Washington Redskins’ Running Backs Have Become A Strength
The Washington Redskins had some questions about their running backs heading into the season. They appear to be gone as the midseason point draws nearer.
At the beginning of the 2016 NFL season, one of the Washington Redskins’ biggest question marks on offense was their ability to run the ball. Now, it looks as if it may be one of their biggest strengths.
The Redskins came into this regular season with three running backs who all had played in the NFL for three seasons or less. None of them had stats that suggested that they could succeed in the league. It was unclear who would emerge as the starter or what role each back would play.
However, as the season has progressed all of that has changed. Now, the Redskins have a solid RB1 in Matt Jones. They also have a third down back who can catch passes out of the backfield with Chris Thompson. Then, they have Robert Kelley, who’s been fairly impressive in the past few games.
Jones has emerged as the Redskins’ go-to back. He has filled this role surprisingly well. Since Week 3, he has rushed for 375 yards and 2 touchdowns. He’s proven to be a strong back who will keep his legs moving and get extra yards after initial contact. He’s had two games with over 100 yards rushing this season, and he averages 4.6 yards per carry.
Jones has exceeded expectations this season and he could solidify himself as a solid starting running back in the league. However, one nagging problem has been showing itself recently: fumbles. In the past three weeks, Jones has put the ball on the ground three times, and twice it’s been recovered by the opposing team.
In Week 7 against the Detroit Lions, his fumbling caused him to be benched and lose carries. However, a decrease in touches isn’t the biggest problem for him. The real issue is how this problem decreases his confidence. For a young running back like Jones, confidence is a huge key to success. And after getting benched for dropping the ball, not only will he be lacking in confidence, but he will also be more worried about keeping the ball secure and less worried about getting as many yards as possible.
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If a problem like Jones’ fumbling happened early on in the season, the Redskins would have been in serious trouble. Instead, they now have two other capable running backs who can come in and get the job done.
Thompson has the most experience of all of Washington’s running backs with three years spent in the NFL. He also has emerged as an enormous threat out of the backfield. Thompson is a dual threat type of running back who thrives when he’s catching passes as well as taking handoffs. He alone has proven that he can pick up the slack when necessary.
For example, after Jones turned the ball over in Week 7 against the Lions, he was pulled out and didn’t see much of the field after that. This ended up not being a problem because Thompson stepped up big time and filled in well. During that Week 7 matchup, Thompson had 73 rushing yards and 40 receiving yards for a total of 113 yards from scrimmage. He helped the Redskins move the ball and had a significant impact on their offense.
Thompson isn’t the only one who’s shown his abilities when Jones isn’t playing.
Robert Kelley, who was signed by the Skins as an undrafted free agent, has been showing off his skills over the past two weeks. In Weeks 6 and 7 combined, Kelley rushed for 74 yards and caught a touchdown. These stats aren’t anything too spectacular, but when you consider the fact that Kelley did all this while only touching the ball 10 times, they become a little more incredible.
The fact of the matter is that the Washington Redskins now have three backs that are fairly reliable. They do not have the strongest running backs corps, but they do have a group of guys who have proven they can get the job done. They may not be the best backs in the game, but with more experience and opportunities, they could prove to be a formidable force in the league.
Next: Washington Redskins vs. Cincinnati Bengals Week 7 Preview