The Redskins’ running back situation is getting confusing

Alfred Morris was supposed to be the lead back of the Washington Redskins this year. Now, he's lucky if he's even on the field.
Cary Edmondson/Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Who do you think the lead back of the Washington Redskins is?

If you think it’s Alfred Morris, you’re kind of right, but also kind of wrong. If you think it’s Matt Jones, you would have been right during last night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, but you may not be right over the course of the remainder of the season. And if you think it’s Chris Thompson, well, who knows if you are right or wrong?

The Redskins have utilized those three backs all throughout the season in multiple different capacities. And it makes for a very confusing backfield, and not in a good way.

During Monday night’s game, Morris had six carries on the game. All of those carries came in the first quarter. That’s not a lot of carries for someone who is supposed to be your lead back. But Morris was barely even on the field at all. In fact, take a look at this chart the Washington Post’s Master Tesfatsion put together, showing the amount of offensive snaps each Redskins running back was on the field for.

This hasn’t been just a one-time thing. On the year, Morris has 141 carries for 494 yards. Jones? He has 116 carries for 400 yards. Neither one is particularly explosive, and neither has taken command of the starting role. Thompson, however, has provided the explosiveness, carrying the ball 28 times for 197 yards, good for a team-leading 7.0 yards per attempt average. But what’s one of the more shocking things of all? No one is even a goal line back. The only Redskins running back with a rushing touchdown? Matt Jones. He has all three of them. In fact, Kirk Cousins also has three rushing touchdowns, meaning Cousins has as many rushing touchdowns as his three running backs combined.

Washington Redskins Running Back Snap Counts Against Dallas Cowboys

Player Total Offensive Snaps Percent of Snaps
Alfred Morris 8 12%
Matt Jones 40 62% (also saw one snap on special teams)
Chris Thompson 17 26% (six snaps on special teams)

It’s just a little strange. Prior to this season, Morris had three straight years with at least 1,000 yards rushing. His lowest rushing touchdown total was just seven TDs. It appeared all throughout the pre-season that the Redskins would have a legitimate run attack, with Morris as the feature back chewing up the big yards, and Jones providing a change of pace for the offense. Thompson would fill in as a receiving back.

Thompson is living up to his expectations, if not exceeding them. Rookie Jones has looked good in spurts. But Morris is having a season to forget, and it might be due to the fact that he’s just not getting the ball all that much.

What’s interesting is that Morris becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season. He’s carrying a $1,572,775 cap hit this year. Should he even expect a large pay raise at this point? Probably not. And do the Redskins even need to re-sign him if they practically have a replacement in Jones already?

No one would have ever thought the running back situation would be this cloudy at this point in the season. And it’s not necessarily cloudy because of the utilization, it’s cloudy because no one is taking the reigns.