Redskins running back Matt Jones described his rookie season as just “okay” and said being sidelined against the Packers is going to haunt him this offseason.
“That hurt,” Jones said. “Not being out there on Sunday, seeing that crowd and the playoff atmosphere. All I could do was be our biggest cheerleader. That’s going to stick with me this whole offseason, having that feeling that I didn’t play in that playoff game. I want to get back, so I’m going to have a lot of work to do this offseason.”
Jones’ first priority in the coming weeks will be getting healthy. He missed the final two games of the regular season and the Redskins’ Wild Card playoff game due to a bruised hip that he aggravated a couple of times in practice while pushing—perhaps a little too hard—to return. As a result, Jones said he was only at about 80-percent on Sunday and might have been a detriment to the team if he attempted to play.
“I’m going to take two or three weeks off, [then] get some treatment in Philadelphia,” Jones said, referring to the hip specialist he plans to visit later this month. “I should be great after that.”
Prior to the injury, Jones’ first season could be best described as a mixed bag. He had big games (123 rushing yards vs. the Rams and 131 receiving yards vs. the Saints) and some quiet games (the third round pick was held under 30 yards rushing seven times). All told, Jones finished with 490 yards on 144 carries (3.4 per), 304 yards receiving and a combined four touchdowns in 13 games.
There were also some fumbles along the way. Five of them to be exact, including four that were scooped up by the opposing team.
“I felt my regular season went okay for a first season,” Jones said. “[The turnovers], I could have been better in some situations. But for the most part, I felt like I helped make some plays for the offense, just helping Kirk [Cousins] out, being an outlet for him and [in] the run game.”
Asked where he grew the most, Jones pointed to a few areas.
“Just getting downhill, man,” he said. “Sometimes in college I was inconsistent with getting downhill. But I think I kind of proved myself getting downhill and being more of a physical back. And definitely catching out of the backfield. That’s the biggest part of my game that I learned this year: being an outlet for Kirk. When everything was locked up downfield, I was an outlet he could check down to.”
The Redskins’ lineup at running back could look a lot different in 2016. Alfred Morris and Pierre Thomas are due to become unrestricted free agents and Chris Thompson is an exclusive rights free agent. Jones, meantime, has three years remaining on his rookie contract.
Did Jones show Coach Jay Gruden and GM Scot McCloughan enough? Or will the team consider other options? The next few months will be telling.
“I’m just worried about me, man,” Jones said. “I just want to be best I can be. When I’m come back, I’m going to work like I’m going to be the starter. But football is football and business is business. I’m just going to worry about myself.”