The diminished role of the run game — specifically, the missing threat of Robert Griffin III’s legs — had a trickle-down effect on Alfred Morris last season.
After piling up 1,613 yards on 335 attempts as a rookie in 2012, Morris saw significantly fewer carries last season, finishing with 1,275 yards on 276 attempts. That doesn’t mean he was any less productive; in fact, his 4.6 yards-per-carry average was just a hair shy of the 4.8 yards he averaged per carry as a rookie.
Morris wasn’t trusted to shoulder the running game as much as he was during his first year, when he routinely carried the ball more than 20 times a game. In fact, Morris never cracked the 20-carry mark in the Redskins’ first seven contests — a good number of which found Washington in a sizable early hole and unable to recover.
The biggest change for Morris this season will come as the Redskins tilt away from the zone-blocking scheme run under the Shanahans for the last four years and toward incorporating more of a power game. Morris was familiar with a traditional running scheme in college at Florida Atlantic, and the biggest question lingering when he was drafted by Washington was how receptive he’d be to the shift in philosophy.
Very, as it turned out; Morris‘ combined 2,888 yards over his first two seasons were more than any other player in the league during that time except the Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson.
What also will change for Morris will be how involved he is in the passing game. While with the Cincinnati Bengals, Jay Gruden placed an emphasis on his running backs being able to catch the ball out of the backfield — something Morris did only 20 times during his first two seasons. That role was primarily left to Roy Helu, the third-down back who once caught a team-record 14 passes in a game in 2011.
While his ability as a receiver, and his breakaway speed, should help Helu make the roster, the Redskins will have decisions to make with regards to the rest of their running backs — Evan Royster, Chris Thompson, sixth-round draft pick Lache Seastrunk and undrafted rookie Silas Redd.