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:
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:
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:
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.
—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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