Is Alfred Morris More Critical to Washington's Success Than RG3?

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2012

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 14:  Alfred Morris #46 of the Washington Redskins runs the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during the first half at FedExField on October 14, 2012 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Robert Griffin III is the future of the NFL at the quarterback position. But this year, the Washington Redskins' offensive success hinges more on another rookie: running back Alfred Morris. 

Morris, a sixth-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft out of Florida Atlantic—pick No. 173 overall to be exact—has emerged as the starting running back for the Redskins and has completely changed Washington's offensive attack.

While Griffin has been outstanding—with 1,601 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions—in leading the Redskins to a 3-4 record and relevancy in the competitive NFC East, he wouldn't be as effective if Morris was not lining up behind him on most plays. 

It sounds strange, but opposing defenses fear the sixth-round pick. That alone should tell you all you need to know about just how much of a positive impact Morris has had in Washington. 

In seven games, Morris has been one of the most productive running backs in the NFL with 138 carries for 658 yards and five touchdowns. 

At 5'9" and 218 pounds, he has the ability to be a bruising back between the tackles and frequently keeps his legs churning to pick up four or five extra yards in scenarios where other backs cannot. What makes him such a versatile threat is his speed to run outside and his pass-blocking skills, which make him an excellent three-down back. 

Griffin has been able to light it up through the air because defenses have to account for Morris running the ball. While defenses stacking the box is also a result of Griffin's running prowess, without a legitimate running back like Morris, defenses wouldn't have to stack the box as often, rather just place a spy on Griffin.

Griffin has been electric on the ground with 468 yards and six touchdowns. His skill set and Morris' combined have given defenses headaches all season long. Thanks to Griffin and Morris, the Redskins currently have the No. 2-ranked rushing attack in the NFL, with an average of 166 yards on the ground per game. 

There are no other viable options at the position on Washington's roster who could form such a dynamic backfield with Griffin. Evan Royster, Roy Helu and Ryan Grant are all quality backups at best, and none would be as effective. 

At some point, the most critical piece for Washington will be Robert Griffin III. But for now, it is Morris. He's turned out to be a franchise running back if the first seven games of the 2012 season are any indication. 

The fact that we're debating which rookie at the two most important offensive positions is the most critical for success, one being a first-rounder and the other a sixth-rounder, speaks volumes about the job the Washington front office is doing at building a championship-caliber roster. 

Griffin and Morris are going to lead the Redskins to unprecedented heights for a long time in Washington. For now, Morris needs to receive much more credit for Griffin's early success and continued development.