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Two Point Attempt: Is Alfred Morris Replaceable?

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Mark Tyler and iH8dallas debate the future of Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Point(by iH8Dallas):

Alfred Morris is a stud, and the drafting of Matt Jones will have no effect on him. After the 2014 season, the Redskins renewed a commitment to the running game. They drafted Brandon Scherff, cut Chris Chester and added a large running back from Florida named Matt Jones. This led some of the HH faithful and Twitter GMs to speculate about the future of our beloved Alfred Morris. Well, let me learn you; Alfred Morris is going nowhere. His numbers are on par with the last three running backs inducted into the Hall of Fame. Since coming into the NFL he's second in the league in rushing, behind only Marshawn Lynch. Let's take a look at the numbers, shall we? First three years in the NFL: Jerome Bettis- 3,091 yards rushing and 13 TDs Curtis Martin- 3,799 yards rushing and 32 TDs Marshall Faulk- 2,947 yards rushing and 29 TDs Alfred Morris- 3,962 yards rushing and 28 TDs If you look at ONLY Marshawn Lynch's career in Seattle, he averages 79.1 YPG rushing. Morris averages 82.5 YPG rushing.

Any way you look at Morris, he's an elite running back in the NFL. And to boot, he's never injured. In a position that takes such a pounding, it's rare to find a player who avoids injury. Not to mention, he's not just a "zone runner" as he's oft been labeled. He routinely racks up yards after contact and will thrive with Bill Callahan. Will Matt Jones steal a few goal line carries? Sure. But the Redskins should have no plans to discard one of the NFL's best.

Counter Point(by Mark Tyler):

When the Redskins drafted Matt Jones out of Florida in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, questions immediately arose regarding how Jones' arrival may impact Morris' role both this season and in the future. Morris has a contract that is set to expire next offseason, and the value of running backs in the NFL has taken a downward turn for a few reasons: 1)Running backs have one of the shortest shelf lives of any position in the NFL. 2)Running back-by-committee is implemented my most NFL teams in order to keep guys fresh during games, and to utilize certain player's unique skill sets to create mismatches against opposing defenses. 3)Teams pass over 62% of the time, so the emphasis that was put on the running game is not what it once was.

There is absolutely no debating the production and durability Alfred Morris has provided in his first three seasons with the Redskins. His numbers have been fantastic, and he's been a consummate professional, team player and model citizen, but the NFL is all about money. If the Redskins feel they may have a guy who can put up very similar numbers, who is younger, and who could potentially end up costing the team a fraction of what a new contract for Morris will cost, the staff may choose to let the latter walk via free agency in favor of the younger, fresher, cheaper player.

Another point is that Redskins fans seem to value Alfred Morris much more than the rest of the league - and this is 100 percent normal. Fact remains, Morris is not a complete back in today's NFL, and most of the players who get rewarded with big contracts are players who can do it all. Morris is not a threat to any defense out of the backfield(he has just 37 career receptions), he's a below average blocker, is not a threat to take it to the house from anywhere on the field, and despite his running style, is really not considered a premier goalline or short yardage specialist. There have also been some ball security issues, which have seen him fumble 11 times, losing 7 of those. He's really just a good, one-cut, get the most out of what you can running back.

My problem with paying Morris franchise type of money is all revolving around production. First, as I mentioned previously, I don't believe he's a complete back. Second, I think his numbers are a bit deceiving given that he had by far his most productive season as a rookie, when defenses were tasked with stopping the read option, and the dynamic playmaker that Robert Griffin was. The read option relies on deception to fool opposing defenses. Linebackers can not simply play read-and-react football. They must remain more discipline, and even when they do so, they can still be easily fooled. The stats show that each year, his production has decreased. In 2012, Morris averaged 4.8 YPC, and rushed for 1613 yards and 13 TD's. In 2013, a year where we saw much less read option, Morris averaged 4.6 YPC, and rushed for 1275 yards and 7 TD's. Last season, in a new offense under Jay Gruden, which had no read option threat, Morris averaged just 4.1 YPC, for 1074 yards and 8 TD's. Are these the type of numbers you pay a guy over 4 million per year to produce, when you can probably get the same production from another player for a quarter of that?

My final thought centers around where he ranks amongst the best running backs in the NFL. When I look at running backs, I look at three main things: running, receiving and blocking. There are a few other attributes that I factor into the equation such as goalline presence, ball security, durability and special teams contributions. Some will argue Morris is a top 5 running back in the league, but I believe he falls around the latter half of the top 10(probably 9th or 10th). I have, in no particular order, Peterson, Lynch, Bell, Forte, McCoy, Charles, Foster, Murray and Lacey all ranked above him. I would pay franchise-type money to about 6 players on this list - that is all. To me, even the remainder of the guys I have ahead of him are replaceable.

So, for me, it all comes down to what Morris is asking for. If he will remain in Washington for a reasonable contract, I'd be thrilled to keep him. If his contract demands exceed 3.5 million per season, I give him a gold watch, and say thank you for your time.

Short answer - yes, Alfred Morris is replaceable.