The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.
Redskins running backs this week
With Rob Kelley on IR, and Mack Brown on the Vikings team, the Redskins started the week with only two healthy running backs before signing Byron Marshall from the Philly practice squad on Tuesday.
Listed at 5-9, 201 pounds, Byron Marshall is built well but also moves well. Oregon product. 1st player in Pac-12 history to record both a 1,000 rushing yard season & a 1,000 receiving yard season during his career.https://t.co/YU8HXla0DQ— Master Tesfatsion (@MasterTes) November 14, 2017
I went to Bleeding Green Nation for some insight into our newest running back.
Byron Marshall can be a versatile weapon for the Eagles' offense
20 March 2016
The Philadelphia Eagles signed undrafted rookie free agent Byron Marshall shortly after the 2016 NFL Draft. Marshall was one of the Eagles' most intriguing signings due to his play-making ability. In order to learn more about the new Eagles rookie, I reached out to SB Nation's Oregon Ducks blog: Addicted To Quack. Alex Rider (@AJR_425) was kind enough to answer questions about Marshall.
1) What are his strengths?
"The pure versatility has to be Marshall's biggest strong suit. Not very often do you see a 1,000 rusher transform themselves in an off season into a 1,000 receiver. He's a very unselfish player who was willing to put the team needs first over his own. Obviously this paid off as often during the championship game run, he was Marcus Mariota's go to guy.
As a receiver, Marshall has very good hands and a solid ability to make grabs with body control. As a runner he is able to use his size to shift through gaps and break in the next level. I really like him in the screen game and think that he can do a good job filling in that role."
2) What are his weaknesses?
"Injury was a question mark coming in to the draft and it's likely that it played a role in him not getting drafted. Marshall ended last year with a season ending ankle injury mid way through the year, and although he is fully healed that ankle has yet to see game action.
My next biggest concern is what position he fits in at the NFL level. College teams like Oregon love having a versatile guy, but we don't see that quite as much in the NFL. I'm not sure that he's necessarily strong enough to take a beating as a full time NFL running back, and also not sure that he's fast enough to play in the slot in the NFL, although I think his pro day 40 times of 4.56 and 4.58 seconds were solid."
3) Are you surprised he went undrafted?
"I was surprised that he went undrafted, as I had him with the highest grade for an Oregon player not named DeForest Buckner. I think the undrafted aspect clearly speaks to two things. 1) NFL teams being unsure of how to use talents like Marshall, in the past we've seen guys like Kenjon Barner, LaMike James and even De'Anthony Thomas struggle finding a niche in the league. 2) Injuries must have been more of a concern than believed. This problem was the case for three Oregon players as Marshall, Bralon Addison, and Tyler Johnstone all had leg injuries during their Ducks career and were not drafted."
4) The Eagles are listing Marshall as a RB. Do you think he’s better as a RB or a WR? Or do the Eagles need to find a way to use him at both spots?
"I'd have to go with running back. I certainly think it's worth while to find the guy reps every once in a while as a slot receiver but I see Marshall's fit being a third down running back. He's solid in the screen game and good on third down runs like draws. Although not a great punt returner, Marshall is very solid both returning kickoffs as well as being the lead blocker for the kick returner. I look for Marshall to play a lot in the kick return and third down packages in the immediate future."
For more on Marshall, check out Alex Rider's draft capsule over at ATQ.
I like a Darren Sproles / De’Anthony Thomas type comparison for Marshall. He doesn’t necessarily have the top level speed as those two but has many of the same traits. Thomas made the similar transition as Marshall moving from a more running back position to a full time wide receiver position.
Marshall was promoted to the Eagles 53-man roster in December 2016 when Wendell Smallwood was injured.
Marshall appears to be a Smallwood / Darren Sproles / Chris Thompson type running back who has also played wide receiver. Listed on Redskins.com at 5’9” and 201 pounds, Smallwood is sturdy, with decent speed and a low center of gravity. Jay Gruden thinks he’s a bit heavier than the webmaster:
“Yeah, we did some work on him. Our scouts did a good job on him and sent the tape to [Running Backs Coach] Randy [Jordan] and made the decision that he was our top guy. He does a little bit of everything. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, he’s thick, he’s 215, 220 pounds. He played running back in college, played receiver in college, did some good things on tape in Philadelphia in the preseason, so that’s the guy we went with.”
Jay Gruden should be happier than a pig in shit to have another running back who has receiving skills — especially one possessed of a bit of speed.
Chris Thompson has had a wonderful year. Here’s the latest game report on CT from James Dorsett:
Chris Thompson (Playing Time)- CT led all Skins’ runners with 45 snaps and played on 60% or more of the snaps for the third time this year. Thompson has been in on the majority of the offensive snaps in 11 of the team’s last 19 games. Just in case you hadn’t already figured it out, I will tell you that he is the Redskins’ RB1.
Chris Thompson (Rushing)- Thompson took his 9 runs for 26 yards and a team-best 3 first downs on the ground.
His 9 rushes in the game represent his second highest total of the season; however, his 2.89 YPC was his third lowest average of the year.
Thompson gained 6 or more yards on a third of his rushes, but also lost yardage on two of them. He was stuffed for no gain and a loss of 4 yards on crucial 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1 plays late in the fourth quarter.
Chris Thompson (Receiving)- CT caught 3 of his 7 targets for 41 yards and 2 first downs. His biggest play of the game was a 27-yard catch down the sideline on a 4th-and-2 play in the first quarter.
His 81.6 PFF grade ranked 3rd on the offense.
Thompson still leads the team in receptions, receiving yards, rushing yards, first downs, yards from scrimmage and touchdowns.
While CT has provided the bulk of the offensive output, and Byron Marshall may provide some backup to the running backs on the roster, with Kelley & Mack gone, the burden of being a 2-down & short yardage back falls on the very strong shoulders of rookie running back Samaje Perine.
It’s Perine time!
If the Redskins are going to make a successful run at the playoffs, they will have to win 6 or 7 of the remaining games on the schedule. To do that, they will need Perine to raise the running game to a level it has really only reached once all season. The Redskins have to have a successful 1st & 2nd down running attack to win consistently and to put teams away once Washington gets a solid lead.
Perine, from all accounts, is the type of back who needs a lot of carries, and gets stronger as the game progresses. It looks like the situation is finally right for him to get the opportunity to be that kind of back.
What did James Dorsett have to say about Perine following the Vikings game?
Samaje Perine took his 9 rushes for 35 yards and 2 first downs. His 3.89 YPC average was a career high for a game in which he had over 6 runs. He posted a success rate of 56%, gained 5 or more yards on a third of his runs and didn’t lose yardage on any of them.
Perine caught his only target for a gain of 25 yards, the longest play of his career. The 25 receiving yards was also a career high for him.
With Kelley out for the foreseeable future, Perine will get all the opportunities he can handle.
Jay Gruden comments
On RB Samaje Perine’s improvements:
“Well, I think he’s getting better looks. The more you see in practice and the more you get in a game, the better you’re going to get. He’s a guy that never ran out of the I-formation in college, so this is all new to him. He’s good out of the shotgun, but we’ve just got to keep giving him the ball. Like I said the other day, I think he’s a guy that’ll get better with more carries. He’s such a physical guy that I think the more carries he gets, he’ll wear down a defense. He’s not so much a spell guy, he’s more of a ‘run it, run it, run it,’ type guy. Hopefully we get him some reps, get a great look at him, and he performs well, which we think he will.”
On Perine’s ball security:
“He’s had two missed hand-offs. I think the exchanges are the issue, the tracks. Not necessarily all his fault, sometimes the quarterback might’ve been a little bit too tight. But we’ve got to get that cleaned up. Time will tell on that but I think we’ve got it fixed, hopefully.”
Kirk Cousins comments
On the progression he’s seen from RB Samaje Perine:
“I think confidence is always going to be a big trait as you play longer in this league and he’s become a more confident player as he’s gone through different experiences. I think he’s always run the ball really hard and I think he does a great job with that – I told him so after the game against the Vikings.
Catching the football, he’s going to get more and more opportunities to do that and gain more experience. He had a great play down the right sideline against the Vikings on Sunday. So just continue to give him those opportunities, those experiences, and I think the pass game is really the growth that a running back needs to take when he first shows up in the NFL because of how many pressures are being thrown at them and how much responsibility we place on a running back in pass protection, and those are the places where he can grow and will grow.
He has all of the tools, all the hardware, to be able to do that and become a really complete back in this league.”
On if exchanges with Perine will improve now that he is getting first-team reps:
“I would think that that will get better as we work together longer, that he’ll get a better feel for how each exchange looks and I’ll get a better feel for what he needs. Those are certainly the kind of errors that can quickly change the course of a game and so they need to be avoided at all costs.”
Who will be the leading rusher for the Redskins on Sunday against the Saints?
This poll is closed
How many touchdowns will the Redskins get from the three RBs (Thompson, Perine, Marshall) combined?
This poll is closed
How many rushing yards will Samaje Perine get versus the Saints on Sunday?
This poll is closed
less than 25
26 to 59
60 to 80
81 to 100
More than 100