With a new head coach, some intriguing free agents and a quarterback on the comeback trail, the 2014 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of training camp, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will be examining the top 30 questions the Redskins face as they get ready for the season.
Will Alfred Morris gain 1,200 yards again?
Alfred Morris followed up his smashing rookie debut season with a good but not great 2013. He took the NFL by storm in 2012, setting the Redskins team record with 1,613 rushing yards and scoring 13 touchdowns. It’s fair to say that he had a sophomore slump as his rushing total slid to 1,275 yards and seven touchdowns. That’s still a solid season but where does Morris go from here?
Tandler: Morris’ drop in productivity wasn’t all on him. In fact, most of it was due to other factors. He had 59 fewer carries in 2013 compared to 2012 (335-276). His averaged per carry dropped just 0.2 yards, from 4.8 per carry to 4.6. The Redskins were competitive throughout most of their games in their run to the division title in 2012 while during last year’s 3-13 debacle they frequently found themselves behind early and they had to abandon the run. And despite all of this, Morris still finished fourth in the league in rushing yards, ahead of more heralded backs like Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch. Morris’ ability hasn’t gone anywhere. Will he get the opportunity to use it? Earlier this month we poked some holes in the myth that Jay Gruden the play caller was exceptionally pass happy with the Bengals and that he liked to run the ball, especially on first down. Morris should get between 15-20 carries per game and that’s all he needs to get to the 1,200-yard mark.
El-Bashir: I’ll begin by saying I do expect Morris to gain around 1,200 yards. But there are some factors that could work against him. In order of importance, they are: No. 1, his physical running style leads to an injury; No. 2, Gruden's inner quarterback falls in love with the Redskins’ significantly upgraded receiving corps; and No. 3, the scoreboard forces them to abandon the run and turn to the air. I consider the first two reasons to be unlikely. Morris is still only 25, has proven to be durable and, more important, takes care good care of his body. I’m also a firm believer—based on Gruden’s history and what’s he’s said publicly—that we’ll see balanced attack on offense, despite the addition of DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts. So I still anticipate Morris will get 275 (or so) attempts. The biggest risk to Morris’ numbers, in my estimation, will be game situation. If the Redskins do well, Morris will do well. If they don’t ...