Throughout the history of the Washington Redskins, there have been some pretty notable runners. John Riggins and Clinton Portis were not only great players on the field but were pretty wild characters off the field as well. Not the Paul Hornung or Joe Namath kind of character, but the wig-wearing, afro-having sort of one.
Compared to the Redskins’ current runner, these two guys are quite different. Alfred Morris is one of the more quiet guys in Washington’s locker room, but his play on the field certainly does a lot of talking.
In 2012, Morris had several impressive performances, all adding up to one of the greatest years for a rookie runner in NFL history. He totaled over 1,600 yards on the ground, only behind apparent superhuman Adrian Peterson.
Many chalk Morris’ success up to the read-option and/or Robert Griffin III, and that’s just unfair.
While RG3 and Washington’s offensive system certainly played a role in Al Mo’s success, saying that it was the biggest contributing factor to his numbers greatly detracts from what he did—and without much help outside of RG3.
There were games where the passing game started off slow, but the team stayed in a competitive position because of the consistency in its run game.
It’s no secret that Morris is a great fit for the zone-blocking scheme that Mike Shanahan runs, but he doesn’t need it to thrive. The skills he possesses are such that I believe he can succeed in most any offense, but let’s focus on the one he’s in right now, especially considering he did so well in it in his first season.
After just one season in the NFL, Morris already ranks 20th overall in rushing yards in Redskins history.
When you look at the next group of guys ahead of him, it is conceivable that Morris could jump into the top 10 rushers in franchise history by the end of this upcoming season.
As it is right now, he is ranked 20th all time with 1,613 yards. Barring injury (knock on wood), logic says that he should do just as well, if not better in Year 2.
So if all goes well and he simply matches his yardage total from his rookie year, Morris will have compiled 3,226 yards in his first two years, propelling him just ahead of ninth-ranked Ladell Betts (3,176 yards in eight seasons with the team).
From there, he will have to beat out Riggins and Portis, but it doesn’t look like that will be a problem.
Riggins (the franchise’s leading all-time rusher) averaged just about 830 yards per season for nine seasons. So in order for Morris to surpass Riggins and become the team’s all-time leading rusher, he just has to average 732 yards per season for the next eight years (if he remains with the team, that is).
Now, odds are he will do much better than 732 yards per year, even if he does miss some games here and there with injuries. In fact, he has a good chance at becoming Washington’s very first 10,000-plus yard runner.
At the rate he’s going, it won’t be long either; if he maintains a circa 1,600-yard average per season, then he will hit the 10,000-yard mark in his seventh year.
Of course, this is all assuming he stays healthy and productive, but hopes are high for him.
Only time will tell how Morris’ story will be written, but it’s certainly something to watch for in the coming years.