ASHBURN, Va. -- The starting running back doesn’t need to worry about such matters. That’s not Matt Jones' role yet, so he does. And the Washington Redskins need him to handle special teams better than he did against St. Louis.
In that game, Jones nearly allowed a blocked punt and later forgot to stay on the field for another punt.
“He had a couple FUBARs on special teams,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said, referring to the military nickname for a screw-up. “Nobody is perfect. We’ll get him coached up though, that’s just the way it is. We’ve got to congratulate him on his tough running style. We’ve got to coach him up on the fumble obviously and some of his punt protection issues that were well-seen by everybody.”
Yes, while Jones rushed for 123 yards and scored two touchdowns, there were issues to correct, including the fumble. The good news for Washington is that Jones showed multiple positive traits as a runner Sunday: speed (on the 39-yard touchdown run), patience (on outside zones, including on his second touchdown) and power. The patience was evident when he allowed lead blocker Shawn Lauvao time to reach his block, then cut inside. The power was what pleased Jones.
On one carry, which I discussed here, Jones trucked Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree on a second-and-5 run in the third quarter. Nothing fancy, but the way he lowered his shoulder through the hole is exactly what the Redskins want to see.
“I put my foot in the ground and went downhill and had my shoulders square,” he said. “I really practice that, with my pad level down and that’s what I did. I credit myself on that because I’ve been working on it in practice.”
But the special teams gaffes are part of his game, too. He allowed Rams rusher Maurice Alexander to get inside him on a rush. Earlier in the game, another Rams rusher beat him around the corner. But Alexander nearly blocked the punt. After that one, the Redskins switched Jones from protecting on the left side to the right side.
Then, after one three-and-out in the second quarter, the Redskins had to burn a time out because Jones forgot to stay on the field.
“That’s something I have to get adjusted to,” Jones said. “I ran to the sideline and was ready to sit down and talk about the plays we just had. That slipped my mind. So it’s about being a pro and knowing you have to be on the field. It’s a lot, but I can fill those shoes.”
Jones played some special teams at Florida, but said it’s different in the NFL.
“In college you don’t pay too much [attention] to special teams,” he said. “When I got here in OTAs, I wasn’t on special teams and then in camp they made my role on special teams. I don’t mind. I almost gave up a blocked punt and I’ve been working on that so I know it won’t happen again. I love special teams. It’s fun being out there; it gets your blood flowing.”