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Redskins offseason questions: Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back?

Redskins offseason questions: Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

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Will Rob Kelly be the lead running back?  

Tandler: Right off the bat here, let me say I like a lot about how Kelley plays. My contribution to this post may come off as “anti” Kelley but it’s just to provide balance to the gushing praise of Kelley that will ensue in JP’s part below.

Kelley started the last nine games of the season, getting the job after Matt Jones took his opportunity and imploded. The undrafted free agent played well. If you project the numbers from his nine starts out over 16 games you get 268 carries for 1,068 yards with 11 touchdowns.

That’s fine, but is it a strong enough performance to hand him the job, similar to the way that Jones was handed the job in 2016? Gaining a thousand yards is a good season but 12 backs got there this year. Kelley’s 3.98 yards per carry average as a starter would have been 26th in the NFL among backs with enough carries to qualify.

Again, a good season but not good enough that a team that has deep playoff aspirations should give him the job with no competition. There should be a vigorous battle for the job this year. Jones will still be around and maybe he will pull a Trent Murphy and suddenly become productive in Year 3. We haven’t seen a whole lot of Mack Brown but I’ve seen enough to want to see more. With nine draft picks, it would not be surprising to see Scot McCloughan grab a running back somewhere along the line. I’m not sure if Keith Marshall, last year’s seventh-round pick, can stay healthy but if he can they should line him up and see what he can do.

May the best back win. If that’s Kelley, good for him.

Finlay: Tandler going full hater mode early. I like it. As listeners of #RedskinsTalk the Podcast know, Rich and I have disagreed on Fat Rob for months. Before a knee injury slowed him down late in the year, Kelley was averaging well over 4 YPC and showed good movement behind the line of scrimmage as well as in the hole and beyond. He flashed plenty to be the lead runner in 2017.

But enough from me. Here's what Jay Gruden said of Kelley after the season ended:

"He’s one of the guys that I’m sure will probably have a scope when he’s done at the end of the season. I think great, great year for him as far as a rookie coming in as a free agent, being thrown into the fire like he was and performing like he did. I think there’s a lot of improvement that’ll be made with Robert. He’s going to get stronger, even get in more better shape. He’s going to understand the 16-game season, what it entails, how demanding it is on his body. He’s going to get himself ready to go. But he’s shown great vision, great toughness in the hole, great ball security. I think that’s a good starting point."

Competition is good, let the backs fight it out in Richmond, but I think Kelley wins the job again assuming the same group of RBs comes back. After gainging 700 yards in just nine starts in 2016, a 1,000 yard season is certainly in play for 2017.

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

 

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Former Redskins QB Josh Johnson destroys Defenders in Week 3

Former Redskins QB Josh Johnson destroys Defenders in Week 3

Former Redskins quarterback Josh Johnson carved up the visiting DC Defenders for 278 yards and three touchdowns Sunday night in the Los Angeles Wildcats' commanding 39-9 victory.

The Wildcats obliterated Cardale Jones (13-of-26, 4 INT) and the Defenders, who fall to 2-1 on the season.

Johnson completed passes to eight different receivers, including William and Mary standout Tre McBride, who was traded from the Defenders to the Wildcats in the preseason.

McBride finished the night with five catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

Johnson played for the Redskins during the 2018 NFL season, suiting up for the final four games after the team lost both Alex Smith and Colt McCoy to season-ending injuries. Johnson led the Redskins to a 16-13 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars during Week 15, throwing for 151 yards and a touchdown.

Johnson was selected by the Wildcats in the XFL Supplemental Draft in Nov. 2019. 

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Former Redskins RB Matt Jones powers St. Louis BattleHawks past the New York Guardians

Former Redskins RB Matt Jones powers St. Louis BattleHawks past the New York Guardians

Former Redskins running back Matt Jones was a force on the ground Sunday afternoon for the BattleHawks in the team's 29-9 win against the Guardians.

Jones paved the way for the St. Louis win, rushing for 95 yards and a score on 15 carries.

Jones was drafted by the Redskins in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Florida.

He impressed the coaching staff during his first year in D.C. (794 all-purpose yards, 4 total TDs) but struggled to hold on to the ball, fumbling five times. 

Jones was named the starting running back in 2016 after the Redskins decided to let Alfred Morris leave in free agency.

In his second season, Jones missed nine games with a rash of injuries and eventually lost his starting spot to Rob Kelley. 

He was waived shortly before the start of the 2017 NFL season by the Redskins, and he has been on the move ever since.

Jones and the BattleHawks head to Audi Field for a matchup with the DC Defenders on Sunday, March 8.

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