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Need to Know: When will it be time for the Redskins to panic about the running game?

Aug 16, 2016, 6:03 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, August 16, three days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Jets at FedEx Field.


Today’s schedule: Off day

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 219 days ago. It will be 27 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Final roster cut 18; Cowboys @ Redskins 33; Browns @ Redskins 47

—Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan was born on this date in 1988.

When will it be time to panic about the running game?

The Redskins entered training camp with an unsettled and, for many fans, unsettling situation at running back. They are departing with the same uncertainty.

Matt Jones is still the starter and he has said all of the right things and he has looked pretty good in practice. But it’s hard to tell much about his progress from last year, when he averaged 3.4 yards per carry, the lowest in the league among qualifying backs, when contact is very limited. And even though he didn’t fumble at all during training camp despite the defense constantly pawing at the ball there is not solid evidence that his fumbling problems of last year are a thing of the past.

Jones saw very light action in the Redskins’ preseason opener, gaining on yard on two carries, so there’s nothing to go on there.

Chris Thompson did well catching passes out of the backfield in Richmond and demonstrated his speed on a few runs around the outside. But several times Thompson indicated to reporters that he thinks he’s better off in his role as a third-down back and not working as Jones’ backup.

That leaves Robert Kelley, Keith Marshall, and Mack Brown to fight it out for the role as Jones’ backup. They have all had their moments. Marshall, a seventh-round draft pick this year, may have the inside track but he had minus-one yard in five carries in the preseason opener. Kelley led the team with 40 yards on the ground against Atlanta but 18 of those came on one run. Brown may have been the most consistent of the group, getting 28 yards on seven carries.

The problem with the running game might not be the ball carriers. There were not many openings for the running backs against the Falcons and it’s hard for the best of backs to gain much yardage without blocking.

“We’re going to keep working on it,” said head coach Jay Gruden. “We’re not going to panic in the first preseason game but we also understand that in these games you are who you are and what you put on tape. We’ve got to make sure that we continue to work on it and get better at it. That’s all you can do.”

Would it be panicking if they brought in a veteran running back, a player like Pierre Thomas who could work as Jones’ backup? There has been talk of that since it became apparent that Alfred Morris was on his way out as a free agent. If Jones doesn’t prove that he is worthy of the coaches’ trust and if nobody emerges to establish himself as a reliable backup it would be crazy not to make a move.

The running game issues are not new. After an offseason spent talking about being a power running team, the 2015 Redskins were 20th in the NFL in rushing yards and 30th in yards per carry. At some point, panic, or at least trying something different, is called for.

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  1. abanig - Aug 16, 2016 at 8:07 AM

    I think if the running game only averaged 3 yards per carry for the entire first month of the season then it’s time to worry.

    It’s really ypc that is the big deal, not their rushing totals.

    They actually ran the ball a fair amount last year and if they had just averaged .5 more yards per carry they would have rushed for 1,801 yards as a team and would have been 14th in the NFL in rushing.

    Do I believe that having Lauvao back and having Paul, Paulsen back along with the addition of Vernon Davis can get us a half a yard per carry this year and then we’ll be an average running team.

    • redskins12thman - Aug 16, 2016 at 10:20 AM

      The Redskins averaged 3.7 yards per carry last year, had one of the league’s worst YPC in 2015 and they are supposed to be improved this season. 3.0 YPC is too low a threshold.

      • bangkokben - Aug 16, 2016 at 11:17 AM

        According to ESPN’s stats and information in 8 of their final 12 games they averaged 2.47 YPC or less. That’s half a season. I would think that any Redskin fan would relish three yards a carry if the passing game was the same as last year and you were guaranteed three yards. The problem comes when your 15-yard runs are on 3rd and 19 because your previous holding penalties put you in first and 27. That and zero yards, one yard, zero yards, and fifteen yards. Wow, we average four yards a carry! But none of those yards produced a flippin’ first down.

        • redskins12thman - Aug 16, 2016 at 12:12 PM

          I’m hoping Redskins average 4.2 to 4.3 yards per carry. Anything less would be a disappointment. Just last week, Williams was confident that Redskins can have a top 5 rushing attack. With the Redskins passing game as strong as it is, there was no need for him to make such a statement unless he believed it can be achieved. You can’t just focus on the worst performances and hope the team averages below that; that’s too low a bar, especially for a playoff team.

        • bangkokben - Aug 16, 2016 at 11:01 PM

          “I’m hoping Redskins average 4.2 to 4.3 yards per carry. Anything less would be a disappointment.”
          I think you’re “fixin'” for disappointment.

          “Williams was confident that Redskins can have a top 5 rushing attack… there was no need for him to make such a statement unless he believed it can be achieved.”
          Athletes believe the most optimistic things this time of year. There’s no reason to accept their beliefs as reality.

          “You can’t just focus on the worst performances and hope the team averages below that…”
          Not sure what you’re trying to say here but in half of the team’s games last year the Redskins averaged 2.47 YPC — OR LESS! Of course I’d prefer 4.0 or greater but my goals are simple. I don’t really care what the average is. I want them to get one foot when they need that, one yard when they need that, and simply put the Redskins in good down and distance on 2nd down. 1st ant 18 or 2nd and 9 isn’t cutting it.

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 17, 2016 at 2:35 AM

          Ben nailed it. Yards per carry are important if you’re looking at them in context and as only part of the equation. But if, in reality, you average 2 yards on most of your runs but your YPC is inflated because of a few big runs (like say, Matt Jones vs. the Rams?) then it can be misleading. We need to average about 4 yards on most carries. That needs to be what’s normal. Not what mathematically becomes our average.

          @redskins 12th man. You really, really can’t listen to anything the players, coaches, or front office say this time of year. It’s all PR hype BS. Williams absolutely has a reason to say that even if he doesn’t mean it: it’s his job. Get on bleacher report and go look at every team’s feed. They all have players saying stuff like that. There’s a formula to offseason/pre season stories. One player (usually seems like a young guy) says “sky’s the limit for this team.” A veteran free agent acquisition comes in and says, “this unit (whichever he plays on) is the best I’ve ever been around.” The GM talks about how talented every draft pick is and how they’ll all be stars (and trust me, he knows that’s BS). The coach says they’re going to run, run, run the ball (seriously, go look, every coach says this every year). I could go on but I’ll stop.

          What is Williams supposed to say, “Honestly guys, this line kind of sucks. Everyone on it is garbage but me. And the RBs are like a virgin fumbling their pecker and trying to go into the wrong hole.” Yeah, that would go over well. And breaking news, professional athletes have egos. They all think they’re better than they really are. It’s kind of a requirement to play at this level.

        • redskins12thman - Aug 17, 2016 at 7:56 AM

          I don’t believe the Redskins will be a top five rushing offense; to achieve that, the Redskins would need to average 4.6 yards per carry.

          The lowest average yards per carry last season in the NFL was 3.5 and the Redskins averaged 3.7 and ranked last in rushing DVOA. The Redskins FO / coaching staff knew this was one of three critical areas to fix the entire off-season and so I do expect them to address it this off-season and improve somewhat this season? Yes. Would I expect the Redskins to average 2.5 to 3.5 yards per carry? Of course not, that’s silly as an expectation if some improvement were to ensue.

          An average of 4.2 or 4.3 would put them in the 10-16 range of NFL teams.

          At the same time, I never expect a player to say something they don’t believe in. There’s no reason to. I am buoyed by Scot’s work and expect players to aim high and exude confidence, but you can still do that and stick to making comments that one believes in. There’s a lot of room there before engaging in hyperbole and false claims.

          What was great about the Hogs is that opponents often knew exactly what running play the Redskins were going to do and still could not stop it. I’m not expecting that either from the 2016 Redskins.

      • abanig - Aug 16, 2016 at 6:16 PM

        No .3, not 3 yards, 1/3 of a yard. If they improve their rushing total by just .3 to .5 ypc meaning every time they run they just get a half a yard more then they could be a top 15 rushing offense in the NFL

  2. abanig - Aug 16, 2016 at 8:13 AM

    I don’t think it would be panicking if they brought in someone like Pierre Thomas. In fact unless Keith Marshall, Mack Brown or Robert Kelley really explode at some point the rest of this preseason I really expect Thomas to be signed either for week 1 or 2 and for one of the other running backs to be put on the practice squad.

  3. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Aug 16, 2016 at 8:29 AM

    It’s not panicking to bring in a guy who won’t cost much, but is reliable and knows the offense. I.e., Pierre Thomas.

    For now, it makes more sense to give all the young RBs chances to prove they can be the guy. if no one does, Pierre Thomas time.

    P.S. I don’t think his salary being guaranteed for the season or not makes a big deal about the timing, because it’s just not that much money.

    • bangkokben - Aug 16, 2016 at 9:07 AM

      If he’d take the same money before the season starts as after the season starts it wouldn’t be that big of a deal but reports suggest that his asking price is much higher if he has to be at training camp.

      • ET - Aug 16, 2016 at 5:41 PM

        I’m ok with that. Why go through camp if you’re reasonably healthy and reasonably familiar with the playbook? Thomas stepped in with no issues last season.

        The problem becomes (on the organization side)—what if all the quality veteran RBs are already taken? It seems like both camps have an entrenched strategy here, which is fine as long as there’s not a sudden run on the decent veterans. I’d rather the front office pay more to get a guy they like than sit around until the regular season and sift through the C-level retreads.

        • bangkokben - Aug 16, 2016 at 11:04 PM

          9/13 is Pierre Thomas signing day. He’s weighing his options to land in the best situation for him. Last year, he signed with San Fran. He lasted one game (four carries for 12 yards). I think he sees the Redskins as a good oportunity for himself and would be surprised if signs elsewhere for a small deal.

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 17, 2016 at 2:51 AM

          Dude. He only had 15 carries for 59 yards and 11 receptions for 84 yards. Including the playoffs. He didn’t step in with no issues. He barely stepped in at all.

          He was on the team for, I think, 5 games? How could he possible have a good grasp of the playbook and offense? Especially since the playbook changes every year? Obviously some stuff rolls over but they make changes. That’s what training camp is for. To implement the new play book.

          And if practice and camp are so unimportant then why do they do it? Why do they risk injury to these guys every year, leave their families, go stand in the hot sun, and do monotonous crap over and over if it’s not important? If veterans don’t need it then why not just have rookies go to camp? Why is Golston practicing if it’s not important for vets?

          This notion that a guy doesn’t need practice or to be in camp just because he’s been in the league a while is absurd. Especially when it’s a newish coach and team. Maybe he will be “ok” but he’s not going to be as good as he could be. And this team needs a RB who’s more than just ok. If Thomas is too lazy to participate in camp then find someone else. He’s not the only guy out there looking for a job.

  4. sidepull - Aug 16, 2016 at 8:40 AM

    I dont think its time to panic until they see how it goes playing the Steelers. OL and RB is a concern that they have I am sure but KC may make them look good like he did for a while last season. Dont get me wrong, I do not like the RB situation at all. Unproven. But the organization knows what they are going to do. They have a plan. Lets see them unveil it. I read somewhere, maybe here, that signing Pierre Thomas after the week 1 game was more adventageous financially to the Redskins than if they were to bring him in now. Maybe its a waiting game, they are communicating and all is ready to roll if these youngsters are not up to the task.

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 17, 2016 at 2:53 AM

      Don’t forget that our run game looked pretty damn good after week 1 last year.

      And can I just say it again: Pierre Thomas is not the only veteran free agent RB available. If he’s playing games then let’s go find someone who actually wants to be here and actually wants to play.

  5. winskins - Aug 16, 2016 at 8:45 AM

    Why so many comments about bringing in Pierre Thomas? What we should think about is a new left guard or a new center. I don’t think Thomas would make things any different.

    • bangkokben - Aug 16, 2016 at 9:05 AM

      A new left guard and center are pipe dreams for this season but have to be considered beyond this season if there are no improvements. Thomas averaged 4.7 yards per carry in the four games he was with the Redskins last season (11 carries in four games) and had nine receptions for 84 yards. He’s also a year older. The point is that in a very small sample he was an adequate back up to Matt Jones (filled in for him when he was injured with the toe).

      • chimps000 - Aug 16, 2016 at 12:05 PM

        chris Thompson is too small to be the regular backup RB- he knows this, the coaches know this. I agree he looked like the best RB on the team last year, but he also battled injuries all year- not like matt jones was real healthy either.

        the biggest questions this offseason was the non addressing of
        the two most obvious weaknesses on the team- running the ball and stopping the run. I think mcloughan didn’t want to reach for need, he wanted to acquire more
        quality players regardless of position, which is a good strategy.

        Hopefully our strengths can mask the weaknesses to an extent.

        • ET - Aug 16, 2016 at 5:50 PM

          In fairness, Scot did attempt to work on the DL, though at the bargain level (Hood, Reyes) instead of the premium level (Jackson, Harrison, Vernon). He seems to be targeting a “type” for the DL—faster, more versatile—rather than seeking out man mountains.

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 17, 2016 at 2:57 AM

          He acquired more a quality player by trading our fourth round pick? Interesting strategy for sure. So sneaky that I missed the quality player we got out of it.

          Don’t get me wrong, it was largely a good draft (based off what we currently know). But a 4th round DT or RB would be nice right about now.

  6. vtsquirm - Aug 16, 2016 at 8:49 AM

    yep, they are going to sign Pierre Thomas after the season starts. A veteran back is definitely needed. I’m sure they are just being frugal so as not to guaranty his salary for the entire season. They might keep Marshall on the active roster (especially if he can return kickoffs), but the other guys are fighting for PS spots.

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 17, 2016 at 2:58 AM

      There’s zero chance Marshall stays on the roster if they sign Thomas and both Jones and Thompson are healthy. Zero.

  7. redskins12thman - Aug 16, 2016 at 9:39 AM

    I am already nervous about the running attack because this key area of need was minimally addressed this off-season with the addition of TE Davis and end-of-draft / UCFAs competing for 3rd running back spot. I’m not that worried about the Redskins’ ability to identify RB prospects — Christine Michael, whom the Redskins acquired last November and released before the end of the year, is doing well with Seattle and so is Al Morris with Dallas — but many of us had hoped the team had identified players who could compete for center and left guard; besides Booth apparently, there were not prospects out there that were better than the players on the roster. If the RBs are performing well elsewhere, however, there’s an issue with blocking and line of scrimmage battle.

    Will rushing attack improve from woeful performance after Lichtensteiger and Lauvao were injured last season? We have to wait until September 12th to begin to find out. It’s so hard to tell how teams will perform based on the pre-season games; they can be really deceiving; after the Falcons’ game, you have to hope this is the case.

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 17, 2016 at 3:05 AM

      Kory wasn’t the problem against Atlanta. It’s not fair to make him the scapegoat. Nobody was really getting a push. Not our 5th overall pick, not Moses, not Long, and I honestly kind of forget how Ty did. I was focused more on the probable starters. Kory was getting to the second level and blocking linebackers: something he’s perfect for. But it doesn’t do any good if the RB never makes it to the second level because there’s no holes. Our blocking issues went beyond just the C and LG. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to suck all year. Maybe they all went out and got drunk the night before their first preseason game and were hungover? Who knows? They could come out and maul guys on Friday.

      • chimps000 - Aug 17, 2016 at 9:29 AM

        I agree that the run blocking issues went beyond the center left guard…

        is sherff playing at an average to below average level, is Moses a poor run blocker, is Callahans coaching overrated, are our backs that below average, or some other reason or
        combo of reasons?

        I’m curious how it looks after 4
        games… if it is as
        poor as last year, then we got real problems. I’m hoping the line shows improvement over last year, matt jones isn’t a bust AND he stays healthy.

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 17, 2016 at 2:25 PM

          I think it’s fair to start to question Callahan if the run doesn’t improve after a few games. The guy has a great track record, so he’s earned our patience, but these linemen have to improve.

          The annoying thing is that they DID improve in pass protection last year. Improved a lot. It’s just run blocking they suck at. No, Moses is not a good run blocker. Yes, Scherff probably is run blocking below average at this point. Yes, I think our RBs are far below average. And Yes, I think it’s a combo of all of that.

          But there’s a silver lining too. Our pro bowl LT and undisputed leader will be bac eventually. He will make a difference. Lauvao might just need a little more time to get back in the swing of things. And, while I thought Kory played well, he could need a little more time to improve too. They all could seeing as how they’ve only played 1 preseason game.

          Jones also has all the physical tools to be a great RB. And he showed glimpses of having the stuff between his ears too. Maybe he just needed to put on the pads and get hit for real before being ready. I also think the extreme focus on not fumbling is in his head. I think he stops thinking about yards and just clamps down on the ball the second contact is made. Hopefully that wears off and he just plays. But even if Jones never becomes a 2,000 yard back, he should be able to be adequate for a year or two. He should be able to hit the hole with that big body and get 3 yards just through force. It will be shocking to me if he ends up not even being serviceable.

  8. celticsforever - Aug 16, 2016 at 10:07 AM

    Barry Saunders could not run in this offence. So no “veteran back” is going to help. Using the ATL game as a measuring stick is pointless however (2 carries by Jones?). The best to hope for at this point is that the line can at least hold the point of attack (no penetration!!) and that a very effective passing game can loosen up the run game. Which is not ideal, Id much rather see them impose their will on the other team. But that is not going to happen. I have ZERO confidence that this team can effectively convert 4th & 1’s using smashmouth running. But it will be slightly improved this season now that the play won’t be simply given away by Tom “RUN” Compton and Jordan “PASS” Reed.

    • colorofmyskinz - Aug 16, 2016 at 9:21 PM

      Lol. Totally agreed. Last year was Tom “run” and “reed” pass. Simple to read by the D. Hope we fixed that.

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 17, 2016 at 3:09 AM

      Trust me guys. NFL defenses know when every team is going to run or pass most of the time. Every now and then they get caught off guard, but not usually. Really that mostly happens when the QB audibles from a run to pass and vice versa after the defense is set to defend what they know is coming. It’s not Compton or Reed’s fault. They just sucked at running the ball. It’s that simple.

  9. renhoekk2 - Aug 16, 2016 at 10:15 AM

    If Shanahan ignored the RB position the way McCloughan has, people would be calling for his head. They HANDED the starting job to a guy with the WORST YPC in the league AND has trouble holding on to the ball. He doesn’t gain much yardage and fumbles frequently and he had ZERO competition for his job in camp. Not a problem I guess. Question for the panel. How will the Redskins win games if Cousins gets injured for say 4 weeks. How? Is McCoy going to keep the passing game humming? Doubt it. Oh and there is no Plan B because they have no running game. Why, because the GM either didn’t think they needed it (WRONG) or he didn’t care (Criminal). Try and imagine for a moment if they did have a strong running game to go with their passing game. I would dare to say that is the difference between competing for the division title and competing for a Super Bowl.

    And anyone thinking Jones will suddenly “learn” how to be a better runner is mistaken. RBs coming into the league need to learn how to pass protect and run pass routes. If he doesn’t already KNOW how to to run the ball, he isn’t going to learn in the NFL. Go look at the top 10 RB last season and see what their YPC was in their rookie seasons. McFadden playing on a terrible OAK team avg 4.4ypc. Martin on a bad TB team avg 4.6. Ivory 5.2. Stewart 4.5. Peterson 5.6. I could go on and on. None of those guys played on good teams with great OL’s either. RBs either have it from day one or they don’t. Matt Jones doesn’t have it. So the time to panic was back in April before the draft.

    • chimps000 - Aug 16, 2016 at 12:20 PM

      I get your point… I thought jones looked like a bust last year, but obviously scott thinks the guy has real talent that just didn’t show on the field last year outside of the screen game- matt jones did flash some as a pass catcher.

      Bill Callahan got a ton of credit for that Dallas run game and oline 2 years ago- will he also get discredit for the poor run blocking of the oline, and the overall poor run game which he personally manages?

      btw, sherff is young, but the guy sure doesn’t flash like u would think a high first round draft
      pick should flash…

    • gasngo14 - Aug 16, 2016 at 4:26 PM

      Jones is a 3rd round draft pick, with technically 1 full season of work although he split time with multiple RBs. I recognize he struggled, but lets remember the skins Oline was not all that great last season. As for comparing his YPC to those guys rookie seasons , all of which are FIRST round draft picks except Ivory who played for a great Saints team with a good offensive line and great offense. Its like comparing apples to oranges. I think we need to calm down and give this guy a chance to develop and show us what hes got, its a little too early to give up on a middle round RB who played behind a mediocre at best offensive line while splitting carries with multiple backs throughout the season. As for McCloughan he has an outstanding record for evaluating talent. Lets just all RELAX and let the season play out and if by week 4 we have the worst rush offensive then go ahead and call for the guys head

      • Trey Gregory - Aug 17, 2016 at 3:14 AM

        Ivory had a good offensive line with the Saints? Are you sure about that?

        And this is only McCloughans 4th season as a GM. I really don’t think a lot of fans realize that. 2 in San Fran and then last year in Washington were his only full seasons as an actual GM. His track record is not as stellar as you might think. He had A LOT of help in Seattle. Including the current super bowl winning GM and coach who arrived the exact same year as him. It’s beyond well documented that they both had a lot to do with the personnel moves in Seattle. Especially since, you know, he wasn’t the GM.

        • gasngo14 - Aug 17, 2016 at 12:15 PM

          YES …I stand on my comment ” As for McCloughan he has an outstanding record for evaluating talent.”
          Just ask anyone in the NFL …And yes for the record its well documented!!

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 17, 2016 at 1:43 PM

          Well documented where? I would like to read this well documented praise where everyone in the NFL bowed to Scot McCloughan as king.

          The last two football books I read open talking about how Pete Carroll was the chief architect in Seattle. “Take your eye off the ball” and “the Art of smart football.” Written by two guys who know a hell of a lot about football. McCloughan wasn’t mentioned once. But, again, I see fans giving McCloughan credit for Seattle’s success all the time. He wasn’t the GM. He didn’t draft those players. He had a hand in it. He helped. But he’s 2/3 of that team short now. He was only only GM for 2 years in San Fran. Just two. Not enough time to build that team the way it was. He helped, but he can’t get all the credit.

          So my point is that the success of the previous teams he worked for is not necessarily indicative of how he’s going to do now. He, in fact, does NOT have a long track record as a GM. He’s entering his 4th season as one. It is not a mortal sin to question him. I think he’s a very talented evaluator. I’m really, really happy he’s our GM instead of Bruce Allen. And he knows infinitely more about football than I ever will. But he is capable of making an error. And we, with the benefit of hindsight, are capable of pointing that error out.

          McCloughan took a huge risk going into the season with Jones as the undisputed lead RB and the OLine exactly the same as last year. The only moves he made was a geriatric TE and a 7th round RB who did absolutely nothing in college. If it works, he will look brilliant. If it doesn’t, it’s on him and he shouldn’t just get a pass.

      • renhoekk2 - Aug 17, 2016 at 12:30 PM

        It doesn’t matter what round a guy was drafted. I can give you a list of mid round picks who performed well as rookies. The point is that if Jones was an UDFA and performed like he did last season, he would have had a bunch of competition for his job this summer. I like what McCloughan has done with the roster, but if Jones was not one of his draft picks he would be fighting for a roster spot right now. Not the presumptive starter. Maybe it isn’t Jones, maybe it is the OL. Nothing was done in the off season to fix that by the GM either. I think Scot is getting off too easy with the running game failures because fans are still in the honeymoon stage with him after last season. Not being able to run the football in the NFL is a huge problem that no one seems too upset about. Next season we may be with out Garcon or Jackson or both. They need to start being able to run the football at some point to compete in the playoffs.

        • bangkokben - Aug 17, 2016 at 3:20 PM

          Your spot on about the reason Jones has no competition. As for running the ball, it isn’t as important as it used to be. The best teams find a way to get yards on the ground but adding personnel isn’t the only way to solve a problem. In fact it seldom works right away. I have ZERO problem of time in the system being the solution this year. That’s a legit solution, one that fans seldom consider, and it isn’t a shirking of responsibility. If it doesn’t work, then you know you have a talent issue, a scheme issue, a coaching issue, or all three. Consistency is the hardest thing for young players to develop.

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 17, 2016 at 3:17 AM

      You know Ren, you have a really good point. I’m a McCloughan fan and all but people would be losing their minds if Shannahan went into the season with this current RB situation.

      Also not a bad point about RBs. But I leave a little more room for improvement. You’re right that the main think they have to learn is protection but there’s other RBs who struggled at first then got better. Justin Forsette immediately comes to mind. But I’m sure I can think of more if you’d like.

      • gasngo14 - Aug 17, 2016 at 12:13 PM

        Never has shanny ever beeen questioned on his running backs! Thats a really funny statement that doesent make a whole lot of sense!!

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 17, 2016 at 1:26 PM

          I think you missed the point. The point wasn’t to evaluate Shannahan’s past success with running backs. It was to show that if the previous GM (who was chased out of town) came in with this RB situation people would be calling for his head. But people are so infatuated with McCloughan that they’re not willing to criticize him even when he deserves it. We’re all well aware of Shannahan’s history with RBs and zone blocking scheme. That comment wasn’t about Shannahan, it was about McCloughan.

          If your point is to say that Shannahan would never enter a season with a run game like this…. exactly.

      • bangkokben - Aug 17, 2016 at 3:25 PM

        Shanahan did enter SEASONS with similar running back stables. Alfred Morris won the job as a 6th rounder in 2012 when local fans thought that they could get it done with a pair of 2nd year guys: Helu and Evan Royster. Is this situation that much different? The only way I see it differently is that folks were talking about this 6th round guy who looked good in camp and that he would make the team.

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 18, 2016 at 12:53 AM

          But people crushed Shannahan. It wasn’t “in Shannahan we trust.” It was “This guy is going to be the death of us.” That’s kind of my point. And Shannahan had a significantly longer and, super bowl winning, track record than McCloughan has.

          I feel like people were more optimistic about Helu and Royster. But that kind of depends on who you talked to back then. It’s all anecdotal. I’m not trying to bash McCloughan. Im a huge fan and I’m glad he’s out GM. I just think the love fest and fan legend of this guy has gotten a little out of control. We sit around here and analyze his moves because it’s entertaining. Not because I believe I know better or anything.

        • bangkokben - Aug 18, 2016 at 8:37 AM

          No. Not at all. The sentiment here was that if any thing Shanahan can do it’s find a running back. He got crushed for going with Grossman and Beck and staking his reputation on it but early on there was the sentiment that this guy could turn it around BUT he was the reason — especially for the defense — that they failed to make the playoffs in Denver.He got the benefit of the doubt until he lost it. McNabb trade, sitting McNabb and going with Grossman in a close 4th quarter game that became a blow-out, signing McNabb to an extension, getting blown out at home by Philly. Going 6-10 in first year. These things aren’t even comparable to the success McC had in his first year.

          With McC, we’re talking about drafting a guard in the first round, his wife ripping Diana Rusinni, allowing Griffin to be replaced, and some questionable mid-round decisions after the first winning season in three putrid years.

  10. bangkokben - Aug 16, 2016 at 10:18 AM

    The simple math of it is that Reed, Jackson, Garcon, and Cousins have to carry the offense. If the defense isn’t historically bad, then those men will be up for the task more often then not. Sure there are few tough teams on schedule where the odds are slim of having the passing attack and the defense without a running game execute victory but within the division let’s see if Dallas, NY, and Philly can defend the Redskins air assault.

    Cousins led the Redskins on three game winning drives last year. These are drives for the most part that are devoid of a running attack. Drives where the defense knows you have to throw the ball and where play-action isn’t an option. The Redskins can and will beat teams even if the running game isn’t fixed. The time to panic is if the passing game fails.

    • renhoekk2 - Aug 16, 2016 at 11:11 AM

      Imagine if they did fix the running game. And they should have been able to. That is what the off-season, free agency and the draft is for. Then they could compete with almost any team in the league. It showed last season against the top defensive teams what happens when you are one dimensional offensively. If teams are good enough to stop your running game with four players and can drop seven into coverage it’s going to be a struggle. The fact that there were some decent RBs sitting on the board and they chose to trade away that 4th rd pick still irritates me. Maybe they find a stud with that pick maybe they don’t, but Jones should have had serious competition for the starting job. He did nothing last season to just be handed the job. If the problem is the OL then they did nothing to fix that either. You are counting on two guys coming back from serious injuries, that’s the plan? Really? They supposedly have one of the best OL coaches in the NFL. Either he is overrated or they are not giving him the pieces he needs. One or the other.

      • bangkokben - Aug 16, 2016 at 11:23 AM

        I agree for the most part. I believe they felt the “fix” would be individual improvements across the board and I’m fine with that approach because the defense need more attention than the run game. I remember feeling the same way twenty years ago when the Redskins didn’t re-sign Terry Allen and handed the job to Stephen Davis. A little different circumstances but that was actually one of the wise things they did back then. But if Jones can’t get it done this year there will be competition next year at the very least.

        • renhoekk2 - Aug 16, 2016 at 1:25 PM

          They had resources in hand to make additional upgrades to try and fix it. They traded away a 4th and 5th rd pick in the draft. They talk about teams over valuing their own players and needing to “self scout”. There HAD to be at least one RB or OL available in the 4th or 5th round that could help improve the running game.

        • bangkokben - Aug 16, 2016 at 3:47 PM

          I would’ve been fine with a running back but there’s no need to raise the sirens about it. Here’s who the Redskins passed on in those two picks (minimal resources that netted a fourth and fifth for next year and Ioannidis):

          4* 134 Baltimore Ravens Kenneth Dixon RB Louisiana Tech C-USA
          4* 136 Denver Broncos Devontae Booker RB Utah Pac-12
          5 143 Oakland Raiders DeAndre Washington RB Texas Tech Big 12 from Dallas [R5 – 3]
          5 149 New York Giants Paul Perkins RB UCLA Pac-12
          5 150 Chicago Bears Jordan Howard RB Indiana Big Ten
          5 153 Philadelphia Eagles Wendell Smallwood RB West Virginia Big 12
          5 156 Buffalo Bills Jonathan Williams RB Arkansas SEC
          5* 171 Seattle Seahawks Alex Collins RB Arkansas SEC
          6 182 Baltimore Ravens Keenan Reynolds RB Navy The American

          The 2nd batch would’ve been instead of Ioannidis or any DL player.

          OL is such a premium position in today’s NFL that expecting an OL picked at 120 or later to start as a rookie on a team that had drafted 5 OL in the previous two drafts AND have two veterans starting ahead of three of them is like buying scratchers at the gas station. If that’s THE COMPLAINT, what are we complaining about?

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 17, 2016 at 3:27 AM

          Yeah but Ben also remember our run defense was terrible and there were a coulee defensive linemen taken right where we traded that pick. So they could have either had an extra d lineman plus Ioannidis, a RB plus Ioannidis, or a 4th round DLinemen and a 5th round RB. We have run issues on the other side of the ball as well. And I’m not convinced Ioannidis will do much to help. But we shall see.

          We don’t know how those RBs that you just listed are going to work out. But last year Jeremy Langford, Karlos Williams, and Jay Ajai were all 4th or 5th round picks. Just something to think about.

          We also could have had Tyler Lockett and Jeremy Langford instead of Matt Jones and Jamison Crowder if McCloughan didn’t trade around last year. So I don’t exactly buy the “McCloughan knows what he’s doing so obviously there wasn’t anyone there worth taking,” argument. Not that you were going to make it, but I’ve heard it from plenty of people.

        • bangkokben - Aug 17, 2016 at 3:00 PM

          McCloughan deserves the benefit of the doubt so far. Not every move he makes is golden and not every hit is a home run. Does he trade homers for hits? Sure. At least he doesn’t swing for the fence at balls three feet wide off the plate — metaphorically speaking. Also, I don’t believe Lockett’s or Langford’s success and talent automatically translate to the same success on any organization and that goes the same for 95% of NFL draftees every year.

          As you probably know, I’m a percentages guy. What is the % chance that Cousins is going to make more than $20M/year next year? I’d say that is at least 51%. What is the % chance that we Redskin fans that are concerned with the DL and running game would be less concerned about the running game and DL if we used the 120th and 158th picks on a scenario you mentioned instead of what we have (a 2017 4th from the Jets, a 2017 5th from the Saints, and Matt Ioannidis)? Maybe 18% of us would FEEL better about these issues but none of us would feel these issues were solved. Conversely, Some might feel the organization had lost faith in Jones, a 3rd round pick, after one season which ended in injury if the team used a 4th rounder on a back.

          It’s the minutia like these decisions that defined us in the past because of repeated failures that gave the organization no margin for error. Now, it’s different. There is margin for error and it gets wider with every good move made by the organization. That doesn’t mean we can’t feel passionate about the details and can’t present our side. Personally, I reconciled the fact that these issues would likely have to be addressed next year and that the team’s strengths could mask their weaknesses. Losing Junior Gallette will make masking the ‘skins run stopping ability a lot more challenging though.

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 18, 2016 at 1:09 AM

          Yeah I agree that the development of a large number of players greatly depends on the team that drafts them. It’s refreshing to hear other people say that.

          I bring up Lockett and Langford from time to time to illustrate to people that trading for more picks isn’t always this brilliant move. Pre draft redskins fans were in a frenzy about how our entire draft strategy should be to keep trading back because we have Scot Jesus Christ McCloughan making our picks and he could find JJ Watt in the 7th round. Oh btw, Washington could have had JJ Watt had they not traded back in the 2010 draft. But that wasn’t McCloughan so, water under the bridge.

          I watched a lot of Lockett in college and he was one of the best college rout runners I’ve ever laid eyes on. Great hands, good pedigree, and really good return guy. Last year was actually disappointing compared to how I thought he would hit the NFL. I feel very confident in saying he would succeed almost anywhere and he was probably close to BPA on everybody’s draft board. I think, with zero proof, that McCloughan probably traded that pick knowing the type of player he was passing on. But I didn’t watch Langford in college. So I can’t make that same statement about him. Just that a seemingly very talented RB, who we could have had, went after we selected Matt Jones.

          As far as McCloughan deserving the benefit of the doubt… I don’t know. As I said in another post, this is only his fourth season as a NFL GM. Sometimes I feel like we give him way too much credit for things other GMs did in San Fran and Seattle. As far as the % of a 4th round pick helping. Well, Crowder was our 4th round pick last year. And some pretty good RBs went in the 4th and 5th last year. And some pretty good Dline prospects (emphasis on prospects) were still around with that 4th round pick this year because of the deep class. This is all an over reaction until they fail after multiple games in the actual season. But fans are going to be keeping a close eye on it for sure.

        • bangkokben - Aug 18, 2016 at 8:42 AM

          I don’t care what McC did elsewhere. He gets the benefit of the doubt for what he did here. As you mention Crowder and others, you do realize you’re making my point — a small percentage. Let’s say it’s a 20% chance although that is ridiculously generous. It’s not significant enough to warrant outrage.

      • chimps000 - Aug 16, 2016 at 1:18 PM

        I think your argument has merit- i am always leery when it appears that a GM is doubling down on a draft pick that just didn’t work out for whatever reason- look at the Chiefs paying big money to their LT eric fisher, a guy not considered to be anywhere near the top of the league, but he was a number one overall pick and now he just received a big contract from the same GM who drafted him number one overall…

        obviously mcloughan has a good track record so I give him the benefit of doubt regarding not addressing the RB position this offseason- but matt jones better both stay healthy and produce on the ground.

  11. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Aug 16, 2016 at 11:13 AM

    The Jets needed an RB after putting Bernard Pierce on injured reserve.

    So they just picked up Antone Smith.

  12. cowboyhater - Aug 16, 2016 at 12:14 PM

    Jones stats were deceiving because a couple of his better runs came at the hands of penalties. That is what I’m worried about. A team that is not disciplined committing a bunch of penalties at the most inopportune time is what will kill the team. We saw it last year….one drive killing holding call after another. If we want to be an effective running team, we need to cut down on the mistakes on the offensive line.

  13. wncskinsfan - Aug 16, 2016 at 1:13 PM

    Yes, the O-line has not solidified for the run game yet, that is something that comes from reps (with pads). Now that training camp has been reduced to a soft parade, we’ll have to see what happens in the first month, September. That being said, I think that most position groups should have a veteran presence. I know Morris didn’t fit into the current running “scheme,” but for that matter, who is? The sample size from Marshall in Atlanta was not convincing. We will see again here soon. Thompson, limited due to durability, and doesn’t even want the job. I think it was a big mistake to just anoint Matt Jones the starter, seems he has no real competition. Never a good thing in the NFL. Hopefully one of these younger guys will step up, get those guys in with the firsts. let’s see what they’ve got. It would be nice to have a running back who can . . . run the ball. There seems to be too much emphasis on catching the ball. My prediction, week 3 of the reg season, PT is in, if somebody else doesn’t hire him first. HTTR.

    • sidepull - Aug 16, 2016 at 1:31 PM

      You know its not the fist time a Redskin has been handed a starting position unchallenged. It didnt work out too well then and it may not work out well now.

  14. hail74 - Aug 16, 2016 at 6:23 PM

    Could Jones use some true competition? Of course. However while people are quick to point out his YPC of 3.4 as a barometer of his success, consider that through the first two weeks when our line was healthy he rushed 25 times for 151 yards or just over 6YPC. Oh and Redskins great John Riggins career YPC was 3.9. 3.8 in his 9 seasons with Washington.

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 17, 2016 at 3:29 AM

      That’s a little bit of a different era. Just a little bit.

  15. Skulb - Aug 17, 2016 at 6:12 AM

    I have gone through the panic stage into apathy and resignation a long time ago. I am now reduced to nearly cheering for Jones if he gets half so much as half a yard on any of the first downs we throw into the toilet that is our alleged running game. At least it’s not a loss of yards. I am done trying to be positive about this every week as well. Right now, evidence suggests that we are by far the worst running team in the NFL. Exclude third downs with Thompson and Cousins running on PA last year and it’s not even close. Our alleged top two running backs last season ran for less than three yards per carry, and it looked EXACTLY THE SAME in PS1. This is apparently who we are; rather than some fictional Redskins team that by some miracle are able to run the ball. Clearly running the ball is not for us and the kool aid isn’t working anymore.

    • chimps000 - Aug 17, 2016 at 10:29 AM


      last year I thought we threw away a lot of downs and points by “staying balanced” and trying to run the football when we clearly were unable…

      Kirk was new and I think they wanted to protect him – maybe this year we take off the training wheels…

      • Skulb - Aug 18, 2016 at 5:05 AM

        Right. The only positive aspect of having Jones run for -2 yards on first down is that it apparently still helps them set up PA. Why a dysfunctional run game would do this is beyond me, but the numbers don’t lie. They were very good on PA in 2015. Archives

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