ASHBURN When Alfred Morris has a big game, the Washington Redskins have a better passing attack.
When the Redskins are clicking in the passing game, it frees up holes for Morris to run through.
This chicken-or-egg scenario describes the state of Washington’s offense, which is waiting for something to go right with either unit.
So far, Morris has been unable to build on his stellar rookie season. The Redskins are 2-8 when he gets fewer than 20 touches in a game. The most he’s had in a game this year is 16.
“We believe in the running game,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “Usually teams that can run the football have a lot of success. We will always have that philosophy. Hopefully this week we can kind of get back to where we’ve been as far as running the football, the play-action and those types of things.”
While Morris’ numbers are down, his effectiveness is not. He averages 5.3 yards per carry this year, compared to 4.8 yards per carry last year.
Several of the team’s players expressed a desire to run the ball more this week, citing its impact in all areas of the game.
“Alfred is the workhorse in the offense,” receiver Pierre Garcon said. “That gets the whole offense open when he’s running guys over. It gets me amped up, and the whole offense amped up.”
Morris was heading toward 20 carries against Oakland in Week 4, but had to leave with bruised ribs. He said he’ll be back at full strength this Sunday against Dallas.
As for personal frustration with his lack of impact plays, Morris shrugged it off.
“I’m blessed enough to be in the NFL, and I don’t take that for granted,” he said. “Whether I’m getting the ball or not, I love what I do.”
Fullback Darrel Young said Morris doesn’t just talk that way, his actions in the locker room reflect it.
“He’s not that arrogant guy that needs to have the ball,” Young said. “He’s one of the coolest guys that I’ve been around that’s in a superstar role. It’s cool to see that he’s still humble.”
The clock is ticking, though, on the Redskins jump-starting the season.
Washington has a great opportunity to do that over the next few weeks as it faces some of the league’s worst defenses. The Cowboys allow 409 yards per game.
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III said getting Morris going isn’t just useful for the receivers, but it can take heat off the linemen.
“They don’t like to just sit back there and pass block all the time,” Griffin said. “They like to get their feet dirty and their hands dirty in there in the running game.”
Shanahan said the game plan will have an eye toward getting Morris the ball, but some of it is based on game scenarios.
“He can’t dictate how many times he gets the ball,” Shanahan said. “He understands those carries will come, and when they do come, he wants to take advantage of the opportunities.”
Young is counting on Morris to reclaim his form, and thinks the rest of the offense will follow suit.
“At the end of the day, you’ve just got to find what you do best and go with it,” he said. “I think we’ve found that running the ball was successful for us. It opened up the play action, it opened up the deep ball, and we made big plays when we needed to.”
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Time for Redskins’ Morris to feast?
Washington’s next six games are against some of the worst defenses in football:
Note: The Redskins’ defense ranks 32nd, or last, having allowed 441 yards per game.