Although Shanahan didn’t let many people in on the secret, Morris was Shanahan’s starter from day one of training camp. “I looked at him and thought, ‘Hey, he brings us something we haven’t had,’ ” Shanahan said. “I’ve seen it before.”
Former league MVP Terrell Davis and two-time 1,000-yard rusher Mike Anderson were also once-obscure sixth-rounders who ran to NFL success under Shanahan. Morris, whose leg power is evidenced by his ability to squat 645 pounds, has rushed for at least 100 yards in the past three games. He ranks third in the NFL with 1,235 yards rushing.
The Post Sports Live crew put themselves in Mike Shanahan’s shoes and debate whether the Redskins head coach should start a less-than-100% Robert Griffin III over backup quarterback Kirk Cousins this week in Cleveland.
“It’s pretty safe to say Coach Shanahan reminded everyone he knows how to find great running backs,” center Will Montgomery said.
It seems Shanahan also may have done well in picking the No. 2 quarterback, though few in the media thought so at the time.
Shanahan was ripped by Redskins observers for using a fourth-rounder to select Cousins when the Redskins had so many other needs and already had picked Griffin. If everything played out as planned with Griffin, Cousins’s biggest contribution would be holding a clipboard, critics said; another rookie quarterback was a luxury the Redskins couldn’t afford.
“That wasn’t my thinking,” Shanahan said. “You have to . . . realize how important that quarterback position is. So often, when we see a quarterback go down, the team doesn’t have a chance because they don’t have a competent quarterback at No. 2. If you see a guy who’s there in the fourth round, and you believe that he can be a top-notch quarterback, you don’t hesitate. . . . At least I don’t.”
Shanahan’s thinking made sense Sunday after Griffin was injured and Cousins delivered an 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Pierre Garcon, and then ran for a tying two-point conversion with 29 seconds remaining in regulation. If Griffin’s knee doesn’t cooperate, Cousins will make his first career start against the Cleveland Browns this Sunday. With as many chances as the competitive Griffin takes while running, Cousins figures to get more opportunities in the future.
“Maybe some other people were surprised by how Kirk handled himself, but I wasn’t,” Shanahan said. “That’s why I got him. These are the kind of guys you want on your football team.”
Shanahan’s football team is making him look better each week. And if this keeps up, it may turn out Shanahan was the right guy for the Redskins after all.
For previous columns by Jason Reid, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.