Larry and Tarik pick the weekend's games
Redskins running back Alfred Morris sits third in rushing yards this season with 825, ranking just behind the Eagles’ LeSean McCoy (932) and the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch (871).
But Morris leads all running backs in another important statistical category: yards per attempt. He’s averaging 5.2 yards per rush, which is 0.4 better than McCoy and 0.6 better than Lynch.
Morris is also on pace to set the Redskins’ single season record for yards per carry among players with at least 250 attempts. Stephen Davis is the current record holder (4.84 in 1999). Next on the list Morris’ average as a rookie last season (4.81). For comparison’s sake, John Riggins ranks third (4.43 in 1979).
Asked why Morris is averaging almost a half-yard more per rush than he did a year ago, Coach Mike Shanahan cracked, “Coaching.” Shanahan then added, “He’s a lot more comfortable. Guys that go into the second year, they …have gotten into great football shape [and] they know what to expect. It’s a little bit easier for him to make reads and [he feels] more comfortable with the system and what he’s doing. He works extremely hard at it.”
Morris agreed with his coach’s assessment, saying there’s definitely less thinking and more reacting as he scans the field for running lanes. But he also attributes some of the increase in production to the speed and conditioning work he put in during the spring and summer.
“I did some good training this offseason,” Morris said Friday between deep breaths after sprinting nearly 100 yards from the practice field to the locker room. “I definitely feel more explosive. I feel like I’m getting better [as the season progresses]. I’m also more patient and getting more comfortable back there. It’s all working out.”
Fullback Darrel Young added: “It feels like he’s faster. Running in front of him, sometimes it’s like, ‘Dang, Alfred. How did you get here so fast?’ I guess last year he was thinking while he was running, too. That comes with a year of experience. The game is slowing down for him.”
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Young noted one more reason he believes Morris is gaining more yards per attempt: yards after contact. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Morris is averaging 2.95 yards this season after contact per attempt, which ranks behind only the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson's 3.31.
“The first guys hits him, then [Morris] falls forward for three more yards,” Young said. “That's what separates a four-yard run from a seven-yard run. That’s just what he does. The first guy hasn’t tackled him a long time. And if they do, it’s a late tackle. That’s just special, man.”