Redskins Positional Overview: Running backs
July 27, 2014 in Redskins Personnel
Starters: Alfred Morris, Darrel Young
-In two seasons Alfred Morris has amassed 2,888 yards and 20 TD's, and has been one of the best backs in the league during this time. While some might try to point to his drop of nearly 350 yards of production from his rookie year to 2nd season, that had little to do with the way Morris was playing. Due to the Redskins struggles they were playing from behind in a number of games and Morris's carries dropped by 59, which accounted for most of the production drop-off. Morris averaged a very good 4.6 yards per carry (tied for 4th most among backs with 200 or more carries) last season and finished 4th in total yards. What's even more impressive is the fact that Morris was able to succeed even though teams weren't nearly concerned with RGIII running the football last season, and the complete lack of a consistent passing game. Even when defenses knew Morris was getting the football they rarely were able to stop him consistently. Morris has proven himself to be a workhorse back and capable of carrying an offense. The one concern with Morris is he's not much of a receiving threat. While it would be nice if he was more of a dual threat back, his rushing ability is enough to keep him in the top tier of backs. He has a chance to be even more potent this year with a hopefully healthy RGIII, an improved passing attack and some improvements along the offensive line. Barring injury there is little reason to think that Morris can't once again be among the league's top backs in rushing this season.
Darrel Young doesn't show up on the stat sheet (directly at least), but he too is among the best at his position in the NFL. Fullback isn't as glamorous, or a full time position like running back, but Young has shown himself to be one of the better ones in the league. What Young really has going for him is his versatility. Most fullbacks are only good in one area, but Young excels as a blocker and has shown value (in limited work) as a short yardage runner and receiver out of the backfield. Where Young really shows up in his lead blocking ability for Morris. That was made pretty evident last year when Young missed three games and Morris had 3 of his worst rushing performances of his promising career. How much Young exactly plays will be interesting to watch, but with him in there you know it is a positive for the Redskins offense.
Back-ups: Roy Helu Jr., Lache Seastrunk, Evan Royster, Chris Thompson
-Roy Helu Jr. has been a steady back for the Redskins and is a solid back-up option to Alfred Morris. He's probably the best back on the team as a pass blocker and has proven himself to be a capable receiver as well. If Morris were to go down with injury, Helu would still be able to offer a quality rushing threat in the Redskins offense. Lache Seastrunk was a 6th round rookie for the Redskins, but his potential is to be a nice situational contributor to this offense (also possibly a returner as well). He's not likely to wrestle 3rd down duties away from Helu, but he could be seen as a home run hitter who is used sparingly as a change of pace back. Evan Royster is the type of back who doesn't do anything particularly well, but he's smart enough, tough enough and a hard worker, so he will always be in the discussion for a roster spot. He has an uphill climb this season, but hes' not a guy who should be counted out. Chris Thompson was drafted last year to be the change of pace/home run hitter back, but injuries limited him drastically. While he has tantalizing speed and quickness, his lack of size and him having three straight seasons ended early by injury makes him an unlikely option at this point.
Season Outlook: Great to Elite
-If Alfred Morris, Darrel Young and Roy Helu Jr. stay healthy, the Redskins should at least have a Great backfield. If they can get some extra value from a guy like Seastrunk that would give them another dimension to their offense, this unit could really be considered Elite. This is a good place for the Redskins to be and hopefully they won't be forced to abandon the run early in games this season, limiting the impact this top tier talent can bring to this team.