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Need to Know: Redskins RBs are holding on to the ball

Aug 3, 2016, 5:34 AM EDT

Matt Jones fumble drill AP

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, August 3, eight days before the Washington Redskins open their preseason in Atlanta against the Falcons.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Walkthrough 10:30; Jay Gruden press conference 2:45; Practice (special teams only) 3:00

—The Redskins last played a game 206 days ago. It will be 40 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason vs. Jets @FedEx Field 16; Final roster cut 31; Cowboys @ Redskins 46

Breaking down camp

I have a lot of fun doing the live practice blogs but I can’t always get into much analysis since there is always something going on. So I’m going to pull out a few observations from yesterday and go into some more depth.

The defenders are trying hard to rip the ball out of the hands of all of the running backs, not just Matt Jones. So far I have not yet seen them be successful.

I’m not going to say that the running backs have not yet fumbled because I haven’t seen every play. But through five sessions I haven’t seen a fumble by a running back and, again, it’s not because the defense hasn’t been trying. I think that Jones picked up some bad habits last year and the team put an emphasis on teaching proper technique to Jones and to the rookies and the other young running backs on the roster.

In 11 on 11 in the red zone, Cousins threw a little swing pass to Jackson, who scampered in for the score. Jackson did not score a touchdown from a play from the red zone last year.

Jackson caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Robert Griffin III in 2013. Since he has been with the Redskins his shorted TD reception other than that was a 28-yard catch last year. I don’t think you want to make him a regular red zone target but I think you could sneak him out there every once in a while the defense is focused on Reed, Davis, Garçon, Doctson and company in the red zone.

Preston Smith is not just a pass rusher. He just got in the backfield and disrupted a play with Jones going up the middle before it ever got started.

Smith didn’t really struggle against the run last year but it wasn’t a strong point of his either. He’s going to play a lot more snaps this year and they will test him in the rushing game. If he can make a few big players against the run they might not test him as much.

There have been a lot of yellow flags on the field during this 11 on 11 session. They’re getting a bit ragged it appears.

They had a partial crew of actual NFL officials who were in town to explain the new rule changes to the players and media. It seemed like every time you looked up there was a flag for holding or for a false start or offsides against the defense. I’m not sure if the Redskins were just having a bad day or if the officials were catching things that they have been doing all along. The Redskins averaged nearly 19 fewer penalty yards per game last year compared to 2014 so they need that trend to continue.

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  1. colorofmyskinz - Aug 3, 2016 at 5:51 AM

    I think everyone seems to forget that Alfred Morris fumbled 4 times his rookie year and 5 times his second year. That is 9 fumbles the first 2 years. So if Jones fumbles 4 times this year to match Morris, will the fans, media, and team have the same level of patience as they had with Morris?? Something tells me not.

    I think everyone is making a bigger deal about the fumbles than there really is. I think he understands by now. I don’t remember Morris getting hazed like this. Maybe it is because of the number of yards he got that year. However, he did not have to split runs with a Morris either. Let’s cut the guy some slack and believe in what Scot and Gruden see – A BEAST of a running back. Way more of a beast than slow-mo Morris.

    I loved Morris when he used to get yards after first contact (that was only in a read option offense with zone running). Once the offense change his abilities showed, average at best.

    Jones will have a breakout year like Trent clams. And I believe him. Let’s rally around Jones because he is going to wake up the NFL this year! HTTR!

    • sidepull - Aug 3, 2016 at 6:50 AM

      What I liked about Morris, he was durable and he did get the yards early on. Morris was never really great as a receiver out of the backfield so Jones has him there. I still think Jones still has a lot to prove. I hated seeing him sitting on the bench against the Packers.. Not that it would have changed the outcome but just the fact there it was a huge game and he wasn’t in it,

    • darcrequiem - Aug 3, 2016 at 9:11 AM

      You aren’t taking into account the number of carries. Alfred had 335 carries his rookie year. 276 carries in his second year. Jones had 144 carries. He fumbled twice as often as Alfred.

      That why there is so much concern. He’s going to be the bell cow back this year. We can’t have him coughing up the ball 8 or 9 times in a single season.

    • bangkokben - Aug 3, 2016 at 10:24 AM

      Nobody’s forgetting. That has been brought up ad nauseum as “THE WEAKEST” defense for Jones. The RATE of fumbles was significantly higher as well as the team ACTUALLY losing the ball. Nobody cares about fumbles just before the back is taken to ground that the back actually recovers. It’s as if it never happened.

      This (the Morris comparison) wouldn’t even be a topic if you hadn’t brought it up. The fan base supports Jones — what else can they do — but their not ignorant of his issues. Just like last year, Cousins had to prove he made improvements in giving away the ball. The fans will cheer when he backs it up.

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 3, 2016 at 4:13 PM

      Nobody will complain if Jones racks up anywhere near the amount of yards as Morris in 2012-2013. But people will gripe, and rightfully so, if he’s averaging somewhere around 3 yards per carry and fumbling every other game. He can shut everybody up by producing. It’s that simple.

  2. Bryan - Aug 3, 2016 at 6:10 AM

    Didn’t DJax kinda “redeem” himself with a red zone TD against Dallas?

    • bangkokben - Aug 3, 2016 at 10:28 AM

      No. A red-zone TD is within 20 yards of the opponents end zone. As far as redemption, he just brought the scoring margin back to where it was minutes before except with less time and possession to Dallas.

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 3, 2016 at 4:19 PM

      He lost that game. The team did plenty to lose it before, but they also hung in until the end. That bonehead return killed the momentum. That was a perfect opportunity for a long drive to kill the clock. Instead he allowed Dallas to score, then “redeemed” himself when we scored way too quick and left just enough time on the clock for Dallas to score again, but not enough for us to answer. Don’t underestimate how much momentum shifts matter in this game. Like, his bonehead play against Greenbay. It all went downhill after that.

      But all that aside, and as talented as DJax is, he’s not a redzone threat in any way, shape, or form. You need size to regularly win in the redzone. And a lot of toughness if you’re smaller. Desean just isn’t built for it. Has nothing to do with his abilities.

  3. redskins12thman - Aug 3, 2016 at 6:19 AM

    I applaud the Redskins in all their efforts to emphasize not turning the ball over on offense and forcing turnovers on defense because it is one of the most important aspects of a successful season (along with technique, play calling, physical preparedness, mental preparedness, limiting penalties, knowing the opponent and health recovery). That said, we won’t know where the RBs are in terms of holding onto the ball until they face opponents; hopefully an average of no more than one fumble per 100 touches if not better.

    I am concerned about the number of penalties that are being reported. It’s fantastic that the Redskins are working with officials during the practice sessions; I hope that continues until the Redskins are no longer committing as many penalties. On offense, penalties just kill drives and on defense, it usually leads to worse field position and often leads to more points conceded. As you say Rich, the Redskins did much better in penalties last season and we need that trend to continue so we less frequently have that “momentum loss” in games.

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 3, 2016 at 4:22 PM

      I will lose my mind if we have a potent offense this year that constantly gets bogged down because of penalties. There’s nothing worse than knowing your team has what it takes only to see them lose because of self inflicted wounds.

      I would be curious to know if they’re doing anything to limit Reed’s holding penalties. Because that was downright ridiculous last year. That’s the kind of stuff that loses games.

  4. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Aug 3, 2016 at 7:55 AM

    Always a good thing for an RB.
    ~

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