Alfred Morris showed what he could do against NFL backups in the Redskins preseason opener in Buffalo.On Saturday night, Coach Mike Shanahan wanted to see what the rookie could do against another teams starters.The reviews were, well, mixed.On the Redskins first play, Morris displayed the one-cut, north-south style that complements Shanahans zone blocking scheme. After a sudden change of direction at the line of scrimmage, Morris burst through the left side and into the secondary for a 21-yard gain. On the next play, Morris ripped off six yards, this time running off the right tackle.It was a stellar start to an outing that ended rather quietly against a stout Bears defense that featured seven-time Pro Bowler Julius Peppers. Morris, a 5 foot 10, 218-pound Florida Atlantic product, finished with 34 yards on 10 carries four yards fewer than he had after his first five carries.I definitely could have played better, said Morris, who did not play in the second half. But it could have been a whole lot worse. I feel I did good overall.Morris was informed Friday by running backs coach Bobby Turner that he would be getting the first start of his young NFL career. With Tim Hightower still recovering from knee surgery and Roy Helu Jr. sidelined with tendinitis in his Achilles tendon, Shanahan wanted to see how Morris would fare against the likes of Peppers, Lance Briggs and Israel Idonije.If youre in the 90, youre in the competition to make the football team, Shanahan said when asked if Morris has a legit chance of claiming the Redskins No. 1 tailback job. I dont have guys out there just to be out there. We started Alfred today, and the reason we started him is that we wanted to see him against a really good defense and against a good unit.After gaining 38 yards on the Redskins first two series, Morris and the rest of the Redskins offense the patchwork line, in particular struggled. Morris was limited to minus-4 yards on his next five carries. Peppers and Idonije each thwarted him for no gain, while strong safety Major Wright dropped him for a two-yard loss and linebacker Blake Costanzo stopped him for three-yard setback.I dont think they made an adjustment; it was just a few things we were missing, Morris said. They have some great d-linemen and they were getting some penetration in the backfield, and that didnt help at all.Morris also accepted the blame for going out for a pass rather than staying home to block on the play where quarterback Robert Griffin III was sacked and fumbled.I had a blitzing safety that I misread, Morris said.As Morris acknowledged, his first NFL start could have been more productive. But also managed to remain philosophical about the steep learning curve hes facing.Life is a lesson, he said. You live and you learn.
Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 15, 11 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.
The best teams the Redskins will face in 2018
This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Most of the focus will be on individuals such as quarterbacks and pass rushers, but we’re going to get started with the best teams on the schedule. These are roughly ranked by Football Outsiders’ DVOA, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors.
1. Eagles (13-3, Super Bowl champs)—They were fifth overall in DVOA and the second-ranked team on the schedule. But DVOA is calculated for the regular season only and you have to say that by the time the playoffs were over that the Eagles had taken their game up a few notches over everyone else. They haven’t lost much over the offseason, putting them at the top of the heap and the Redskins play them twice.
2. Saints (11-5, lost in divisional round)—New Orleans was the top team in DVOA in 2017. After a couple of mediocre seasons, the Saints have retooled, and they will make a push to get Drew Brees his second Super Bowl ring. They play in Week 5, which means that Mark Ingram will be back from his four-game suspension to open the season and he will be alongside Alvin Kamara in the Saints backfield. They both had over 100 yards from scrimmage when the teams played last year.
3. Jaguars (10-6, lost AFC title game)—They finally made the jump after failing for the last few years as the trendy preseason pick. It was no fluke as they outscored their opponents by 149 points on the season. Their quarterback situation is far from ideal with Blake Bortles, but they are strong enough defensively (first in defensive DVOA) to rely on their running game.
4. Panthers (11-5, lost in wild-card round)—They certainly have had the Redskins’ number, winning the last six matchups, a streak going back to 2009. This doesn’t seem to be one of those fluke situations. The Redskins simply have problems matching up with Cam Newton. Carolina also is solid defensively (No. 7 in DVOA).
5. Falcons (10-6, lost in divisional round)—Even though the Cowboys ranked a couple of notches ahead of the Falcons in DVOA, I’m putting the Falcons ahead of them. Dallas doesn’t have a good enough defense to win with their running game. I’ve always been a big Matt Ryan fan and a lot more people would be too if he hadn’t been victimized by poor defense and bad play calling in the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. Add in Julio Jones and their running backs and you have a scary offense. Defensively they are not that good but I still like their unit better than that of the Cowboys.
Rest of top 10:
6. Packers—Almost put them ahead of Falcons, their DVOA suffered last year with Rodgers out.
7. Cowboys—Even with problems on D, still have the Redskins’ number.
8. Texans—Way down the DVOA rankings last year but they will the tough with J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson back.
9. Titans—I’m not sure if they’re ready to take the next step up but they will be hard to beat.
10. Bucs—The bolstered a defense that already with tough with Jason Pierre-Paul and Vita Vea.
Tandler on Instagram
—Training camp starts (7/26) 11
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 25
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 48
The Redskins last played a game 196 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 56 days.
In case you missed it
Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 14, 12 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.
The Redskins week that was
Is Junior Galette hinting at a possible return to the Redskins? I would be very surprised if Galette ever wears a Redskins uniform again although it would make sense for them to talk to him. I think the Redskins should be very nervous about their depth at outside linebacker. Pernell McPhee can get them some pressure, but he has missed 10 games over the last two seasons. Ryan Anderson’s next NFL sack will be his first. You can’t have too many pass rushers; the Redskins could well find themselves in a spot where they don’t have enough.
Upside outweighed risk in Redskins' selection of Alexander—The selection of Adonis Alexander wasn’t quite a no-brainer, but it was not a tough call for the Redskins to make. Torrian Gray, who recruited and coached Alexander at Virginia Tech, gave the green light so it came down to his potential and what draft pick they were willing to give up. They have two in the fifth round next year and they had three in the sixth. They might as well get one of those late Saturday afternoon picks in a year early and see what they have. We have more analysis of the Alexander pick here and here.
If Guice is legitimate, the Redskins running game could explode—With the exception of the 2012-2013 seasons, when quarterback Robert Griffin III was kicking in a lot of yards on the ground, the Redskins have not been in the top 10 in the league in rushing yards since 2008. Derrius Guice could help change that. Read the post for my in-depth look at the running back position.
Madden has a clear answer for the Alex Smith-Kirk Cousins debate—I don’t know much about Madden ratings, so I don’t have a lot to add here. It doesn’t look to me like the difference between the ratings of Smith and Cousins constitute and “clear” advantage but, again, what do I know?
Instagram post of the week
Joe Jacoby belongs in the Hall of Fame. If you’re reading this, I think you know that.
—Training camp starts (7/26) 12
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 26
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 54
The Redskins last played a game 195 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 57 days.
In case you missed it