Redskins' Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris on Pace for Historic Season
Since the AFL-NFL merger, there have only been six teams to finish a season with two 1,000-yard rushers. Only once has the feat been accomplished by a quarterback and a running back, and that was in 2006 with Michael Vick and Warrick Dunn combining for 2,179 yards on the ground.
Never has there been a rookie quarterback-running back tandem to rush for 1,000 yards apiece as Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris are on pace to do.
It would be an understatement to say that Griffin has taken the NFL by storm with his seemingly incredible performance in the face of the adversity that comes part and parcel with quarterbacking the Washington Redskins.
He has dazzled fans, experts and opposition with his arm, his legs, his command of the offense and his ability to improvise when a play breaks down.
In his NFL debut against the Saints, Griffin had a quiet day on the ground, carrying the ball nine times for 47 yards.
He followed it up with an 11-carry, 82-yard, two-touchdown performance in the loss to St. Louis.
It wasn't until his 76-yard touchdown run against the Minnesota Vikings that everyone saw the type of runnier Griffin could be if left unchecked.
What has gone largely unnoticed in Griffin's ascent to the top of the NFL has been Morris' unexpected rise to prominence alongside.
Morris didn't have the fastest 40-yard dash and didn't come from a top program, which led many draftniks to pigeonhole him as a longshot to make a roster, let alone earn much playing time.
He played both running back and fullback at FAU, which hurt his stock and made experts believe he'd be a fullback at the next level given his build, his blocking ability and his seemingly limited upside.
He didn't bench enough at the combine, he fumbled a lot in college and he doesn't have the sexy speed or open-field moves teams drool over and expect from their top backs.
Instead, Morris combines a strong work ethic with a physical running style that allows him to find success between the tackles, and almost always finish moving forward after initial contact.
He doesn't rip off 50- and 60-yard runs, but he is good for 10 and 15 yards a few times per game.
Beyond being another late-round gem plucked from obscurity by the running back guru known as Mike Shanahan, Morris has become the unquestioned workhorse for a team that entered the season looking like a running-back-by-committee backfield.
His performance alone warrants attention, and is impressive given the spotlight stuck fast to teammate RGIII. Griffin has won Pepsi Rookie of the Week honors three times this season, but Morris won the honor last week with his 120-yard performance against the New York Giants.
Numbers alone don't capture how special is the potentially historic season these two players are having.
It is less surprising that Griffin is flirting with some kind of history after he started the season with a bang, and has shown little signs of slowing down. Morris came from FAU, which has only had a football program since 2001, to become one of the brightest stars of this season.
To get this kind of production from two players following starkly different paths to the NFL is astounding, and to see it happen from the very beginning is special.
There is plenty of room for Morris, Griffin and the Redskins to stumble along the way, but if their performance heading toward the halfway mark of the season is any indicator, they'll almost assuredly make history by season's end.
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