While many fantasy football “experts” preached that they expected a drop off from Alfred Morris this year, none expected it to be caused by game situations. The expected statistical correction was supposed to be because of his limited talent and the fact that Robert Griffin III would be the focal point of the offense, if he was healthy. Alfred Morris has 56 carries for 296 yards and 2 touchdowns through the first four games of the Redskins’ season. That’s good for a 5.3 average and he has even had (3) 20+ yard runs which is better than Doug Martin, Arian Foster, and Jamal Charles combined. The main thing holding Alfred Morris back from being a sophomore fantasy star is the the Washington Redskins’ horrid defense.
In fantasy terms the Redskins are close to as bad as it gets on defense. They give up the 4th most fantasy points to QBs, RBs, and WRs. That’s hard to do. They are literally horrible at every level. Even the old stalwart London Fletcher finds himself not being able to play like his old self. As of today Fletcher is rated 49th out of 50 rated ILBs by Pro Football Focus. The news doesn’t get much better when you talk about the guys that are supposed to be protecting Fletcher as Kedric Golston and Stephen Bowen are rated 38th and 42nd respectively out of 44 defensive ends by Pro Football Focus.
The fact that the Redskins have been down a combined 81-31 at the half through their first four games is a huge reason that Alfred Morris has not been able to get the touches in the running game. His high carry total of 16 carries is not what you’re looking for from a non-pass catching RB1. Nobody was buying Morris as a PPR monster, but he used to make up the difference by rushing the ball at least 20 times a game. From watching the tape you could see that Morris isn’t even trusting his running instincts as he tries to make a big play when his old down-hill running self would have made a solid run.
For example- Early in the first quarter against the Raiders, the Redskins had a chance at a big play in the running game. What you can’t see in the picture is that the Raiders had rolled the strong safety up to blitz on the strong side of the formation. The free safety is 20+ yards deep and the middle of the defense is exposed. The Redskins run a zone/stretch to the weak side and should be able to find a hole in the middle.
Alfred Morris presses the weak side and looks for a cut back lane from the Center’s right butt cheek and out. Logan Paulsen is able handle his defensive end one on one and keep him from squeezing down. A huge hole develops off the right side of the offensive line.
Morris’s eyes drift toward breaking it all the way back to the back side of the play instead of continuing to run down hill and hit the huge chasm that develops on the right side of the line. This play was helped by some very poor linebacker play by the Raiders as the SAM backer gets frozen by looking in the backfield at RG3.
When Morris finally sees the hole he tries to cut back to the middle of the field, but trips over his tight end and is stopped for a four yard gain. Instead of a first and ten at around mid-field you end up in a third and long. I believe this is an example of Morris pressing to make plays in the running game because he knows he is not going to get as many chances as he did last year.
RG3 has not helped matters by misfiring as a passer early in games. He is both shaky as a passer and a runner so far this season early in games. Another example of Griffin’s rust showed up early in the Raiders game.
RG3 lines up in the pistol with the fullback lined up to the weakside of the formation. The Redskins run a zone read with RG3 reading the SAM backer. If the backer ducks under the block of the fullback to take Morris RG3 keeps the ball and runs around the vacated space. If the backer comes up the field then he can give the ball to Morris for a big gainer.
The SAM backer takes Morris and RG3 has a chance to run the ball. So far so good as the blocking is excellent by the LT and TE.
Here’s where I have a problem with RG3 the QB right now. The play works to perfection, but it still needs to be executed. Griffin pulls the ball and immediately breaks for the sideline without looking at the vacated area of the backer. If he did, he would have seen that his fullback has leverage on his block and he would have an easy eight yards before he is touched. Instead of running through a hole big enough to fit a tractor-trailer he decides to run to the outside. I’m not sure he has great instincts as a runner (runningback instincts, not track instincts), but last year he would have turned this up the field. I think he is a little afraid to get into the danger areas.
I also see this as a quarterback who is trying to do too much. The entire organization is relying on him. The defense that the Redskins put on the field each and every week puts this young quarterback in a very difficult situation. If the Redskins could find a way to stick to the running game and not put so much pressure on Griffin I think they could get back to their league leading ways, but if the defense continues to get gashed this offense will not be able to put up the fantasy football numbers we all expected. I still like both Morris and Griffin long term, but game flow is going to continue to be a big hindrance on their fantasy output.