Thursday, July 31, 2014
Alfred Morris welcomes less attention
By John Keim
RICHMOND, VA. -- Alfred Morris didn’t worry about his role after the Redskins acquired more receiving talent. He only saw the possibilities for him. Less attention can be a good thing for a running back.
With speedy playmaking receivers, the Redskins' running back understands he can benefit from them, especially since DeSean Jackson is one of the newcomers.
“I never looked at it as if I was going to get less touches having him,” said Morris, who has rushed for a combined 2,888 yards in his first two seasons combined. “I got excited having him because he’s going to take that extra defender off the box.”
Morris was tied for sixth in the NFL last season with 44 carries against eight-man fronts, averaging 3.55 yards per carry according to ESPN Stats & Information. Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson (108) and San Francisco’s Frank Gore (107) led the NFL with such carries. Two years ago, Morris was eighth in the NFL with 50 runs against eight-man fronts.
So it might not be that Morris will see a whole lot less eight-man fronts. However, there’s little doubt the Redskins will use a lot of three-receiver sets with Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts. That means more chances to spread the field, more weapons for a defense to worry about and better lanes, potentially, for Morris.
Since entering the NFL, Morris has the most carries against seven-man fronts (396) and averages 4.83 yards per carry against those looks. He's 22nd in the number of five- or six-man fronts (121) and averages 5.02 yards per carry. In comparison, Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy has 290 runs against such looks the past two years.
“It definitely takes one, two extra eyes off the backfield just for a split second which can just make the difference in any game, any play,” Morris said.
Earlier in the week, fullback Darrel Young caught a touchdown pass in the right flat because the defense lost him because it had other weapons to worry about. Young caught scoring passes like that two years ago when the offense lacked the same depth at receiver, but there were weapons in Morris, quarterback Robert Griffin III and receiver Garcon. Now they have Roberts, who has looked good in the slot, and Jackson as well as tight end Jordan Reed.
And Morris has maintained since his rookie season that he doesn’t care how many carries he receives.
“Just having [Jackson], they have to respect him,” Morris said. “I would love it if they stacked the box this year. We could just go deep every play. I would love that. The quicker we can get off the field, the better.”