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Are the Redskins phasing out Alfred Morris?


Are the Redskins phasing out Alfred Morris?

Are the Redskins phasing out Alfred Morris?

One of the team’s best, most consistent players over the past few seasons has seen his carries go down from game to game this year. He had 25 rushing attempts in Week 1 against the Dolphins, 18 against the Rams the next week and just six on Thursday against the Giants.

Meanwhile, after getting just six carries in his Week 1 NFL debut, rookie Matt Jones has had more carries that Morris in each of the last two games. He had 19 against the Rams and 11 in New Jersey on Thursday.

So what about Morris’ workload, especially against New York?

“Well, the fourth quarter was the fourth quarter,” said Jay Gruden when asked about Morris. “Third quarter, we only had one drive in the third quarter. They held the ball for I think like eight minutes on their opening drive. So, he didn’t get many opportunities in the second half obviously because of the score. We didn’t have many offensive snaps there, and when we did, there was passing pretty much and that’s Chris Thompson’s role. First half, kind of the substitution pattern fell the way it did. You know, it was nothing against Alfred, it was just it was Matt Jones’ turn on a couple of those reps and we gave him some carries.  We intend on splitting the reps up pretty good. Alfred should be the lead dog though. It just didn’t work out that way.”

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By the time the Redskins got the ball in the fourth quarter they were trailing 25-6. Third-down back Chris Thompson played most of the snaps. They ran just twice in the period so there was no opportunity to give the ball to Morris.

In that lone third quarter possession, Morris carried on the first two plays, gaining eight yards. Jones carried once for no gain later. The drive was moving along nicely into Giants territory but Kirk Cousins threw an interception to end it.

In the first half, though, when the game was relatively more competitive, the carries favored Jones. The Redskins’ first offensive snap came with an empty backfield but Jones was the first running back to take the field so you could say he started the game. The rookie had nine carries compared to four for Morris.

I think that this game could end up being an anomaly. Gruden used that “lead dog” phrase all offseason to talk about Morris’ role. But it also is easy to look at Jones’ talent, his rare combination of size, power, and speed, and think that Gruden has to find ways to get him on the field.

It’s also impossible to ignore the contract situations of each player. Morris is in the last year of his rookie contract and he will be looking for a healthy free agent deal in the spring of 2016. Jones is locked up at very low annual salaries through the 2018 season. Some conspiracy theorists out there think that the coaching staff will underutilize Morris this season so that the team can justify a lowball offer to him next spring.

But I don’t think the coaching staff is all that worried about the 2016 salary cap right now. If they don’t win at least half a dozen or more games this year, Gruden and company may not be around in 2016. During the course of the season they will deploy their assets at running back in the way that will they believe will win them games in 2015. That may end up being more snaps for Morris than for Jones or vice versa. The chips will fall wherever they fall.

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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Key Redskins 2019 free agents

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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Key Redskins 2019 free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 18, 39 days before the NFL draft.  

Looking at next year’s free agents

There is still work that the Redskins can do in free agency and they still have some of their own players they want to retain. But with a lot of the player movement already in the books, we can take a look forward some of the key Redskin who currently are set to be free agents when the 2019 league year opens.

Note: I’m not including Brandon Scherff here because the team has a fifth-year option on him that they surely will activate before the May 2 deadline.

QB Colt McCoy (Week 1 age 32)—Lots of questions here. Will the Redskins want to keep him around for another year as Alex Smith’s backup? Or will they want a younger and cheaper backup? Will McCoy want to move on rather than back up another QB who doesn’t miss many games?

OL Ty Nsekhe (32)—The Redskins gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender this year so it’s possible that he could be gone or on a long-term contract in Washington. If he is a free agent, his value and the difficulty of retaining him could depend on if he ends the season as a reserve tackle (easy) or as a starting guard (hard).

OLB Preston Smith (25)—As we saw with Trent Murphy (three years, $21 million with up to $30 million), pass rushers get paid. Smith also makes big plays. Since Smith came into the NFL, he is the only player with at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Redskins can’t reach a deal on an extension with him this year the franchise tag is a distinct possibility.

WR Jamison Crowder (25)—This year the supply of quality receivers both as free agents and in the draft sent contract prices skyrocketing. To guard against that happening next year, the Redskin should start talking to Crowder about an extension soon.

ILB Zach Vigil (27)—As I noted here, Vigil went from being cut in September to a very valuable reserve in November. Both Zach Brown and Mason Foster will still be under contract, but the Redskin still should make an effort to retain Vigil for special teams and as a capable backup.

Other Redskins who are slated to be UFA’s next year are DL Ziggy Hood and ILB Martrell Spaight.

It’s also worth noting that WR Maurice Harris and DE Anthony Lanier will both be restricted free agents next year. Both positions were pricey in free agency this year, so both could require at least second-round tenders, which likely will increase to about $3 million in 2019.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Regarding the reported visit of defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins with the Redskins:


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 29
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 131
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 175

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Scandrick, Hankins both visiting with Redskins soon


Scandrick, Hankins both visiting with Redskins soon

The Redskins will be taking visits from two former NFC East foes in the next few days.

Former Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick will visit Redskins Park on Monday. Scandrick, 31, has been with Dallas since them made him a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft. He has eight career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

The Cowboys released Scandrick on Friday in a salary cap move. The Redskins would be attracted to Scandrick’s versatility. He can play either side at corner and, of particular interest to the Redskins, in the slot. That is a position of concern for Washington since they traded Kendall Fuller to the Chiefs as part of the deal for quarterback Alex Smith.

The Redskins have been trying to get former Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to sign for the past several days, but they can’t come together on money. Scandrick could be a fallback if they need one.

The other visitor will be former Giants defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins, per John Keim of ESPN. Hankins, 25, was a second-round draft pick and played his first four years in New York. Last year he moved on to the Colts as a free agent. They are changing their defense and decided to release Hankins after paying him $10 million last year.

Hankins could bolster a defensive line that still needs young talent. It’s not known if he would be considered a nose tackle in the Redskins’ scheme. The Giants ran a 4-3 defense and in the Colts’ 3-4 he was used as an end.

The Redskins had former Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson in for a visit earlier this week, but he decided to sign with the Packers.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.