But with Atlanta dropping seven into coverage, it reduced the chances of going downfield. One reason the Redskins need that run game to work better is to increase the number of eight-man fronts, putting the wideouts in better situations.
On one of Jones' carries, a run to the left, the blocking didn't help. Guard Spencer Long was knocked back just a little, but that wasn't the major issue. Rather, Niles Paul, lined up as a fullback, lost his block against the linebacker, who then shed him to make the tackle. But even if Paul had made his block, no one got to middle linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (center Kory Lichtensteiger was chasing him) and he was there to help. Paul was bent too far over upon contact, so he arrived with no power - I think there's some rust to his game after not playing for an entire year. He lost a block on another run, too.
As for whether or not the Redskins will need him, my prediction would be yes, they would. That's not based only Thursday, but on the fact that Washington really could use an experienced guy. Keith Marshall's speed really intrigues the Redskins, but he'll have to learn to run a little more patiently, with better vision, and not try to bounce it outside. I think it'll take him a little longer to be a guy you could rely on full-time. With Matt Jones here, Marshall doesn't have to be a full-time guy, but if something happens to Jones then he might.
Although Cousins is way too smart to negotiate in public or say anything that would potentially anger owner Daniel Snyder -- "I'm not lying awake at night. I got a pretty good raise," Cousins said -- he often has said he wants to be where he's wanted. The only reason Cousins is with the Redskins is because Shanahan and his son, Kyle, who spent four seasons as the team's offensive playcaller, pushed to draft him in the fourth round in 2012 after Snyder and team president Bruce Allen traded four high-round picks for the right to take quarterback Robert Griffin III second overall.
Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton signed similar deals in San Francisco and Cincinnati, respectively, where their teams could release the players without accruing a significant salary cap penalty. While that may be what NFL teams want, obviously, players certainly won't.