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Need to Know: Should the Redskins stick with one back?

Need to Know: Should the Redskins stick with one back?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, October 15, three days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Jets.

Should the Redskins reconsider running back by committee?

There is a new line of conventional wisdom brewing out there among Redskins fans and some in the media. The problem with the Redskins’ rushing attack, says this new theory, is that they need to settle on one running back. Switching between Alfred Morris and Matt Jones is not permitting either one of them to get into a “rhythm”, and they are both supposedly “rhythm” backs.

According to this line of thinking, neither is in the game for long enough to be effective, to establish that rhythm. I asked Jay Gruden about this and he didn’t buy it.

“I don’t know. There probably is some validity to it, but there’s also some validity to keeping them fresh and having a package of plays for each back that we feel good about. There are certain things that Matt Jones does better than Alfred. There are certain things that Alfred does better than Matt Jones . . . We try to mix and match our system to the best personnel that we have at that time on that play call.”

The other reason not to abandon the multi-back rushing attack is that there really isn’t any evidence that either of them plays better with more carries.

In his 53 games with the Redskins, here are Morris’ average yards per carry by quarter:

First—4.2
Second—5.0
Third—4.7
Fourth—3.7

The number that jumps out at you is the fourth-quarter average. It is a half yard lower than his average in any other quarter and a full yard lower than his average in the third quarter. If he is a back who needs work to get into a “rhythm”, shouldn’t that average per carry go up as the game goes on?

You can’t attach much significance to Jones’ quarterly rushing splits because his five-game sample size is too small. But, for the record, here they are:

First—5.7
Second—4.0
Third—1.6
Fourth—4.3

I think we will have to say there is not enough evidence to prove or disprove the notion that Jones gets better with more carries.

Just because I was curious, I pulled up the numbers for the entire league. Here is the collective rushing average per quarter:

First—4.1
Second—4.1
Third—4.3
Fourth—3.9

Certainly there no general trend of backs getting stronger in the fourth quarter around the NFL. In fact, the average falls off a cliff between the third and fourth quarters.

It sounds nice to talk about rhythm and a running back will always tell you that he’d rather get more carries than fewer. But the numbers here don’t back up any assertion that more is better.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Joe Barry news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30.

Days until: Redskins @ Jets 3; Bucs @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Patriots 24

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Who is Nick Rose? Three things you should know about the new Redskins kicker

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Who is Nick Rose? Three things you should know about the new Redskins kicker

Here are three things you need to know about Nick Rose, who was signed on Tuesday to replace Dustin Hopkins.

1) His next NFL kick will be his first one

Rose has spent offseason time with the Falcons and 49ers since entering the league in 2016 after his collegiate career at Texas. However, he has never attempted a regular season field goal or PAT, so the first time he does so with the Redskins will be the first time ever for him as a pro.

The 23-year-old certainly has potential: He was one of the nation's top touchback producers in 2014 and 2015 for the Longhorns, so distance on kickoffs and field goals shouldn't be an issue (this video of him nailing one from 80, yes, 80, backs that up). What remains to be seen is whether he can split the uprights for Washington.

For what it's worth, Hopkins was totally inexperienced in the NFL when he first signed with the Burgundy and Gold, too.

MORE: UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS - 'SKINS IN TOP 10

2) He can make kicks in unconventional ways

While this doesn't come across as something Jay Gruden would ever want Rose to try in, say, this Monday's game in Philly, Rose can sink chip shots while simultaneously completing a backflip.

Ever seen Adam Vinatieri do that? Nope, didn't think so.

3) He beat out at least three other candidates for the job

With Hopkins likely done for the year with a hip issue, the Redskins worked out a handful of replacement options on Tuesday.

It was Rose, though, who emerged with a contract. He earned it over at least three other guys, including veterans Mike Nugent and Andrew Franks. Now he must bring that strong leg, as well as some accuracy, when called upon to ensure the 'Skins don't miss out on any points on a weekly basis.

Making kicks in the middle of backflips is fun, sure. But making them in front of national TV audiences instead of a YouTube audience is probably more fun. Let's see if Rose has what it takes to stick around.

RELATED: IN CROWDED NFC, WHY NOT THE REDSKINS?

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Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins headed to injured reserve, per sources

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Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins headed to injured reserve, per sources

Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins will likely not play again this year, a source with knowledge of the situation tells our JP Finlay.

The team placed Hopkins on the injured reserve list, which means he's out at least eight weeks. To replace him, the Redskins signed Nick Rose, per NFL Network.

In his third season with Washington, Hopkins had made nearly 82 percent of his field goals this year. He made 12 of 13 extra points, but missed a very important extra point in Sunday's win over the 49ers.

Hopkins had a very strong leg, capable of touchbacks on kickoffs nearly every time the situation called for it. 

Rose is yet to play in the NFL but spent time with the 49ers. He kicked collegiately at the University of Texas.

As a senior in Austin last year, Rose made 13 of 17 field goals and 38 of 39 extra points.