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.