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Should the Redskins move on from Alfred Morris?

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Should the Redskins move on from Alfred Morris?

In less than a year, the Redskins completed a stunning turnaround, ascending from a laughingstock in 2014 to a division champion in 2015. But now comes the difficult part: taking that all-important next step and improving from a franchise that was fortunate to get into the playoffs to one that can do some damage once it gets there. And that work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.

In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the 25 biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

No. 2

Should Alfred Morris return to the Redskins in 2016?

Tandler: If you’re reading this you are well familiar with the Alfred Morris story—a sixth-round pick who broke the team rushing yards record as a rookie, made two Pro Bowl appearances, had good but declining production in his second and third seasons, and becoming a forgotten man at times in 2015. Now that he has completed his fourth season he is a free agent and he and the Redskins need to decide if he will come back.

Morris had some good moments this past season, with two games with over 100 yards rushing and a total of five with at least 75 yards on the ground. But there were far too many unproductive games; Morris mustered 30 yards or fewer in eight of the 16 regular season games.

Part of the issue was an offensive line that by Week 6 had four new blockers from 2014; three of them came into the season with very limited playing time. The other one was rookie Brandon Scherff. Another factor limiting Morris’ production was the coaches wanting to give rookie Matt Jones some carries.

But, make no mistake, a lot of Morris’ issues fall into the player’s lap. It seemed that he lost his ability to make the first tackler miss and when he did have running room he often approached the hole very tentatively.

Add it all up and it does not bode well for a Morris return in 2016. The team will look to Jones and another, more dynamic running back to carry the ball. Morris is much more comfortable running behind a dedicated zone blocking scheme (Washington mixed zone and power running in 2015) and he likely will look for a team that specializes in zone. A parting of ways seems to be inevitable and it’s probably best for both Morris and the Redskins.

El-Bashir: After the Redskins plummeted from 10-6 in 2012 to 3-13 in 2013, Redskins President Bruce Allen acknowledged that the front office had made a major miscalculation: it had retained too many players in the hopes of recapturing 2012’s glory instead of taking a hard, honest look at its personnel and making some shrewd upgrades.

They can’t afford to let that happen again.

Which brings me to Morris. He’s meant a lot to the Redskins for four years and, at 27, it’spossible he’s got several good years left. At the same time, it’s impossible to overlook the steep decline in his overall production. Stats, after all, are how running backs are measured in the NFL. And Morris’ numbers don’t paint a flattering picture. His yards per carry the past four seasons have gone like this: 4.8, 4.6, 4.1, 3.7. This year, Morris’ yards per attempt ranked last among qualified players (40th)—even after strong performances against the Bills (6.0 per) and Cowboys (5.3) in December.

Another telling stat is how Morris was used by Jay Gruden. Rookie Matt Jones played in 13 games and, in eight of those contests, logged more carries than Morris. And it’s not like Jones was some juggernaut; he averaged only 3.4 yards per carry and lost four fumbles.

As the offseason begins, the Redskins’ running back situation ranks as one of the team’s biggest concerns. And, to me, staying loyal to Morris in the face of his plummeting production would only compound the problem. In fact, it's possible Gruden and GM Scot McCloughan need to press the rest button at this position.

25 Questions series

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Miami tagged Jarvis Landry, but what does that mean for the Redskins?

Miami tagged Jarvis Landry, but what does that mean for the Redskins?

Everything in the NFL feels like a powder keg, but the reality of Tuesday's opening of the franchise and transition tag period will play out as much more of a slow burn.

Few teams ever actually make moves on the opening day of the tag period, though the Dolphins bucked that conventional wisdom and used the non-exclusive franchise designation on wide receiver Jarvis Landry. 

Astute Redskins fans know the tag system all too well. Landry can now sign a one-year, fully guaranteed contract with the Dolphins worth more than $16 million, the average of the top-five paid receivers in the NFL.

They can also trade Landry and the compensation discussion with a non-exclusive tag begins at two first-round draft picks, though it can eventually be settled for much less. 

RELATED: BEST AND WORST OF REDSKINS' FIRST-ROUND DRAFT HISTORY

What, if anything, does Miami's move mean for the Redskins? Let's take a look:

  1. Not gonna work here - Landry never really seemed like a great fit for the Redskins as a free agent, and that was before the franchise tag. He's a really good slot WR, but Washington already has that in Jamison Crowder. Whether or not Landry actually gets a deal done with the Dolphins or gets traded, it seems highly unlikely the Redskins are his next team. 
  2. "Spirit of the tag" - Miami putting the tag on Landry so early in the process signals that the team might be trying to trade him instead of actually trying to sign him. If that's the case, and plenty of people are suggesting just that, it would seem to be in contrast with the "spirit of the tag." The idea is that a franchise or transition tag is supposed to be used as a tool by an NFL franchise to get a long-term deal done with one of their own players facing free agency. Using the tag as a mechanism to pull of a trade seems very different. Why does any of this matter for Redskins fans? As reports emerged that Washington might look to use a tag on Kirk Cousins and work to trade him, the Cousins camp has made clear they would file a grievance against that technique. Why? Because it would violate the spirit of the tag. Well, it sure looks like Miami is doing the same thing, and as of now, nobody has complained. The situations aren't identical; few resemble the Redskins long, slow, awkward dance with Cousins. But it's certainly worth monitoring. 
  3. Wide Receiver$ - The Redskins could use a veteran wideout to help their young group of Crowder and Josh Doctson. Well, with Landry getting tagged, the price tag just went up. The player that seems to make the most sense in Washington would be Jaguars wideout Allen Robinson. Coming off a knee injury in 2017, some thought Robinson could be signed on a somewhat team-friendly deal. If Landry can get franchised after a season where he didn't even get to 1,000 yards receiving, any thought of a team-friendly deal for Robinson is dead. Make no mistake, Landry and Robinson are good players, but the ever-increasing NFL salary cap will make both young receivers very well paid. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Need to Know: The Redskins appear to be set at center

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Associated Press

Need to Know: The Redskins appear to be set at center

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 21, 21 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The Redskins appear to be set at center

Originally published 12/19/17

Chase Roullier might have been the Redskins’ fourth choice to play at center this year. But he could be snapping the ball for Washington for a long time.

Kory Lichtensteiger, the starter for the previous three years when healthy, retired. Veteran backup John Sullivan departed as a free agent. Spencer Long started six games this season before knee and quad problems pushed him to the sideline, elevating the rookie Roullier into the starting lineup.

The sixth-round pick started three games before breaking his right hand at some point during the game against the Saints. That’s his snapping hand and him finishing that game was an underrated act of courage this year. But he was out for three games before returning against the Cardinals on Sunday. Jay Gruden was pleased with his play. 

“Chase did good. He did good,” said Gruden. “It was good to see him back in there. His snaps were outstanding and handled the calls and play well.”

That was good but standard praise. What was interesting was what he said next.  

“I like Chase’s progress right now,” he said. “I think he is going to be a very good center for a long time here. It was a great pickup for us in the draft.”

It appears that you can at least pencil in Roullier as the 2018 starter at center, if not put him in with a Sharpie.

Where would this leave Long, who is slated to be a free agent in March? The Redskins could let him walk and go with the younger and cheaper Roullier. They also could sign him to be their starting left guard. That job has belonged to Shawn Lauvao. But Lauvao also is a pending free agent and he is 30 and he has missed large chunks of two of the last three seasons with injuries. When he missed the last 13 games of the 2015 season, Long went in at left guard and played well.

If that happens, that would give the Redskins a starting offensive line consisting entirely of players drafted by the team and with only Trent Williams over the age of 27 in Week 1 of 2018.

Regardless of what happens at left guard, it looks like Roullier will be the man in the middle for 2018 and beyond.

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

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 8
—NFL Draft (4/26) 64
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 200