As the Washington Redskins head into free agency after nearly clinching a playoff spot for the second-straight year, we will look at some of Washington’s key players and grade their 2016 performance.
Player: Matt Jones
Position: Running back
Contract status: $2.95 million/4 years, expires in 2019
Preseason buzz: With the departure of fan favorite Alfred Morris, Jones was expected to be a 1,000 yard rusher behind a promising offensive line and potent passing attack available to complement his own ability. Jones was suppose to be a factor in the passing game after multiple successful screen plays in his rookie campaign.
Ended 2016 like: Jones only played in the first seven games of the 2016 season. He dealt with soreness in his knee that caused pain when trying to cut, but by the end of the year he was a consistent healthy scratch because of his lack of contribution on special teams. Moreover, he fell behind on the depth chart of both Robert Kelley and Chris Thompson. Jones had 460 yards on 4.6 yards per attempt and three touchdowns.
Season high: Jones penultimate game of the season was his best as he recorded 16 carries for 135 yards and a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles in the midst of the Redskins four-game winning streak. Jones closed the game out with a whopping 57-yard scamper on third-and-7 to set Washington up in victory formation.
Season low: The following week against the Lions, Jones laid an egg. Besides gaining just 27 yards on 10 carries, Jones had a costly fumble that probably cost his team the game. Late in the first quarter, Washington was at Detroit's seven with first-and-goal. Jones had gotten to the two before he was stripped of the ball. Instead of a touchdown or even just a field goal on the drive, the Redskins left the red zone scoreless and later lost 20-17.
Not only did Jones not live up to his general manager's training camp prediction that he would be the biggest surprise of the season, but he did not even earn the right to play in the important games at the end of the season. Jones' fumble against the Lions arguably cost them the game, which if won would have meant Washington would be in the playoffs.
2017 expectations: Even though Kelley looked promising at times during his opportunity late in the season, it is much to early to give up on Jones. Let him prove his ability to protect the football and have an open competition for the top spot in the dog days of training camp. A tandem of Fat Rob and Jones could be a double dose that wears down defenses as a game goes on.
Follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.
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