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Running Game needs to be Elite not Individual

After further review Alfred Morris agrees with a recent ESPN.com post by our ESPN 980 Redskins Insider John Keim that stated Alf ‘isn’t an elite back,’ but ‘he is a good one.’

Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris (46) dives into the end zone for a touchdown under pressure from Philadelphia Eagles free safety Malcolm Jenkins (27) during the first half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris (46) dives into the end zone for a touchdown under pressure from Philadelphia Eagles free safety Malcolm Jenkins (27) during the first half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Here’s what Morris said via his Instagram and the Washington Post transcriber Dan Steinberg.

When I initially read this I felt almost offended. How can the media who probably never did anything athletic in their life try to critique my play not having a true idea of what we do? But then I thought deeper and was like he’s right! I’m not an elite back. I’ve never been the biggest, fastest, or strongest. I consider myself a hard working average joe and I do just that, work hard everyday.

I agree with Keim and Morris, but who there is no shame because the list of truly ‘elite guys’ at running back is going the way of the Dinosaur thanks to the pass happy rules in place.  I would argue the list is probably only two to three deep right now with Adrian Peterson (despite last year’s suspension), Marshawn Lynch (Beast Mode), and LeSean McCoy (who’s numbers dipped last season).

Two seasons ago Jamal Charles would have been in the mix, but his touches and targets dropped significantly last year in Kansas City.  Charles still averaged a healthy 5.0 yards a carry and falls on the outside looking in right now. Also, close but not in Arian Foster, who has had some injuries the past two seasons. There are also players that need another big year or two to prove it like; Le’Veon Bell (great in run and passing game), Eddie Lacy (Beast Mode in own right), and DeMarco Murray (no longer behind Cowboys mauling offensive line).

The shelf life of running backs has always been shorter than most positions in the NFL and in today’s game there is more emphasis on passing and more RB by committee. What makes the three players I mentioned ‘elite’ in my mind is they are 3 down backs. They are active in the passing game, which has not been a strong suit for Morris.

Another thing that separates the elite RBs from Morris is their ability to take it to the house. Morris does not possess breakaway speed, but he gets you tough yards in chunks. There are other variables that have hurt Morris too. Too often the running game is abandoned in the second half or 4th quarters of games because the Redskins are playing from behind. A product of 7 wins over the past two seasons. Not his fault.

I would also argue Morris does not need to become elite for the Redskins to have a successful running game. He just needs to be consistent and take care of the football. The game plan also needs to be about running the football whether it is Morris or rookie Matt Jones, Silas Redd, or Chris Thompson. The team needs to take the pressure off the quarterback. It appears this is the Redskins mindset heading to Richmond in less than two weeks. New General Manager Scot McCloughan has preached the importance of establishing the line of scrimmage since he was hired. He has improved the offensive and defensive lines from a personnel standpoint. The team brought in Bill Callahan to coach the offensive line. Plus his track record suggests in San Francisco and Seattle the Redskins will be serious about running the football.

So it is not about whether Alfred Morris will become elite or not it is about whether the Redskins running game can become ‘elite’ one of the league’s best.

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