The show pony of the Washington Redskins offense is Robert Griffin III. The plow horse, however, the one who is arguably a greater threat to the Bears on Sunday, is running back Alfred Morris.
The Redskins won their final seven games last season to reach the postseason. Griffin was outstanding, and Morris was along with four 100-yard games in the last six. When the Dallas Cowboys contained Griffin in game 16, Morris responded with 200 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
While Griffin is cause for serious concern on Sunday, running backs have been the scourge of the Bears in two of the last three games, a disturbing trend for a team committed to and usually good at stopping the run. The Detroit Lions with Reggie Bush had six rushing plays of 10 yards or longer. The Giants also turned in six while pushing the Bears much more than an 0-5 team was expected to.
Those teams both rushed for 100 yards as did the Minnesota Vikings, whom the Bears only beat with a last-second touchdown pass in week two.
If Washington can establish the ability to run Morris on the Bears, Griffin’s effectiveness increases exponentially. With Morris getting no fewer than 20 carries over those final six wins last season, Griffin had just one game with less than a 101.0 passer rating.
This season, Morris has had no more than 16 carries in a game, Griffin has had just one passer rating above 92 and the Redskins are 1-4.
Morris rushed for 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns in his rookie season running behind a Washington line well schooled in the zone blocking style.
“That’s Mike Shanahan’s offense, a running back,” said nose tackle Stephen Paea. “They just happen to have RGIII as a bonus, who’s also a runner. [Morris] was a rookie last year but we’re going to have our hands full.
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“We’ve faced Adrian Peterson and other good running backs. Their offense is pretty much set, with the O-line having ‘tracks’ like running backs. For Morris, he’s pretty good at reading his blocks and breaking tackles. It takes more than one guy to bring him down.”
Why Morris looms ominously up ahead for the Bears is that Shanahan knows how to use a Morris. Shanahan won two Super Bowls with his first “Morris.” That was Terrell Davis, like Morris a sixth-round draft choice who exploded on the NFL.
“I really like Alfred Morris,” said coach Marc Trestman. “I like the fact that here’s a guy who was drafted late in the sixth round, Mike Shanahan again doing what he’s done with so many running backs. I think he’s ‘everybody’s back,’ a guy you’re always for him as a fan… .
“So from a league’s standpoint, he’s everybody’s dream come true in terms of growing up and wanting to play in the league… .He’s not an easy guy to tackle; he’s low to the ground, his pads are down, he runs hard and he’s got enough speed to generate explosive running skills. We’ve got our work cut out for us there.”