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Jay Gruden: We drafted Matt Jones with intent of making him featured back

Shawn Lauvao, Matt Jones, James Laurinaitis AP

When Redskins president Bruce Allen was discussing impending free agent running back Alfred Morris‘ chances of returning to the team recently, he said they’ll see what happens in the event Morris doesn’t get a “great contract” from another team.

That position suggests the Redskins will be quite comfortable moving on without Morris in 2016 and that they feel Matt Jones can step forward in his second NFL season. Jones ran 144 times for 490 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie with his Week Three outing accounting for 123 of those yards and two of the touchdowns.

There were other bright moments for Jones, but they were mitigated by issues holding onto the ball (five fumbles) and a hip injury that required surgery. Coach Jay Gruden noted those issues Wednesday while saying that the team believes Jones can be a feature back.

“We drafted him with that intent,” Gruden said, via the Washington Post. “He’s a big, powerful runner. The big thing about Matt is, we’ve got to keep him healthy and work on ball security — those are the two things in the offseason. I know [running backs coach] Randy Jordan will harp on that, and getting his pad level down a little bit. But health, ball security, those are the two biggest things.”

Jones, who also averaged 16 yards per reception, will likely have company in the backfield beyond Chris Thompson next season but it seems unlikely the team will be breaking the bank to bring in any other running backs this offseason. That should help Jones’ chances of securing the job as long as he doesn’t continue to hurt himself by putting the ball on the ground.

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12 Responses to “Jay Gruden: We drafted Matt Jones with intent of making him featured back”
  1. joedskins1959 says: Feb 25, 2016 8:40 AM

    I thought Alfred looked good late in the season, hope he stays a Redskin. I will be rooting for him wherever he goes. Alfred Morris is a class act.

  2. key2heat says: Feb 25, 2016 8:40 AM

    If you’re ‘lead back’ has to work on ball security, you have more problems than not having a trademark.

  3. bettis3636 says: Feb 25, 2016 8:43 AM

    Morris got worst and worst… Hope he saved his money cuz his story was a great one for a few years.. But all good things must come to a end… NFL strikes again… (Not For Long)

  4. mightymightylafootball says: Feb 25, 2016 8:56 AM

    He passes the eye test, that’s for sure.

    He was clearly more effective than Morris last year. And this from a Morris fan.

  5. jrossizzle says: Feb 25, 2016 9:05 AM

    Josh Alper, You wrote the “R” word on PFT.
    You’re my hero.

  6. floratiotime says: Feb 25, 2016 9:06 AM

    Someone had to be declared NFC East winner … but that doesn’t make them a good team. Congrats on being the least awful.

  7. ReligionIsForIdiots says: Feb 25, 2016 9:09 AM

    “Featured back” is as dumb of a term as you can get.

  8. usahockey999 says: Feb 25, 2016 9:30 AM

    mightymightylafootball says:
    Feb 25, 2016 8:56 AM
    He passes the eye test, that’s for sure.

    He was clearly more effective than Morris last year. And this from a Morris fan.


    As a Morris fan as well, I agree that his time is likely up in DC after this season (barring a bargain basement contract)…but, from a rushing perspective, it’s a stretch to say Jones was clearly more effective.

    Morris: 202 attempts/751 yards (3.7 YPC), Long of 48, 1 TD, 0 Fumbles

    Jones: 144 attempts/490 yards (3.4 YPC), Long of 39, 3 TDs, 4 fumbles.

  9. thunderskins007 says: Feb 25, 2016 9:36 AM

    I will miss morris. Shanahan can draft RBs. The way it was going i was excited to see a redskin RB do work. At the pace it was going he would have been the best back skins ever had stat-wise. Instead we got gruden and i watch morris( a power back ) get stopped for no gain on those stupid sweeps gruden likes to run. Joe Gibbs would have killed for Morris. I will root for you always Alfred Morris. Best of luck.

  10. irvness21 says: Feb 25, 2016 12:01 PM

    As much as I hate typing these words, Alfred Morris would fit perfectly in the Patriots offense. Hate to see the good ones leave. I would take Morris over Jones 10 out of 10 times.

  11. mutohasaposse says: Feb 25, 2016 8:34 PM

    Jones is not fit to be a featured back unless he makes significant changes. His fumbling is awful and cost us games.

    He also runs vertical allowing anyone to hit him between the numbers clearly and make him land on his butt. Jones looks good because occasionally he’ll be the wrecking ball runner knocking people over but more often than not he is standing up straight and getting knocked down.

    The Skins did everything in their power to get Morris off the field and make it Jones’ job but he couldn’t handle the ball properly.

    As a Skins fan, letting him take the lead is a huge regression. Hoping the Skins get some real help in the draft at rb when Morris is shown the door.

  12. Thetruthis says: Mar 4, 2016 3:34 PM

    I did not know that Morris was a 6th round pick in 2012 and still made the pro his first two years. Gee, what changed after that?

    Morris is NOT the problem, Gruden does not know anything about a run game even though he keeps running his mouth that he does.

    Because of Grudens system, another one bites the dust.

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