The Washington Redskins' running game in Thursday's preseason opener against Atlanta didn't leave fans with much confidence it had improved over last season. So that's a natural topic for the mailbag.
#Jkredskins ... Has there been a Pierre Thomas call yet? Seems that we need another vet to bolster this running attack.— Pick Up the PEACEz (@HustleMarsalis1) August 12, 2016
John Keim: OK, I answered this one because several questions last week pertained to the run game as did a handful this week. After Thursday night, I understand why.
As for Pierre Thomas, the Redskins have always been interested in him and if the price had been right, and Thomas had been willing, I think he would have been here in the spring.
But last year, Thomas sat out camp and waited to pick a team until after the season began. His price tag was too high. This allowed him to choose one that might be a better fit. Of course, that didn’t work out too well for him, considering he signed with San Francisco and was cut after playing in one game.
However, that led him to Washington, where he was an excellent fit in December. A key here: Thomas is good enough to help, but teams also like to see if they have better options on their own rosters. By waiting until they really know what they have, and until after the season begins, they can sign Thomas to a non-guaranteed contract.
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.
Chris Thompson, because of durability concerns, is best suited for the role he’s in as a third-down back. Nobody else, entering Thursday, was viewed as being likely for a roster spot. Doesn’t mean they won’t earn it, but they had more to prove. The other part: It wasn't only their fault that the run game failed; there were definite blocking issues as well and I don't think Thomas would solve those problems.
With Jones, I’m not going to go overboard in overanalyzing his three carries Thursday. I wanted to see much more from him and the run game, but also understand it’s a preseason opener. Still, the Redskins have to improve. I also remember Alfred Morris' rookie season, when we got a great feel for his style; I’d like to see one of these backs truck someone. Those type of runs are energizing and set a tone. Too many runs ended up with the back getting little to nothing after contact.
I don’t think the Redskins are done looking for another back. They’re not in position to feel comfortable at this position. Even if Jones becomes their top guy, I’d still want someone such as Thomas just in case. Thomas was a terrific mentor last season and his experience could help again.