Matt Jones getting drafted in the 3rd round of the 2015 NFL draft signaled an end to the solo reign of then fan favorite Alfred Morris. Jones and Morris were subjected to a time share. Morris struggled to get going all year while Matt Jones flashed and sometimes disappointed particularly with his turnovers. Now Alfred Morris is gone and Jones figures to be the man with the coaches poised to give him every opportunity to be a three down back.
Jones didn't show enough for some fans to feel confident in him being the main toting the rock but I'll aim to ease concerns about Jones and explain why he's poised to take over lead back duties for the Redskins and why he's going to have a breakout season in 2016.
Statistics, trends, and history are on Jones' side to infer a significant increase in production this year. I'll only focus on rushing in this article and not receiving. Let's look at some trends. Below is a list of notable running backs who improved or stayed close to matching their rushing production from year 1 to year 2:
248 yards rushing 1 TD (2014)
1056 yards rushing 11 TDs (2015)
1124 yards rushing 9 TDs (2014)
794 yards rushing 11 TDs (2015)
607 yards rushing 8 TDs (2014)
706 yards rushing 4 TDs (2015)
424 yards rushing 2 TDs (2014)
1066 yards rushing 6 TDs (2015)
528 yards rushing 2 TDs (2014)
698 yards rushing 2 TDs (2015)
860 yards rushing 8 TDs (2013)
1362 yards rushing 8 TDs (2014)
1178 yards rushing 11 TDs (2013)
1139 yards rushing 9 TDs (2014)
38 yards rushing 0 TDs (2013)
849 yards rushing 8 TDs (2014)
652 yards rushing 3 TDs (2013)
660 yards rushing 3 TDs (2014)
695 yards rushing 5 TDs (2013)
680 yards rushing 5 TDs (2014)
250 yards rushing 1 TD (2012)
709 yards rushing 2 TDs (2013)
1613 yards rushing 13 TDs (2012)
1275 yards rushing 7 TDs (2013)
441 yards rushing 1 TD (2011)
1263 yards rushing 12 TDs (2012)
474 yards rushing 5 TDs (2011)
604 yards rushing 5 TDs (2012)
21 yards rushing 0 TD (2011)
437 yards rushing 4 TDs (2012)
283 yards rushing 0 TDs (2010)
561 yards rushing 4 TDs (2011)
678 yards rushing 7 TDs (2010)
1091 yards rushing 6 TDs (2011)
Why Matt Jones Won't Have A Basic 600 Yard 4 TD Season
To get the easy one out of the way, there is no one behind him on the depth chart poised to take away significant carries. Chris Thompson will likely be used in 3rd and long duties for the most part, Mack Brown might not even make the roster, and 7th round rookie Keith Marshall shouldn't be in the position to get a sizable number of carries to begin with.
Secondly, the Redskins made it clear by not bringing in additional running backs in free agency or using a high draft pick on one that Jones is the man going forward as long as he can produce at a decent enough level.
Why Matt Jones Will Have An Epic 1100+ Yard 8+ TD Season
Jones has the skill set to stay on the field for all 3 downs. If given the chance, he has the ability to wear down the defense and can threaten running inside, outside, or catching out of the backfield.
Jones will be running behind an offensive line that needs to be improved, yet is still solid. I must have complained 70 times about the LG and center positions on the offensive line, and both guys (or in last year's case guys after the guys) stunk it up for a bit last season. Like most fans, I wanted the Great Wall of China in DC and didn't give much credibility to the theory that offensive lines, not unlike other aspects of a football team, need time to gel and create chemistry. Most know I am not fan of Kory Lichtenstiger, Shawn Lauvao, or even Spencer Long, but both guys had good moments last year and if the unit can stay healthy and consistent (add the tight end into the mix too!) Jones will be a huge beneficiary.
Fumbles! I Didn't Forget
Before some guy starts going off in the comments about Jones' "fumbling problem" or "tendency to fumble" or "butterfingers" or before they demand his benching before the season starts here are your top 10 NFL rushers (yards) and their fumbles last season.
Adrian Peterson - 6
Doug Martin - 4
Todd Gurley - 3
Darren McFadden - 3
Chris Ivory - 3
Latavius Murray - 3
Devonta Freeman - 2
Johnathan Stewart - 3
Frank Gore - 4
Deangelo Williams - 3
Jones has 5 fumbles last season which IS unacceptable when you have under 500 yards rushing but even if he matches his fumble total from last year with top 10 rushing production the fumbles suddenly become a bit more bearable.
Carries and job security are king when it comes to running back production. It's unlikely any back on the roster will challenge Jones for significant work. Matt Jones doubling his production is far from out of the question. If you took his stats from last year and doubled them he would have 288 carries 980 yards and 8 TDs. That isn't far off from a 1000 yard season, or eclipsing the more than 8 TDs mark right there. With consistency and discipline from the offensive line and from Jones himself (fumbles cough cough) he will be a top 10 rusher in 2016.