[FYI, here’s latest my Bloggingheads banterfest with Bob Wright.]
We’re hitting 2013 in full stride here in the City of Champions, that being a reference to the mighty NFC East Champs, the Washington Redskins, who were led Sunday night by one Alfred Morris, or AlMo, or the A-Train maybe we should call him.
We all love RGIII, and we love London Fletcher, too, and this was a great team effort, but the victory over the Cowboys depended most of all on the man from Florida Atlantic University, the fabled football powerhouse in Boca Raton. [Morris is, among other things, an incredibly humble guy, as Dan Steinberg reports.]
The Skins didn’t need any razzle dazzle. They went back to basics: Run the ball. Run over people. Make them hurt. There is a delicate choreography to a well-executed running play, with the linemen sliding along the line of scrimmage, sequentially leveling the defenders, and the big man finding his seam and making his cut-back and ripping through the defense the way a starving man goes through a Twinkie. Yes, it also helps when the Bad Romo shows up. It helps when you’re playing a warm-weather team in your cold-weather stadium in winter. But this was an old-fashioned demonstration of winning by running.
The modern NFL is pass-happy. It is now routine for a quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a season. In fact, look at the final list here of passing stats for the 2012 season. I count 11 quarterbacks with 4,000-plus yards this year. Drew Brees topped 5,000. Matthew Stafford nearly hit that mark. So did Romo.
This is flag football, friends.
It’s a quarterback-centric league, and nothing’s going to change that, but Sunday night we were briefly back in the 1970s. Partly that’s because Griffin is still visibly slowed by his knee injury. He threw for only 100 yards and spent most of the game handing off to Morris — a wise move.
Just for example, here was the going-ahead drive by the Skins in the 3rd quarter, starting at their own 18 yard line:
Morris runs for 1 yard.
Morris runs for 10 yards.
Morris runs for 5 yards.
Morris runs for 6 yards.
Morris runs for 22 yards.
Griffin passes to Garcon for 18 yards.
Morris runs for minus-3 yards.
Griffin passes to Garcon for 13 yards.
Griffin runs for 10 yards and TOUCHDOWN.
Basically, game over, psychologically. Morris gashed them for 44 yards on
6 5 straight running plays, and that set up the passes and the quarterback run.
Now the Skins play Seattle on Sunday, and I am going to go out on a limb and guess that the coaches are going to do a whole lot more handing off to the man from Florida Atlantic.