for them. I haven’t looked at his contract, but if they have/had an out, they might take/have taken it. They drafted Elliot #4 overall to start and be the bell cow.

      I’ll miss Morris. The guy was great for us. But I don’t think he fit into Gruden’s offense well. So I don’t know how useful he would have been. And, for reasons I just stated, I don’t think him going to the Cowboys will hurt us that much.

  11. 226thebeatdontstop - May 9, 2016 at 12:14 PM

    If the Skis are relying on Jones to last a full season and be consistently productive they will be disappointed. Without a reliable running game they will not make the playoffs. Jones was injured in college and he showed last year he is brittle.

    Even with all the rule changes favoring the offense if teams can’t run the ball late October thru November they will be at home watching the playoffs. Pass happy Gruden will be come very predictable and there is no way Cousins comes close to what he did last year Archives

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