- The Washington Times - Monday, September 28, 2015

When the Washington Redskins want to get the offense going, it is usually a good idea to get running back Alfred Morris the ball.

It gets harder to do that when Morris is not on the field.

In Thursday’s 32-21 loss to the New York Giants, Morris played just 12 of the Redskins’ 77 offensive snaps. Fellow running back Matt Jones, who shredded the St. Louis Rams for 123 yards in Week 2, was on the field for 26 of the offensive snaps. He carried the ball 11 times compared to Morris’ six attempts.

Numbers like that would normally indicate that the Redskins and coach Jay Gruden are taking a step toward making Jones the lead back, but Thursday was an unusual circumstance.

The Redskins fell behind early and had to abandon the run game, logging just 20 rushing attempts. Kirk Cousins threw the ball 49 times.

Gruden has indicated that the Redskins plan to use Morris and Jones as complementing parts and will go with the fresher back, closing the book on the narrative that the rookie running back is nabbing the starting role from the veteran.

On Friday’s conference call with reporters, Gruden acknowledged getting Morris more involved this week against the Philadelphia Eagles.

“He’s a good player for us and it’s just unfortunate how it worked out, the number of plays that he played, but situationally it was a unique game unfortunately,” Gruden said. “We were playing a lot of catch up there. Catching balls out of the backfield and running routes is really not his forte. He’s more of a ‘In the I-formation, running outside zone, inside zone and all that stuff.’

“We just didn’t have that many opportunities to give him the ball unfortunately. It has to change in the coming weeks for us to have a chance. I look at the stats and see how many times we threw it and how many times we ran it. If I wasn’t there and I just saw the stats, I would’ve told you we lost. It’s important for us to have the balance and he’s got to be a big part of our football team. We didn’t do a very good job of getting him involved.”

That said, it will still be interesting to see how this plays out week-to-week.

With that, here are some more observations from Thursday’s snap counts.

** With the Redskins needing to pass the ball, third-down back Chris Thompson played a season-high 39 offensive snaps. He entered the game having played a total of 27. Thompson benefitted from the increased workload and caught eight passes for 57 yards and a touchdown. His 11 targets were second-most on the team behind Pierre Garcon (12).

** The Redskins are hardly using Darrel Young on offense. The veteran fullback played just four snaps against the Giants. Yes, the offense abandoned the run on Thursday but that does not seem to be what is limiting his playing time. Young played 19.8 percent of the team’s offensive snaps in 2014. This season he’s played 10 in Week 1 and seven in Week 2. Combined with the four on Thursday, Young has played just 9.2 percent of offensive snaps with the Redskins deferring to multiple-tight end sets when running the ball.

** Rookie wide receiver Jamison Crowder played 68 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, a huge increase after playing just under 10 percent of the snaps in the first two games. Crowder caught all six of his targets for 45 yards and Gruden said the Redskins plan to use him more frequently moving forward.

** When cornerback DeAngelo Hall was injured in the third quarter, the Redskins shifted slot corner Bashaud Breeland to the outside and went with Will Blackmon in nickel packages. Blackmon, who was Seattle’s primary nickel back before he was cut, played 30 snaps. He played just five against the Rams after signing with Washington the week before the game.

** Rookie outside linebacker Preston Smith’s playing time continued to increase as he played 28 snaps on defense. In Week 2, Smith played 33 percent of snaps and rotated with Trent Murphy, who played 67. Smith’s 28 snaps in Week 3 equated to 41 percent.

** Right tackle Morgan Moses is a tough dude. Despite sustaining a mild MCL sprain in his right knee and hyperextending his elbow, he never missed an offensive snap and played with braces on both injuries.

Here are the full snap counts with the total number played in parentheses.

Offense: LT Trent Williams (77/77), RT Morgan Moses (77/77), RG Brandon Scherff (77/77), C Kory Lichtensteiger (77/77), QB Kirk Cousins (77/77), WR Pierre Garcon (66/77), TE Jordan Reed (62/77), WR Andre Roberts (54/77), WR Jamison Crowder (52/77), RB Chris Thompson (39/77), LG Josh LeRibeus (37/77), LG Tom Compton (35/77), WR Ryan Grant (34/77), RB Matt Jones (26/77), TE Derek Carrier (25/77), RB Alfred Morris (12/77), WR Rashad Ross (8/77), LG Shawn Lauvao (5/77), FB Darrel Young (4/77), TE Anthony McCoy (3/77).

Defense: SS Trenton Robinson (68/68), FS Dashon Goldson (68/68), MLB Keenan Robinson (68/68), CB Chris Culliver (68/68), OLB Ryan Kerrigan (64/68), CB Bashaud Breeland (59/68), MLB Will Compton (57/68), DE Jason Hatcher (47/68), OLB Trent Murphy (44/68), CB DeAngelo Hall (36/68), NT Terrance Knighton (35/68), CB Will Blackmon (30/68), OLB Preston Smith (28/68), DE Chris Baker (26/68), DE Stephen Paea (22/68), DE Ricky Jean Francois (21/68), DE Kedric Golston (6/68), FS Kyshoen Jarret (1/68).

Special teams: Jeron Johnson (20/29), Young (18/29), Breeland (17/29), Jarrett (17/29), Terrance Plummer (17/29), Jackson Jeffcoat (14/29), Thompson (13/29), Carrier (12/29), Ross (12/29), T. Robinson (12/29), Goldson (12/29), Murphy (12/29), Smith (12/29), Golston (12/29), W. Compton (13/29), K. Robinson (9/29), Dustin Hopkins (8/29), Jean Francois (8/29), Paea (8/29), Grant (7/29), Jones (7/29), Tress Way (7/29), Nick Sundberg (6/29), Hatcher (6/29), Kerrigan (6/29), T. Compton (4/29), Crowder (4/29), Knighton (4/29), Ty Nsekhe (3/29), Scherff (3/29), Moses (3/29), Williams (3/29), LeRibeus (2/29).

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