Redskins finding success on first down
On most Sundays, running back Alfred Morris is the other half of the team’s one-two punch on the ground. But if Kirk Cousins starts at Cleveland Browns Stadium, Morris will get a new title: security blanket.
Morris’ ability to gain yards in chunks could reduce some of the pressure on Cousins, according to offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Morris' presence also slows down the pass rush as defenders key on the run.
“It’s huge,” Shanahan said of Morris’ role. “Alfred has been huge for us all year. He’s one of the main keys to our success. Anytime you have a running back you can feed the ball to, it makes things a lot easier for the play-caller to call runs on second and long.”
It could also make life a little easier for Cousins, a rookie quarterback who would be making his first start. Starter Robert Griffin III has practiced each of the past two days, but it remains unclear if his sprained right knee will allow him to suit up Sunday.
Morris ranks fourth in the league in rushing yards, having gained 1,232 yards on 253 yards. The Redskins are also 6-1 when Morris carries the ball 20 or more times.
“With Alf, [the play] doesn’t have to be blocked perfect, and he still gets yards,” Shanahan said. “When we don’t block as well, Alf always seems to get four yards. When you have a running back like that, you have confidence to keep feeding it to him and feeding it to him. And when you can do that, it really helps the quarterback because it slows down the pass rush.”
Asked if Morris could be a “security blanket” for Cousins, Shanahan said, “It’s a security blanket for everybody. Every quarterback wants a good runner, and I’m pretty excited about the one we have.”