The Washington Redskins realized they had a third-round steal on their hands back in rookie minicamp, when general manager Scot McCloughan evokedMarshawn Lynch in describing former Florida star Matt Jones.
While it's easy to understand comparisons to physical tackle-breakers such as Lynch, Chris Ivory, an early-career Steven Jackson and even former Cowboys bruiser Marion Barber III, Jones has displayed a high-end speed element those backs never possessed.
Leading the Redskins' new ground 'n' pound attack in a convincing 24-10 victory over the Rams, Jones reached two of the four fastest speeds recorded by a running back in Week 2.
Per Next Gen Stats, Jones maxed out at 21.70 mph on his 39-yard touchdown run, racing down the sideline to eliminate cornerback Janoris Jenkins' angle with an extra gear. Among all ball carriers, Darrius Heyward-Bey was the only player to record a higher speed.
Jones flashed that extra gear again in the second quarter, blowing through a crease of four Rams defenders at 20.54 mph on a 25-yard gain.
What's exciting about Jones' skill set is that he mixes power and speed with patience and pass-catching prowess. There are only a handful of human beings capable of moving like that at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds.
Don't expect Jones to render veteran starter Alfred Morris obsolete, however. The Redskins fully intend to complement an improved defense with a ball-control offense, thereby reducing the need for Kirk Cousins to shoulder the full responsibility of moving the chains.
"There will be some games where it may not happen like that," coach Jay Gruden said Sunday, via The MMQB. "Our plan is to keep both of them fresh. I don't really care who is in there. In pro football, I think that is the blueprint for most successful teams. We have a young quarterback. We don't want to throw it 50 times."
If that philosophy sounds familiar, it's because Mike Shanahan espoused it in August as the prescription for Cousins to emerge as a successful NFL starter.
Here's what else we learned from Next Gen Stats in Week 2:
- With the exception of his Week 1 sideline-chalk brain cramp that cost the Steelers a touchdown, Darrius Heyward-Bey has done a fine Martavis Bryant impression as the replacement No. 3 receiver. DHB recorded the fastest time by a ball-carrier in Week 2, maxing out at 22.01 mph on his 35-yard touchdown reception. Somewhere, Al Davis is smiling.
- Johnny Manziel's improvised 50-yard fourth-quarter touchdown on a broken play led offensive coordinator John DeFilippo to quip, "Coaching is overrated." When the play broke down, Manziel covered 28 yards scrambling, reaching a top speed of 15.38 mph, which was faster than any Titans defender save Blidi Wreh-Wilson -- the cornerback chasing Travis Benjamin into the end zone. With three long touchdowns, Benjamin covered 489 yards as a ball carrier, the second-most among Week 2 ball carriers behind Adrian Peterson's 645.
- The Bengals and Patriots proved there are two different ways to skin a cat on offense. Whereas New England ran an empty backfield with five receivers on 21 of 61 dropbacks, Cincinnati was one of four teams to run more plays out of the "12" formation (one running back, two tight ends, two wide receivers) than "11" (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers). Tom Brady's 466 yards were the most ever allowed by the Bills, while Andy Dalton's Bengals averaged an effective 8.0 yards per play.
- For the second straight week, the opposing defense crowed about their plans to stop Rob Gronkowski. This time it was Rex Ryan, suggesting the Bills would throw double and triple coverages at the All-Pro tight end. That's not how it went down. Cornerback Stephon Gillmore was in single coverage -- as he requested -- on Gronk's 2-yard touchdown. There was no secondary defender within 6.5 yards of Gronkowski on his other six receptions. Of the six incompletions Brady threw in Gronk's direction, there was a secondary defender in immediate vicinity just twice.
- For all of the awe inspired by J.J. Watt and, more recently, Rams' whirling dervishAaron Donald, the 2014 sack leader continues to fly below the radar. Chiefs pass rusher Justin Houston has picked up where he left off last season. Including his two sacks of Peyton Manning, all six of his tackles versus the Broncos were made at or behind the line of scrimmage.
- How did the Packers contain Marshawn Lynch? They loaded the box, selling out to stop the run. Lynch reached max speed at or behind the line of scrimmage on 11 of his 15 carries. On the other four rushes, Lynch's max speed occurred within three yards of the line of scrimmage.
- Fantasy football tip: NFL offenses are leaning more heavily on tight ends through two weeks. Two-tight ends is the second-most common set this season, utilized on 20 percent of downs and averaging roughly 6.5 yards per play. Defenses gearing up to stop the run have been met with basketball-level athletes capable of winning in traffic and stretching the field. Fantasy draft afterthoughts such as Jordan Reed, Jordan Cameron and Crockett Gillmore are playing at a high level.