There may be no Redskin who is under more pressure this year than second-year running back Matt Jones. Last year, he shared carries with Alfred Morris and averaged just 3.4 yards per carry, the lowest average of any back who had enough attempts to qualify. This year Morris is gone and the team is counting on Jones to carry the load. Morris rushed for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons with the Redskins. Will Jones hit that mark in 2016? Tandler and Tarik make their predictions.
Tandler: The first thing we should establish here is that a thousand yards rushing isn’t a very high bar to clear. If a back averages 62.5 yards per game over 16 games he has 1,000. Jones could carry 18 times a game at last year’s paltry average per attempt and get to a thousand.
Back to the matter at hand, it looks like Jones will be the guy toting the rock for the Redskins. Morris left as a free agent and they didn’t sign a veteran back. They drafted Keith Marshall in the seventh round and at this point he appears to be a project, not a realistic second option. If they are going to run the ball it’s going to be Jones doing it.
So will he average 62.5 yards per game and get to 1,000. If he plays at least 14 games he will be able to get there if he can bump up his average per carry about half a yard or so. Unless he has some injury issues he should be able to do it. True
El-Bashir: While I totally agree that rushing for 1,000 yards isn’t “a very high bar to clear,” I think it’s important to point out that it doesn’t happen a lot. At least, not anymore.
In fact, only seven running backs last season surpassed the 1,000-yard plateau—the fewest since 1991. Of those seven, four finished with less than 1,100 yards and only one (Adrian Peterson) played on a playoff team.
These days, the NFL is passing league, a fact that cannot be disputed. Teams are implementing backfields where the workload is split, much like the Redskins did last season with Alfred Morris and Jones (202 and 144 carries, respectively). And let’s face it: if last year was any indication, it’s also becoming increasingly difficult for bell cow running backs to endure the rigors of a 16-game schedule. In addition, the Redskins’ 2016 roster, with DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed and Josh Doctson, indicates to me that Jay Gruden and Co. intend to toss the ball around a bit more than they did a year ago.
So, if Jones stays healthy—and that’s a big ‘if’ given his track record—I think he’s got a diverse enough skillset to make a positive impact. But with the way the league is trending the and the 2016 Redskins are built, I suspect he’ll ultimately fall short of 1,000 yards on the ground. False