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Morris: 'I haven't made it yet'

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Morris: 'I haven't made it yet'

RICHMOND--The NFL is all about what you have done lately. It is also a league where if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. The status quo is not acceptable.

Alfred Morris knows all about that this year. In 2012 he rushed for 1613 yards, breaking the team record for a single season and becoming just the fourth rookie in NFL history to rush for more than 1600 yards. Morris believes that he is up to the challenge of being one of the league’s most productive backs again.

“You can always top production,” the Redskins’ sixth-round draft pick a year ago said on Thursday. “It comes down to willingness and, I guess, how bad you want it in a sense. I always hold myself at a higher standard and I love a challenge. It’s going to be tough to do that, but it is definitely not impossible to do.”

Precedent says that an encore to a powerful rookie season is not impossible but it is difficult. Of the three rookie runners who gained 1600 yards before him, only one actually rushed for more yards the following season.

George Rogers suffered the worst sophomore slump. After piling up 1674 yards for the Saints in 1981, injuries and a strike-shortened campaign dropped his output to 535 yards in year two.

After going for 1605 yards as a rookie in 1979, Ottis Anderson of the Cardinals had a very respectable second season with 1352 rushing yards. Still, that was a drop-off.

The only one who didn’t get worse was Eric Dickerson of the Rams. He set the rookie record with 1808 yards in 1983 and then topped that by setting the single-season NFL record with 2105 the next year.

Morris may not top the Hall of Famer Dickerson’s mark but he will try to get better by assuming nothing, not even his position at the top of the depth chart.

“To me, I’m not the starter,” he said. “I still have that mindset as if I haven’t made it yet. I know it sounds cliché to say that but, that’s just the way I approach everything. It’s a business. You never know what can happen, so I’m always trying to find way to better me.”

Coach Mike Shanahan doesn’t know if Morris will necessarily produce more yardage than he did last year but he can improve as a football player.

“There’s no question in my mind that he’s going to be one of the best backs because of how hard he works, what type of shape he’s in,” said Shanahan. “You can tell he’s confident just in running during the OTA days and even today. He’s going to be a guy that just keeps on getting better.”

An improved Morris would be very bad news for opposing defenses.

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The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 7 worst play of 2016

Giants at Redskins, Week 17

4:02 left in Q4, Giants ball 1st and 10 at their own 31, game tied 10-10

Eli Manning pass deep left to Tavarres King pushed ob at WAS 25 for 44 yards (Will Blackmon).

Related: The Redskins week that was

Tandler: It looked like the Redskins were on the verge of saving their season. They were down 10-0 in the third quarter but they battled back to tie it up in the late going. But after lulling the Redskins defense to sleep with running plays and short passes, Manning launched one deep down the left sideline. King, who had one reception for six yards on the season coming into the game, had a step on cornerback Greg Toler and he hauled in the pass for 44 yards. Four plays later Robbie Gould kicked a 40-yard field goal to give the Giants the lead.

More Redskins: Offensive coordinator situation set?

Finlay: In a terrible game that led to many more questions than answers for the Redskins, this play was just a huge, huge disappointment. Washington fought back to tie up a game that they had largely been outplayed in, particulrly in the first half. Remember, the Giants had nothing to play for while for the 'Skins, a win would put them in the playoffs. The New York offense was laregly nonexistent in the second half of this game, as it became obvious Eli Manning did not want to get hit. And still, the embattled Redskins defense gave up a long pass play to a dude that had contrbuted basically nothing all season. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Mike Shanahan likes Kirk Cousins, both as a person and as a quarterback. The former Redskins coach has made no secret about that. Luckilly for the 'Skins, especially with Cousins staring at free agency, Mike Shanahan is no longer coaching in the NFL.

His son Kyle, however, seems highly likely to take over as San Francisco 49ers head coach. And soon.

Kyle Shanahan currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and once their playoff run ends, most expect Shanahan to be named Niners head coach. 

Why should Washington fans care? Allow ESPN's Adam Schefter to explain:

Kyle Shanahan is set to become the San Francisco 49ers' head coach after Atlanta's season ends. San Francisco needs a quarterback as much as any other team in the league. If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan.

Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick. And if Washington doesn't want to deal now, it could have issues later.

This news should not be a shock to Skins fans, but it should be taken seriously. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was part of the Washington organization when Cousins was drafted and the duo worked together in 2012 and 2013. Most quarterbacks would love to run Shanahan's No. 1 ranked offense from Atlanta, and the guess here says Cousins would probably jump at the opportunity. 

Still, much must be worked out.

While some in the Washington front office might have questions about what the long-term value should be in a Cousins contract, the team still has some control. They can place the franchise tag on Cousins this season, like they did last season, and work until mid-summer on a multi-year deal. Or Cousins can again play on a franchise tag in 2017, like he did in 2016 and passed for nearly 5,000 yards.

MORE REDSKINS: Kevin O'Connell to be hired as QB coach

What makes Schefter's report the most interesting is the mention of the No. 2 overall pick. Observing the Redskins in 2016, it became obvious the team needs more impact players on defense, and with the second overall pick combined with their own 17th pick and eight more after that, that could deliver an immediate boost. 

Whatever boost a package of draft picks might bring in will be hard pressed to match the production of Cousins. Finding a starting quarterback in the NFL is exceptionally hard, and while Cousins has shown flashes of a special player, he has certainly confirmed he is a capable player in two seasons at the helm of Jay Gruden's offense.

Scot McCloughan and the Redskins brain trust have a few more weeks before free agency, and with it, the deadline to again place the franchise tag on Cousins. It's nearly impossible to see a scenario where Cousins hits the open market this season, but if the No. 2 overall pick comes into play, other scenarios start to seem more possible. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!