Rookie running back Matt Jones had a hot start to the season, with 151 yard rushing in his first two games including a 39-yard run in Week 2 in which he displayed an impressive blend of speed and power.
But he hit his rookie wall early. Since those first two games he has averaged 30.8 yards rushing per game and has no more than 62 yards rushing in any one game.
It’s not like he has totally disappeared from the offense. He had a big game against the Saints, going 78 yards with a screen pass for a touchdown and caught two more passes for 29 and 24 yards. Against the Giants he rolled 45 yards with a screen pass to set up second-quarter touchdown.
But steadiness and consistency have eluded the rookie. Jay Gruden believes it’s a matter of concentration.
“Yeah, he’s got to hone in there, be more focused – the false start penalty and he almost missed a big blitz pickup that luckily Kirk got away to [Jamison] Crowder in the flat,” said Gruden. “He’s working hard. He’s a rookie, he’s going to make some mistakes. We have to limit those mistakes.”
To his credit, Jones has made progress in one area. In the first 10 games, he fumbled the ball four times and the opponents recovered all four of them. He has not fumbled in the last four games.
But Gruden went on, perhaps sending a message to Jones that there are alternatives on the roster if he can't clean up his game.
“Luckily for us we have three, four good backs now that are all playing pretty well. Chris Thompson could be healthy next week and obviously Pierre [Thomas] is learning and learning. Obviously Alfred [Morris] had a big game yesterday. I think for being a rookie I think he’s been a pretty good football player – smart, too. His mistakes haven’t been that often. He’s had a few, as everybody has, but I think he’s done OK."
With Morris likely to leave as a free agent after the season is over there could be a big opportunity for Jones. But he needs to reduce the errors his game if they are going to trust him with a major role.
NBC Sports Washington lost an important piece of its family this week when longtime Redskins reporter Rich Tandler died on Tuesday. He was 63.
Tandler joined NBC Sports Washington in 2011. He began his writing career in his 40s after working in restaurants and created his blog, Real Redskins, in 2004, which became the longest-running blog on the team. He also wrote three books on the Redskins and posted an estimated 2,300 consecutive “Need To Know” posts, becoming a must-read for Redskins fans as part of their morning routine.
“We’re devastated to learn of the loss of one of our most loved and valued media members, Rich Tandler of NBC Sports Washington,” Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder said in a statement. “His dedication to covering the Redskins over the past 14 years has made him an irreplaceable presence among our media corps, and he will be in our hearts. Our thoughts are with his family, our family at NBC Sports Washington, and the entire Redskins community. He will be truly missed.”
The team will hold a moment of silence for Tandler before its game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday and will keep his regular seat on press row empty. On Wednesday, Redskins quarterback Alex Smith offered his “thoughts and prayers to his family.”
“Rich’s kind and warm nature made him a good friend and an especially close colleague to many of us at NBC Sports Washington,” NBC Sports Washington General Manager Damon Phillips said in a statement. “His passion for his work and the Redskins was inspiring and made him a critical part of many of our successes over the past seven years. This is a very big loss for the sports community. Our thoughts are with his family and his many friends.”
Fans, Redskins players, fellow reporters, and friends of Tandler paid tribute to him on social media.
“Incredibly saddened by the sudden passing of NBCSW’s Rich Tandler. He was a great talent and an important voice in the DC sports community. Our thoughts are with his wife @MissSkeetersmom, his family and his family at @NBCSWashington,” Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis wrote on Twitter.
In a thriller in Foxboro, the Patriots handed Kansas City its first loss of the season.
It wasn't pretty but the Rams slipped past the Broncos to remain the lone unbeaten in the NFL.
Remember when the Lions beat New England on Sunday Night Football and folks were ready to bury the Patriots? Yeah... how did that 'hot take' work out?
Will the real Redskins please stand up? A win over the Panthers moved the Skins up three spots. Give the Redskins this, they are consistently unpredictable.
The Ravens are on the rise and Marcus Mariota is happy the Titans won't have to play Baltimore again.
So the Cowboys have an offense now? Or does Jacksonville not have an elite defense anymore?
And the Bears let Brock Osweiler throw for 380 yards. Yes. You read that correct. 380 yards.
How far will the Bears drop because of that dreadful defensive performance?