The Sophomore Slump: Running Back Edition

USA TODAY Sports

After a freshman season when Roy Helu and Evan Royster showed flashes of being pay dirt running backs both backs were either an after-thought or a no-show during their sophomore campaigns. Should the Redskins be worried that the sophomore slum will stop Alfred Morris in his tracks as well?

During this off-season there has been a lot of speculation and debate about how each of the rookie field generals will fare their sophomore season after leading their teams to the post season, but what about the soldier in the trenches Alfred Morris? Some people think that his productivity will be slowed or halted by injury, defensive game planning, new rules, or the lack of Robert Griffin’s presence on the field. None of these factors should be an area of concern in Alfred Morris’ production on the field except the new NFL rule for running backs, which many running backs, including Adrian Peterson, have expressed their disfavor for. The new rule states that a running back cannot lead with his helmet outside of the tackle box. How will this interfere with Alfred Morris’ production, well last season 1000 of his 1613 yards came after contact. Alfred Morris is not a back that shies away from contact, because he is a power back that likes to run over and trunk defenders (in doing so he often lead with the crown of his helmet, a few times his helmet flew off).This is the reason why it often took more than one defender to bring him down; because once he lowers his center of gravity by lowering his head he is able to gain momentum which makes it hard to stop him. This often times allowed him to push the pile and fall forward to gain more yards on top of the yards he had already gained. With this new rule in place running backs like Alfred Morris will have to rethink the way they run, because anything that remotely looks like head-to-head contact will be a 15 yard penalty.

Defensive game planning and Robert Griffin not being on the field are not as detrimental to Alfred Morris’ progress as many people may think because these are things the team will be able to game plan around. For instance, teams have a lot of film to study and it remains to be seen if Robert Griffin will be ready to start week one, but the addition of Pat White and the return of Roy Helu will lighten the load on Alfred Morris in the backfield. Pat White can be used on read-option and end-rounds plays, while Roy Helu can use his speed to pick up good yardage on misdirection plays and tosses to the outside. You can also bet your bottom dollar that Mike Shanahan will look to add another change of pace back in the draft to compliment Alfred Morris. Also, injuries shouldn’t be a huge concern either, because again Alfred Morris wouldn’t have to carry the ball as much with two complimentary backs in the backfield. This lessens his chance of getting injured. All in All I think Alfred Morris will have a solid sophomore season, because his success will be decided within the limitations of regulation and not the realm of superstition. So don’t be surprised if Alfred Morris fails to live up to the expectations of last year’s phenomenal performance, if so don’t blame anyone or anything but Roger Goodell and the powder-puff league commission.

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