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Re-Evaluating Marcus Mason

Many of you thought running back Marcus Mason had a good chance to make the opening 53-man roster. As anyone who has read the Insider recently is well aware, I thought Mason would be on the outside looking in again.

The former Georgetown Prep standout is a nice guy and a hard worker, and I gave him some love on the blog during the preseason for his consistent performance, but I figured he would be cut again because I was told the Redskins wanted a change-of-pace back. Starter Clinton Portis, backup Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright are all tackle-to-tackle runners who lack home-run potential.

Mason is in the same category.

Also, guys I trust told me that Mason, 25, really struggled with blitz pick-ups in his 2008 preseason audition. He doesn't have breakaway speed and isn't great in protection, so that pretty much ended his chances for me.

As I've pointed out, however, people look at things differently. In making phone calls over the weekend, I learned I was wrong about Mason on some things, but I'm not totally crazy.

Several people I trust acknowledged Mason does not provide a true change of pace. He's not the type of guy who will get to the edge and make big plays. What he is, however, is someone who displays a great burst on rushes while hitting holes.

"I'm getting an opportunity now," Mason said. "Now, I'm just trying to stay on the team."

Running back Anthony Alridge (he has been clocked at 4.36 in the 40-yard dash) would have been the classic change-of-pace back for the Redskins. Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations, told me early in camp he was intrigued about what Alridge could add to the offense if he made the team. The Redskins exercised patience with Alridge as he fumbled repeatedly in practice and then missed considerable time with a foot injury.

But after Alridge fumbled on a kickoff return (he held the ball in the wrong hand) and it was returned for a touchdown in the final preseason game against Jacksonville, well, everything has its limits. The Redskins just were not comfortable with Alridge because of his problems with ball security, and who could blame them?

As for Mason's pass blocking, one person I spoke with said he was much improved from last preseason. Another told me he definitely blocks well enough, saying this preseason -not the last one - is all that matters. Having more time in the offense helped his blocking improve, Mason said Monday before practice at Redskins Park.

"It's my second year in the offense, so that helps a lot," he said. "To know where you're going, what you've got and who you're blocking ... that helps a lot. I feel like I'm the same runner, but understanding the blocking schemes a little better, and understanding who I'm picking up on pass protection, that helped."

Few teams have speedy star backs, such as the Tennessee Titans' Chris Johnson or those who do a bit of everything well, such as the San Diego Chargers' Darren Sproles. In Mason, the Redskins have another back who runs hard between the tackles, but has that nice burst as well.

I'm not sure how the Redskins plan to use Mason. Washington kept 10 offensive linemen, and with age and injury concerns along the line, I expect the team to have many active each week. The coaches are committed to Betts as the primary third-down back, at least to start the season, and Portis is expected to maintain a heavy workload.

Of course, none of that really matters to Mason. He was on the Redskins' practice squad in 2007 and was cut at the end of the 2008 preseason despite leading the league in rushing (317) and yards from scrimmage (373). Mason also spent time with the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets last season, so he's just excited to be with the Redskins to open the season. From what I'm told, he definitely earned his spot.

"Everything happens for a reason," he said. "I'm here, so I really can't complain."

By Jason Reid  |  September 7, 2009; 3:10 PM ET
Categories:  Jason Reid  
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Comments

First.

Happy that Mason is on the squad. Hopefully Alridge can work on his ball-handling skills and make it somewhere (hopefully here) in the future.

Posted by: alizadk | September 7, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

First of all, first!

Posted by: peaceful2008 | September 7, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

The Jints O-line is obviously very good but [1] our D-line is much better than it was, and [2] Eli has always been mediocre at best, and he no longer has the option of just lofting the ball in Plax's general vicinity. Eli will get smacked, and he will throw up ducks.

Which Los can't catch. But Hall, Landry and others can.

Posted by: chasgiffen | September 7, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Don't get me started about Alridge. I'm glad Mason made the team. Now it's up to Portis to lead the way.

Posted by: RedCherokee | September 7, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

But at 175 lb's, how long would Alridge survive? How many NFL RB's are that small?

Posted by: chasgiffen | September 7, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Mason IS a change of pace running back, he can get through people. In CP, RC, and especially Ladell Betts, Redskins have talented RB's who have a knack for running INTO the defenders and falling down. They execute this pattern rather efficiently on most running downs, 1st and ten, then 2nd and nine, then ....

Mason can provide a change of pace by running through the defenders and gaining actual yards!!

Also, Alridge would have been a change of pace by providing us with the much needed offenssive fumbles. Outside of Betts, CP and RC tend to hold on to the ball no matter what, whether they gained anything or not, we still kept possesion. Alridge coud be a change of pace by fumbling often, allowing our defense to dominate!!

Posted by: peaceful2008 | September 7, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

If I am the Giants, here is my game plan. Redskins need to first scare me with their passing game before I stop playing the run, period.

So, if Zorn keeps calling run plays, he is just throwing away downs, pure and simple. Campbell needs to throw on all downs for the first few series. Let's see if the passing game can set up the running game.

Posted by: peaceful2008 | September 7, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

First and ten, throw
2nd and whatever, throw
3rd and whatever, throw
1st and 10, throw
2nd and whatever, throw
1st and 10, throw
1st and 10 thrwo
2nd and whatever,throw
3rd and whatever, thrwo
1st and 10 throw....TD

Posted by: peaceful2008 | September 7, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

The Jints O-line is obviously very good but [1] our D-line is much better than it was, and [2] Eli has always been mediocre at best, and he no longer has the option of just lofting the ball in Plax's general vicinity. Eli will get smacked, and he will throw up ducks.

Which Los can't catch. But Hall, Landry and others can.

Posted by: chasgiffen | September 7, 2009 3:18 PM

charles, man, you got to get up off LOS. He's got them new sticky gloves man, he'll catch everything that hits him in the hands.

Posted by: glawrence007 | September 7, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Portis had fumbling problems his first year.. You can coach hanging onto the ball.. But, you cant teach 4.3 speed in an RB.
Skins should of retained Alridge.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Mason IS a change of pace running back, he can get through people. In CP, RC, and especially Ladell Betts, Redskins have talented RB's who have a knack for running INTO the defenders and falling down. They execute this pattern rather efficiently on most running downs, 1st and ten, then 2nd and nine, then ....

Mason can provide a change of pace by running through the defenders and gaining actual yards!!

Also, Alridge would have been a change of pace by providing us with the much needed offenssive fumbles. Outside of Betts, CP and RC tend to hold on to the ball no matter what, whether they gained anything or not, we still kept possesion. Alridge coud be a change of pace by fumbling often, allowing our defense to dominate!!

Posted by: peaceful2008 | September 7, 2009 3:24 PM |

Posted by: SkinsneedaGM | September 7, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

"shoot, they can pass, let's play the pass, guys, get back in coverage, it seems like they are here to throw"

says dummass Coughlin.

Posted by: peaceful2008 | September 7, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

T.E. ,I think they put Harris at safety due to depth at CB,He played cb all his life and may end up there eventually.Anyway I think he's better than Barnes IMO,and would have opened up that 3rd rounder for OL.

Posted by: mark65 | September 7, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

beep beep
(thanks for that, mark65)

Posted by: talent_evaluator | September 7, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Gints defensive plan..

Double Moss, block down Cooley, stack Portis and see if JC has improved since last year.
If not, it will be the same as 08, Double Pump and Dump.. short or incomplete.

However, if JC has improved, (and the OLine allows him) he will make it to the 2nd Read and burn the Gints with a new threat called Marko.

Posted by: SkinsneedaGM | September 7, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

next series:

1st and 10, CP runs for 4 yards

"get back to playing the run, they were just using the passing game to set up their running game" say jerkface Coughlin

2nd and 6, throw
1st and 10, throw
1st and 10, throw

"damn, I am confused, let's play the pass again" say pencildik Coughlin

2nd and 3, run
1st and 10, run
2nd and 1, run

see what I mean? abandon the running game early, then come back to it later, especially when d is gettin tired.

Posted by: peaceful2008 | September 7, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I too wished we'd kept Aldridge. Fumbling is something that can be reduced through practice. Can't teach his speed though. Betts ought to kiss the ground there at Redskins park. He's so mediocre and gets to collect another check. Rock and Betts should be trying to find another team IMO, or we should try to trade them to Oakland for O-linemen. Thomas can return kicks and punts.
What is up with fred Davis not being able to let us say bye-bye to Yoder? UFB!

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | September 7, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Coach Zorn,, for the sake of this town, its fans, the owner and his bank account, for the sake of our sanity....please listen to Peaceful2008, the footbowl genius

Posted by: peaceful2008 | September 7, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

let's call the exact opposite of what Joe Gibbs 2.0 would have called

Posted by: peaceful2008 | September 7, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

J. Reid, thanks for writing this clarification on Mason. Props for admitting when you're wrong...it's something La Canfora would never do. So it's appreciated.

Most of us did have Mason making this team, and he DEFINITELY earned it. Good for him and good for the Skins brass for making the smart decision.

Posted by: Barno1 | September 7, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Redskins, don't attempt a running playing until late in the 2nd quarter. Trust me if will drive the coughman crazy

Posted by: peaceful2008 | September 7, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

What has Mason been clocked at in the 40?

Posted by: Barno1 | September 7, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Barno. can you please stop bringing up the name of that imbecile LaCantreporta? Reid is a human being who loves the Redskins and is occasionally wrong.

LaCantreporta is a two-faced weasel who was just here to make a career for himself, lying, fabricating, poking etc. Cantreporta is subhuman and it is an insult to bring his name up i nthe same sentence with anyone

Posted by: peaceful2008 | September 7, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

laboring for my team on Labor Day!

thanks Duvel

Posted by: peaceful2008 | September 7, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

We've got 4 Ernest Byners on the Roster - and Ledell sure does fumble a lot too in crucial situations.

Posted by: coparker5 | September 7, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Mason might a little more like Terry Allen

Posted by: coparker5 | September 7, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

charles, man, you got to get up off LOS. He's got them new sticky gloves man, he'll catch everything that hits him in the hands.

Posted by: glawrence007
____________________________

He needs 3 gallons of Stickum spread all over his gloves, arms, helmet, uni... like in the old days.

Posted by: chasgiffen | September 7, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

So my crazy idea--and forgive me if anybody else has posted this--is that the Redskins should pass a lot against the Giants.

Posted by: farstriker | September 7, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

fart-striker,

I think Redskin need to start passing more too. Not a half-arse attempt to pass and submit to a run on 3rd and 7. just let JC attempt to get a first down by passing on all three downs as needed. Once he gets into a rhythm, hopefully, and the defense begins to adjust, then running will be easier. I know I am sounding amateurish, but I see OTHER teams do that to us. As good as Redskins D is against the run, the teams, just pass and pass until we get tired or adjust to the passing games, then.....we lose.

Posted by: peaceful2008 | September 7, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

I think with Mason, we may start converting a few more of those 3rd and a long yard, and we may get a few more TD's when we get inside the 3 yd line or so instead of having to kick a FG or turn it over on 4th and goal on the 1 yd line.

Posted by: kenboy1 | September 7, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Jason Reid, I was most critical of you because of your dislike for Mason and others but after reading this tread and seeing OWN your lack of real Journalism, I now have respect in you as a man because you owned this piece.

As a true fan of the game you can see for yourself if someone is doing well and when they are not, and Mason was doing what was asked and he did well ( Check N.E. preseason game ). I trust that you will rely on more creditable sources for your future Insider Information.

Thank you for retracting your views about this Kid and owning your lack of qualified information. Writing anything on the internet without proper facts with WAPO backing your creditability leads to other internet outlets such as Rotoworld.com and KFFL.com rehashing what you wrote based on false and inaccurate details. Rotoworld.com killed the kid based on what you wrote three days ago and many people such as myself view Rotoworld daily for updates on transactions around the league and 95% of the information that is provided is from the contribution of local beat reporters such as yourself in that teams market.
Thanks again for your ownership.......

Posted by: thebanker21 | September 7, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

peaceful 2008 i have to say i do agree throw, throw, throw, back the dbs up and set up the run game Porits all day.....Moss and Kelly=good tandem....plus Portis is on my fantasy team Casey has hit the weights and with Dockery back the online should be alright barring injury

Posted by: abysmalsportswear | September 8, 2009 12:43 AM | Report abuse

It is nice to have a change of pace back, and having more speed on the field rarely hurts, but I think they made the right choice in Mason. At this point, I think he's just a better football player than Aldridge. Even though he is very similar to CP, Betts and Rock, he does seem to have bit more burst at times. Chalk it up to younger legs. He may end up helping more later in the season when CP and Betts start to wear down a bit.

And yes, Peace08 you are clearly right. Against the team with arguably the best pass rush in the league, we should throw as much as possible. Certainly they will never expect it....

Especially with Kelly in there, I do expect to see more of a West Coast staple that I don't recall much from last year or this preseason, which is the WR quick slant. MK's bigger frame and ability to beat jams at the line (hopefully) should make it more possible. However it does rely on a quick and accurate release, which are not JC's strong points.

Posted by: ts35 | September 8, 2009 1:14 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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