Washington Redskins: Has Alfred Morris Been a Bigger Key Than RGIII?

Tyler Brooke@TylerDBrookeSenior Analyst IIJanuary 3, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 30:  Alfred Morris #46 of the Washington Redskins carries the ball against the defense of Eric Frampton #27 of the Dallas Cowboys in the third quarter at FedExField on December 30, 2012 in Landover, Maryland (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Washington Redskins are preparing for a playoff run this season. After going just 5-11 last season, they were able to turn it around, going 10-6 and grabbing a spot in the playoffs.

The Redskins will look to defeat the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday in order to keep their season alive.  With two rookie quarterbacks matching up, many are looking at the passing game to determine the outcome.

The player that has been the majority of the focus for the Redskins has been Robert Griffin III. After being selected second overall in the NFL draft, he has had a tremendous rookie season. With such an impressive skill set, he has been able to tear up defenses for the majority of the year.

However, there has been a player that has perhaps been an even bigger factor in the Redskins' success.

Alfred Morris.

Morris was taken in the sixth round of the draft out of Florida Atlantic University. With so many running backs taken ahead of him, it seemed unlikely that he would be the best out of the draft class.

It also seemed unlikely that Morris would even be starting for the Redskins at the beginning of the year. With running backs like Roy Helu and Tim Hightower on the roster, it appeared that Morris would be taking at least one year to develop.

However, head coach Mike Shanahan decided to name Morris a starter at the beginning of the season. What appeared to be a risky move at the time has paid off big for the Redskins.

Morris had one of the best years of any running back in the league this year. He was able to run for 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns on 335 attempts. He ranked second in the league on both yards and touchdowns.

Morris was able to break the franchise season rushing record, previously held by Clinton Portis. He was also able to break the franchise record for rushing touchdowns by a rookie, surpassing Charley Taylor's previous mark. He also had the third-most rushing yards in a rookie season ever.

Morris has been an important aspect for the Redskins' offense, and he has perhaps been more important than the great RGIII.

As RGIII's abilities were well known entering the season, Morris was quite unknown. While opposing defenses continually planned for Griffin's skills, Morris went unnoticed and was able to seriously hurt defenses.

Morris was also able to take a lot of pressure off of Griffin. As defenses began to be aware of how good Morris truly was, it was able to draw a lot of attention off Griffin later in the year. This helped the offense become a dangerous weapon, and it helped lead them to seven straight wins.

The contributions from both Morris and Griffin made them the top rushing offense in the league. In a league where passing has become the main focus, the Redskins were able to wear out defenses with the run.

Morris has been a huge asset to the Redskins all year. As the playoffs begin, Shanahan will be hoping that Morris can continue to play as well as he did in the regular season.

If they can do that, they are about as dangerous as anyone in the NFC.