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Redskins position outlook: Running back

Redskins position outlook: Running back

Over the next few weeks, JP Finlay and Rich Tandler will grade each position group’s performance in 2016, break down the current personnel situation and evaluate the unit's outlook for 2017. We’re starting things off with a look at the running backs.

Running back

2016 starters: Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson (3rd down)

Backups: Matt Jones, Mack Brown, Keith Marshall (IR)

Free agents: Thompson, restricted

Rewind: Kelley took over as the starter for Jones after seven games. He started off well, averaging 107 yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry over his first three games as the starter. His production slowed considerably in the last six games, with an average of 47 yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry. Still, it was a very good, totally unexpected season for an undrafted rookie

On the other hand, Jones had a very disappointing season compared to the expectations that he carried into 2016. After Alfred Morris left via free agency Jones was anointed The Man. There was no serious competition for the starting running back job throughout the offseason and training camp. Things started off pretty well as he was starting to figure out where to run. Through the first six games, Jones averaged 4.9 yards per carry and he was on pace to gain over 1,100 yards on the season.

Related: #RedskinsTalk podcast: A new deal for Cousins?

But then came the game in Detroit. Late in the first quarter the Redskins had a first and goal at the seven. Jones took a handoff up the middle and after gaining five yards he was fighting for a couple more. The ball came out and the Lions recovered in the end zone. Jones carried five more times the rest of the game and he was inactive the remaining nine games of the season. We’ll examine that a bit more in the “fast forward” section.

For the first time in his career, Thompson remained healthy and played all 16 games. The third-year player posted over 700 yards from scrimmage split almost equally between rushing (356) and receiving (349). He did well pass blocking and he scored a clutch touchdown late in the game against the Eagles, a 20-yard run around left end to put the Redskins ahead in the last two minutes.

Brown was promoted from the practice squad after Jones was deactivated. His season highlight was a 61-yard touchdown run in Week 16 to run up the score against the Bears. There was some fan buzz about Marshall because of his speed but the health problems that plagued him at Georgia continued in the NFL.

Fast forward: In an age of running back by committee the Redskins took a different approach. Jones had nearly all the carries in the seven games he started and Kelley had the lion’s share of the work in the last nine games. Thompson got some work here and there but he had more than four rushing attempts in a game just four times.

It was just such change from Jones being the unquestioned starter for the offseason and for the first seven weeks of the regular season to Kelley being the unquestioned starter with Jones on the sideline in street clothes that it raises questions for 2017.

Is Kelley good enough to be the running back for the team that the Redskins aspire to be, one good enough to advance deep into the playoffs? His early performance would indicate that he is but he didn’t exactly have a strong finish.

More Redskins: Free agency to-do list

What do they do with Jones? He was a third-round pick just two years ago. You would think that would give him some security at least through 2017. But it appeared that there was something beyond just a key lost fumble that had him on the inactive list for the final nine games. Did he fail to respond to coaching? Was there another attitude-related issue that instantly pushed him from being the unquestioned starter to being a forgotten man?

Eventually we will find out but not until free agency in the draft. If the Redskins go after even a mid-level free agent halfback or a mid-round running back in the draft that player isn’t going to replace Kelley or take Thompson’s third-down role. It would mean that Jones could start thinking about life after the Redskins.

Thompson is almost certain to return. He could come back on the restricted free agent tender or maybe the Redskins will sign him to a relatively modest two-year deal

The wild card is Marshall. It took Thompson a few years to learn how to keep his body ready to play. Marshall may not have that long but if he stays on the field his speed will get him a look.

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

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The Redskins' free agency strategy nets more 2019 compensatory picks than expected


The Redskins' free agency strategy nets more 2019 compensatory picks than expected

It's a very small consolation, but on Friday, the Redskins finally picked up their compensatory third-round pick for losing Kirk Cousins in free agency last year.

That's not the only new selection they now have in their arsenal for the 2019 NFL Draft, though.

In addition to that third-rounder, Washington also netted a fifth-rounder, a sixth-rounder and a seventh-rounder, too. The four picks is a bit of a surprise, as most expected the Burgundy and Gold would be awarded with only three.

Bruce Allen has explained in the past how the 'Skins value compensatory picks, which teams receive based on the contracts their own free agents sign with new franchises. Last offseason, the Redskins saw Cousins, Ryan Grant, Spencer Long and Trent Murphy all cash in on the open market.

In total, Washington now has nine picks in the upcoming draft, with two each in the third, fifth and seventh rounds. They traded away their fourth-round spot for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Losing homegrown players like Cousins and Co. is certainly not ideal, but by letting those types of guys depart, the Redskins do set themselves up for more swings in April. 

That part of the strategy has paid off. The next step? Making those picks count. 


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Intense doesn't even begin to describe this video of Derrius Guice on the treadmill


Intense doesn't even begin to describe this video of Derrius Guice on the treadmill

For most humans, a workout on the treadmill consists of the following steps:

1) Get on with plans of running at a high speed for a long time. 

2) Realize three minutes in that you have no interest in running either at a high speed or for a long time because running on a treadmill is really one of the more awful things you can subject yourself to on this planet.

3) Get off.

On Friday, though, Derrius Guice shared something on Twitter that shows his attitude toward the treadmill is very different from most humans.


Judging by the speed and tilt of the machine, the Redskins' second-year RB turned every setting on that thing to its maximum number. Even the obnoxious overachievers at your gym don't have the courage to go above level 8.

Honestly, he's going so hard that you almost feel bad for the treadmill. Someone get that treadmill into an ice bath ASAP. 

Earlier this week, Guice provided an update on his comeback from a torn ACL, saying he's still "strong as an ox" and "getting it back." If this is what it looks like when he's "getting it back," what's it going to be like when he's fully gotten it back?