In the coming days, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to have some fun with numbers—Las Vegas style. Each morning, we’ll pick a player or unit that’s expected to make a major impact for the Redskins in 2015, set an over/under and then make our predictions. We encourage you to play along in the comments section below.
Will Alfred Morris thrive in Bill Callahan’s revamped run game?
1,200 yards rushing—Morris’ yardage total has declined in each of his three NFL seasons, dropping from a high of 1,613 as a rookie to 1,275 in 2013 to 1,074 last year.
El-Bashir—Under: While I do expect Morris to remain the Redskins’ No. 1 running back throughout the 2015 season, my gut also tells me rookie Matt Jones will get more work than some are anticipating. After all, there’s a reason he appeared to get more work with the first team than other backups during offseason workouts. As such, I think Morris will end up getting 230-240 carries (his previous low was 265) and gain 1,000-1,100 yards.
Tandler—Over: I agree that Jones will get a fairly substantial workload, perhaps 75-100 carries. But they won’t necessarily come at the expense of Morris. The team had 401 rushing attempts in 2014 and if things fall into place they want to run it more like 500 times this year. That should leave about 275 carries for Morris. He should get his average closer to 4.5 yards per carry (up from 4.1 last year) and that would give him around 1,250 yards.
10.5 rushing touchdowns—Morris scored 13 times as a rookie, seven times as a sophomore and eight times last season.
El-Bashir—Under: I suspect Jones’ presence will take some opportunities away from Morris in the red zone as well. Jones’ versatility and physicality could make him a dangerous player at or near the goal line. As a result, I think Morris will have a tough time topping the eight TDs he scored last year.
Tandler—Under: It seems that NFL coordinators are starting to stack up their defenses against the run in the red zone and daring teams to get into the end zone passing into a crowded, short field. Only two running backs scored double digit touchdowns, DeMarco Murray and Marshawn Lynch, who scored 13 each. I think Morris will come close but if Jones proves to be a viable option in the red zone I think Morris scored eight or nine.
16.5 receptions—Last season, Morris hauled in a career-high 17 receptions. But he was also credited with five drops, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
El-Bashir—Under: Morris is a productive, rugged runner and, at 26 years old, has some good years left in him. But he offers little in the passing game, and I don’t expect that to change. Jones and Chris Thompson/Silas Redd will be the primary pass catchers out of the backfield. I suspect Morris will end up with 10-12 receptions.
Tandler—Over: No, Morris is not going to be Matt Forte coming out of the backfield. But they need to throw it to him a couple of times a game to keep the defense honest. When he holds on to the ball he’s pretty effective; his 9.1 yards per catch average last year is very good for a running back.