Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden: Matt Jones is the No. 1 RB

Will the Redskins running attack be the weak link in an otherwise potent offense for a second straight year? Head coach Jay Gruden weighs in.

ASHBURN, Va. -- There is plenty of hype surrounding the Washington Redskins passing attack because of the weapons around quarterback Kirk Cousins. Some suggest DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed and Josh Doctson might be the league's best quartet.

When it comes to the Redskins running game, the number all are thinking about is one. As in will Matt Jones really be the number one running back now that Alfred Morris is gone? 

No matter how often those on the outside keep waiting for more help to arrive, coach Jay Gruden continues stating the second-year back is the man.

"Yeah, we have every intention of Matt being number one, and we’re excited about it", Gruden commented after Wednesday's organized team activities. "You know, he’s a big guy and I think he can handle it."

When general manager Scot McCloughan used a third round pick to select Jones last spring, it foreshadowed the end of Morris' tenure in DC. The two worked together in 2015 and at times successfully, especially early in the season, but the offense often stalled repeatedly without a consistent running game, the kind that spurred many of the franchise's most successful years. 

In theory, Jones has every-down back qualities: Size, speed, power, pass catching abilities. He also has two traits that lead to concerns: Injuries and fumble-itis.

That's perhaps why Gruden also stated the running game won't be all Jones all the time. 

"There will be other running backs you know worth mentioning", Gruden added. "We’re going to have three maybe four running backs up on game day and they’re going to get some reps."

Jones and scat back Chris Thompson, who remains sidelined following off-season left shoulder surgery, are the top candidates to be the Redskins one-two punch. Gruden noted Mack Brown and seventh-round pick Keith Marshall as potential complements.


During the OTA sessions, which extend over the next two weeks, Gruden cannot emphasize the physicality of the running game too much because of mandated league rules of non-physical OTAs. For now, Washington the focus is fundamentals.

It will not be until training camp when Gruden, offensive coordinator Sean McVay, and offensive line coach Bill Callahan can begin to harp on "coming off the ball, low pad level, and you know pushing people around", the head coach explained.

There is a chance that the Redskins could bring in a veteran back, like Pierre Thomas, to fill out the position, but for now they are planning on putting Jones in the best position to succeed. 

Follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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