This morning, we examined the Redskins’ 2014 outlook at running back. Now, CSNWashington.com Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will give their take on how to fix one of the team’s pressing offseason needs: Should Jay Gruden keep going with Alfred Morris as the workhorse back or should he and Roy Helu Jr. share carries in a two-back attack?
Tandler: Let’s dispense with the first argument against job sharing right off the bat. Many will say that Morris, like any good running back, needs some carries to get “lathered up” and that he wouldn’t be as effective sharing carries. If you look at the numbers, however, that doesn’t stand up. For his career, Morris averages 4.7 yards per carry in the first half and he has the identical average in the second half and overtime. Morris averages 4.2 yards per carry in the first quarter and 3.8 in the fourth.
Helu has a career average of 4.3 yards per carry, somewhat low for a player who is thought of as a quicker and faster back. His best stretch of last season came against the Raiders, Cowboys, and Bears. In those three games he carried 30 times for 124 yards (4.1 per carry) and three touchdowns. Two of the Redskins’ three wins came in that stretch.
In his career, Helu averages 4.5 yards per carry in the first half of games and 4.0 in the second.
Are the Redskins better off giving some more of Morris’ workload to Helu? Maybe a few carries per game to keep Morris fresher in the fourth quarter. But in the big picture it doesn’t make much sense to move a lot of carries from a back who averages 4.7 yards per carry to one who averages almost half a yard less.
El-Bashir: Let’s not overcomplicate this. Alfred Morris believes he’s a more effective player when he’s heavily involved in the offense. The numbers prove it, too.
As a rookie, Morris carried the ball 335 times for 1,613 yards, 13 touchdowns and an average of 4.8 yards per carry. The Redskins were also 9-1 when he got 20 or more touches.
Last season, Morris’ numbers were down across the board. He had 276 carries for 1,275 yards, seven touchdowns and 4.6 yards per attempt. He had 20 or more carries only four times. Of course, there were mitigating circumstances. The Redskins usually found themselves behind and Robert Griffin III wasn't the threat he was in 2012, but still…
I do like what Helu brings to the table, especially the elusiveness and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield (his 31 reception in 2013 were fourth most on the team).
But, again, let’s not overcomplicate this. Morris has proven to be prolific and, just as important, durable through his first two seasons. He wants to ball and the Redskins' offense is more productive when he gets it -- a lot.