“Very few times will he ever lose yardage,” Shanahan said, “because he’s always running downhill [straight ahead].” Shanahan paused and then added, “Also, you either have an innate ability to make people miss or you don’t. He has it.”
To put it kindly, the Redskins’ offensive line isn’t considered to be one of the league’s better units. If the Redskins really aren’t concerned about pass protection, as coaches would have you believe, then that’s a mistake. But the line had good moments in the running game last season (Helu rushed for at least 100 yards in three consecutive games, and Royster had back-to-back weeks of more than 110). Morris should benefit from help up front.
Royster was atop the team’s first depth chart released Monday. Helu was listed second and Morris third. The chart, as it relates to the running backs, is meaningless.
Royster is elusive but lacks Morris’s power. Helu is faster than Morris but hasn’t displayed enough of an ability to make tacklers miss. Morris gives the Redskins a combination they haven’t had in a back under Shanahan. Royster may start against the Saints (Shanahan hasn’t named a starter), and Helu figures to play. Morris also should be heavily in the mix. Early.
With so much pressure on rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Redskins must provide Griffin with as much help as possible. Shanahan needs to determine how good Morris could eventually become. And he needs to find out quickly.
Fortunately for the Redskins, Shanahan has traveled this road with the Denver Broncos.
Davis was one of the most productive backs in postseason history while helping the Broncos win consecutive Super Bowl titles. Sixth-rounder Mike Anderson (also a Shanahan pick in Denver) rushed for 15 touchdowns and almost 1,500 yards as a rookie. Morris is eager to add another chapter to Shanahan’s how-to book for finding productive backs in unlikely places.
“He gets these diamond-in-the-rough types,” Morris said. “People say, ‘Hey, you could be one of them.’ But me just getting drafted was a blessing.
“I came from a 1-11 team last year. I did come from nowhere. How many people know where FAU is? So I definitely feel I represent those low-round draft picks, those undrafted guys, who nobody expects to do anything.”
Thing is, expectations change. Particularly after secrets get out.
For previous columns by Jason Reid, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.