Robert Griffin III won over the hearts of Washington Redskins fans in 2012, but the ones paying close attention during the team’s march to the postseason know all too well the Skins would not have won the NFC East without the little-known man in their backfield, running back Alfred Morris. The sixth-round pick rumbled his way to 1,613 rushing yards as a rookie, setting the franchise’s all-time single-season rushing record, and earning him second-team All-Pro honors as well.
After setting the bar so incredibly high for himself as a rookie, though, is Morris destined to regress in 2013? Or, to put the question into more familiar terms for sports nuts, will the Redskins’ budding star fall victim to the dreaded sophomore slump this coming season?
While every sports fan in the nation’s capital spends his or her winter stewing over RGIII’s knee injury and wondering when he’ll be able to get back on the field, Morris is likely hard at work continuing to prove to the 31 teams who passed him up in the first five rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft they made a major mistake last year. Oddly enough, the pick used to acquire Morris in the draft came to Washington in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings, the team with the one running back (Adrian Peterson) who out-gained Morris on the ground last season.
Morris also trailed only one back (Arian Foster) in rushing touchdowns, finishing with 13 in all.
But, the young phenom is a secret no more. Everyone (at least everyone employed by the NFL) now knows exactly what he’s capable of, and will be paying extra attention to him from here on out. To give you a better idea of his effect on the outcome of games, Washington was 8-1 in 2012 when Morris found the end zone, and just 2-5 when he didn’t. The Skins were 9-1 when he carried the ball at least 20 times in a game, and 1-5 when he didn’t.
RGIII is an amazing young signal-caller, but any team aware of those numbers has to realize they can’t spend too much time keying on Washington’s QB, or Morris will continue to make them pay dearly. As a result, Morris will likely garner that much extra attention when he takes the field in 2013. That right there will prove to be Morris’ biggest obstacle in avoiding a sophomore slump this coming season.
Morris already appears to be the real deal in the Redskins backfield and he doesn’t have to rush for 1,600 yards again in 2013 just to prove that. Even so, how he performs this coming season will go a long way in determining whether Redskins fans and fantasy football fanatics can expect a superstar-like effort from Morris year in and year out for the duration of his career.