Redskins

Quick Links

Are the Redskins phasing out Alfred Morris?

morris-tackles-vs-nyg.png

Are the Redskins phasing out Alfred Morris?

Are the Redskins phasing out Alfred Morris?

One of the team’s best, most consistent players over the past few seasons has seen his carries go down from game to game this year. He had 25 rushing attempts in Week 1 against the Dolphins, 18 against the Rams the next week and just six on Thursday against the Giants.

Meanwhile, after getting just six carries in his Week 1 NFL debut, rookie Matt Jones has had more carries that Morris in each of the last two games. He had 19 against the Rams and 11 in New Jersey on Thursday.

So what about Morris’ workload, especially against New York?

“Well, the fourth quarter was the fourth quarter,” said Jay Gruden when asked about Morris. “Third quarter, we only had one drive in the third quarter. They held the ball for I think like eight minutes on their opening drive. So, he didn’t get many opportunities in the second half obviously because of the score. We didn’t have many offensive snaps there, and when we did, there was passing pretty much and that’s Chris Thompson’s role. First half, kind of the substitution pattern fell the way it did. You know, it was nothing against Alfred, it was just it was Matt Jones’ turn on a couple of those reps and we gave him some carries.  We intend on splitting the reps up pretty good. Alfred should be the lead dog though. It just didn’t work out that way.”

RELATED: Andre Roberts' drops are becoming a concern for Redskins

By the time the Redskins got the ball in the fourth quarter they were trailing 25-6. Third-down back Chris Thompson played most of the snaps. They ran just twice in the period so there was no opportunity to give the ball to Morris.

In that lone third quarter possession, Morris carried on the first two plays, gaining eight yards. Jones carried once for no gain later. The drive was moving along nicely into Giants territory but Kirk Cousins threw an interception to end it.

In the first half, though, when the game was relatively more competitive, the carries favored Jones. The Redskins’ first offensive snap came with an empty backfield but Jones was the first running back to take the field so you could say he started the game. The rookie had nine carries compared to four for Morris.

I think that this game could end up being an anomaly. Gruden used that “lead dog” phrase all offseason to talk about Morris’ role. But it also is easy to look at Jones’ talent, his rare combination of size, power, and speed, and think that Gruden has to find ways to get him on the field.

It’s also impossible to ignore the contract situations of each player. Morris is in the last year of his rookie contract and he will be looking for a healthy free agent deal in the spring of 2016. Jones is locked up at very low annual salaries through the 2018 season. Some conspiracy theorists out there think that the coaching staff will underutilize Morris this season so that the team can justify a lowball offer to him next spring.

But I don’t think the coaching staff is all that worried about the 2016 salary cap right now. If they don’t win at least half a dozen or more games this year, Gruden and company may not be around in 2016. During the course of the season they will deploy their assets at running back in the way that will they believe will win them games in 2015. That may end up being more snaps for Morris than for Jones or vice versa. The chips will fall wherever they fall.

MORE REDSKINS: 'This is who Cousins is'

Quick Links

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

usatsi_10418419_1.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 23, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins  and NBC Sports Washington.

Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense—NFL coaches and others like to tell you that competition determines who wins roster spots in the league. And that may be true to an extent. But many roster spots are predetermined by a player’s contract situation and/or draft status. It is unlikely that an undrafted player like Fish Smithson will win a roster spot over Troy Apke even if the former outperforms the latter in every way during training camp. Apke was a fourth-round pick and they aren’t going to give up on him in favor of an undrafted player. It would cost $3.2 million in dead cap to cut Stacy McGee and only $150,000 to move on from Ziggy Hood so McGee will win a “competition” that is even remotely close. (Offensive projection here)

Redskins will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor at training camp—While this is something that could add a little spice to the Jets’ visit to Richmond, don’t look for much of anything to happen. Zach Brown might give a little extra shove to Pryor here and there but he’s not going to do anything that will draw blood or even cause a deep bruise. If nothing else, a big hit on Pryor would invite retaliation by the Jets on Josh Doctson or Paul Richardson. And that might lead to more retaliation and you end up with a brawl like the Redskins and Texans had a couple of years ago.

Trent Williams very much of approves of Smith and Guice—Williams is going into his ninth NFL season and he has yet to be on the winning side of a playoff game. He thinks that Alex Smith and Derrius Guice can help change that. 

The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list—I normally greet this list with a big yawn and this year was no exception. But I do find the omission of Smith, who led the NFL in passer rating and was third in adjusted net yards per attempt, odd. In an update to this post, the NFL released the names of the top 10 players and Smith is not on it. He shouldn’t be, but he should be somewhere on the 100, perhaps in the middle of the pack. The only Redskins player to appear on the list was Trent Williams at No. 57.

The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger—It’s likely that nine players who are 25 or younger will line up as starters for the Redskins this year. I don’t have a rundown of how that compares to the rest of the league but it’s notable that in the last two years six of them have replaced players who were either approaching age 30 or over it. I’ll engage in some speculation here and say that five of the young players—Daron Payne, Derrius Guice, Preston Smith, Jonathan Allen, and Montae Nicholson—are good enough to potentially make a Pro Bowl at some point in their careers. 

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

Tandler on Twitter

Timeline 

Former Redskins defensive tackle Dave Butz was born on this date in 1950. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 33
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 70

The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 78 days. 

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Redskins schedule preview: Week 16 vs. Titans

Redskins schedule preview: Week 16 vs. Titans

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the game against the Titans. 

Week 16 December 22 or 23, Nissan Stadium (the date of the game will be determined no later than Week 8 in early November)

2017 Titans: 9-7, Second in AFC South, lost in the divisional round 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 8

Early line: Redskins +5.5

Key additions: CB Malcolm Butler, DT Bennie Logan, RB Dion Lewis

Key losses: DT Sylvester Williams, RB DeMarco Murray

Biggest questions: 

  • QB Marcus Mariota improved from his rookie year and had a solid 2016. But he regressed last season. In which direction is his career headed?
  • After head coach Mike Mularkey took the Titans to the second round of the playoffs he was summarily fired. Will they regret making to switch to Mike Vrabel?

Series history

The all-time series between the two teams is tied a 6-6; the teams split six games when the franchise was the Houston Oilers and they have gong 3-3 since the move to Tennessee. 

Series notables

The first time: October 10, 1971, RFK Stadium—The Redskins offense didn’t score a touchdown but that often didn’t matter when George Allen was the head coach as they still won 22-13. Washington’s scoring came on five Curt Knight field goals and on an 18-yard interception return by defensive end Ron McDole. That touchdown came on one of five takeaways by the Redskins defense. 

The last time: October 19, 2014, FedEx Field—Quarterback Kirk Cousins was struggling in the first half, losing a fumble and throwing a head-scratching interception. With the Redskins trailing the 2-4 Titans 10-6, Jay Gruden decided it was time for a change and Colt McCoy came in to play QB in the second half. 

Things clicked immediately as McCoy threw a short pass to Pierre Garçon, who turned upfield and rolled in for a 70-yard touchdown. It was back and forth in the second half and the Redskins were trailing 17-16 when they got the ball on their own 20 with 3:14 to play. McCoy led a 10-play drive that consumed all of the remaining time and culminated in a 22-yard Kai Forbath field goal to win it 19-17. 

The best time: November 3, 1991, RFK Stadium—To win nine straight NFL games to start out a season, you need solid blocking, accurate passing, hard-hitting tackling, inspired play calling, crisp execution and, as was the case today, a little bit of luck. Chip Lohmiller kicked a 41-yard field goal for Washington to give the Redskins a 16-13 overtime win over Houston. Darrell Green’s interception at the Houston 33 set up the kick. All of that, however, would not have happened if not for Oiler placekicker Ian Howfield. 

After Houston tied the game on a one-yard run by Lorenzo White with 1:42 left in the game, Brian Mitchell fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving the Oilers prime field position. Howfield came in for a 33-yard field goal attempt with one second left. It appeared that the winning streak would end at eight. “You don’t exactly give up, but you’re not far from it,” said Andre Collins. 

The snap was perfect as was the hold, but Howfield’s kick was wide right. 

On Houston’s second offensive play of overtime, Oiler quarterback Warren Moon got bumped as he threw an out pass and Green picked it off. Three Ernest Byner runs preceded Lohmiller’s game-ending kick. 

The worst time: October 30, 1988, Astrodome—Washington entered the contest riding a three-game winning streak and appeared to be rounding into form to defend their Super Bowl title. Warren Moon threw three touchdown passes to Drew Hill, however, and the Redskins took a 41-17 whipping that wasn’t even as close as the final score would indicate.

Redskins schedule series

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  and on Instagram @RichTandler