Number 46 on our list presents some legitimate competition.
Ladell Betts, who ran for over 1,000 yards in 2006, actually has a higher “Approximate Value” than Alfred Morris, according to Pro Football Reference. But there’s no question in my mind that Morris has the stronger Redskins resume, even in his relatively short time in D.C.
Outside of his sterling effort filling in for an injured Clinton Portis in 2006, Betts was a very good back-up. That was his role. Excluding the 1,154 yards he gained in ‘06, his best seasonal rushing total was 371 yards.
On the other hand, Morris averaged over 1,000 yards per season during his time in Washington.
Morris burst onto the NFL scene with a record-setting rookie campaign, rushing for an all-time franchise-best 1,613 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns. The only reason Morris didn’t win Rookie of the Year in 2012 is because his own teammate, Robert Griffin III, did so.
Morris was a huge part of the Redskins rallying from a 3-6 start to take the NFC East title. Specifically, in a division-clinching, season-ending game against the hated Dallas Cowboys, Morris ran for 200 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries to lead the Redskins to a 28-18 victory.
Morris continued his success the following year. Even as Washington’s fortunes went south, Morris maintained his productive play, running for 1,275 yards and seven touchdowns. He also played in his first Pro Bowl.
Morris suited up for his second Pro Bowl and ran for 1,000 yards for the third straight season in 2014, adding eight touchdowns. Yet, the Redskins were a team in transition, now with a new coach in Jay Gruden. Morris had been a Mike Shanahan player, and it wasn’t clear what impact the switch in offensive philosophies would have for Morris, long-term.
That clarity would arrive in 2015. Morris was again productive, but he failed to reach 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. He ran for 751 yards on a career-low 202 carries. Meanwhile, rookie Matt Jones got 144 carries. Although Morris ran for more yards per carry than Jones, Jones’ total scrimmage yards were almost as high as Morris’ thanks to some long receptions out of the backfield.
Jones’ perceived versatility, and his status as a Gruden guy, sealed Morris’ fate.
The Redskins parted company with Morris prior to the 2016 season, declining to re-sign him. He quickly struck a deal with the Cowboys, but, unfortunately for Morris, Dallas also decided to draft Ezekiel Elliott later that summer. Elliott’s rookie season, in which he put up numbers very similar to Morris’ debut year, relegated Morris to permanent back-up status (excluding injuries or suspensions, of course).
Ironically, Matt Jones didn’t pan out in DC, and the Redskins haven’t been able to find a reliable primary back since Morris left town. Even though Morris played for the Redskins for just four seasons, he left an unquestionable mark on the franchise.
Morris is in the top five all-time in franchise history for rushing yards and is ranked seventh in rushing touchdowns. As noted above, he also holds the single-season rushing record.
He totaled 4,713 yards in 64 games for the Redskins, scoring 29 touchdowns. He added 365 receiving yards to top 5,000 scrimmage yards overall with Washington in his four years there. He fumbled only 11 times in 1,078 carries. He also has the highest yards-per-carry figure (4.4) of any Redskin with at least 500 carries.
Morris was an outstanding performer who perhaps left too soon. But his excellent play, his humility, and his rapport with fans and stadium staff make Morris a worthy addition to the Redskins all-time list.
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