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Alfred Morris and Production Through Three Years

The 2012 OROY and Washington's most productive player from the 2012 draft

The 2012 OROY and Washington’s most productive player from the 2012 draft

Alfred Morris was just a sixth round pick. During his rookie season, he happened to play alongside the eventual offensive rookie of the year. Since then, RG3 has continued to dominate headlines, while Morris continues to plug away without garnering a fraction of the attention. For example, did you know that Morris has now hit the 1,000-yard mark for the third straight season? He’s also rushed for 7 touchdowns each year in his career.

Do you know how many other players have rushed for 1,000 yards and seven scores in each of their first three seasons? Seven: Earl Campbell, Ottis Anderson, Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders, LaDainian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson, and Chris Johnson. That’s five Hall of Fame caliber running backs and Anderson/Johnson, a duo that has combined for nearly 19,000 rushing yards and still counting.

Morris has rushed for 3,919 yards and 27 touchdowns in his career, with one game left in his third season. In addition to the six of the seven players above (Anderson had 26 rushing touchdowns through three years), only five other players have hit those marks through three years: Clinton Portis, Terrell Davis, Emmitt Smith, Edgerrin James, and Walter Payton.

In other words, Morris’ production through three years puts him in in the inner circle of elite running back performance. Of the thirteen running backs mentioned in this post, ten were first round picks. The eleventh was Portis, a player who fell to the second round solely due to concerns about his size and durability. None of the other players were drafted in the second, third, fourth, or fifth rounds; the other two were Morris and Davis, both six round picks under Mike Shanahan.

Morris has been the bell cow for Washington: the team’s number two running back has averaged about 200 rushing yards per season, a pretty stark departure from the current trend of running back by committee.  Still, it seems as though Morris never quite gets his due among NFL observers.  He has averaged 4.54 yards per carry; I’m not a big fan of that metric, but it’s certainly a good number for those who like that stat.  No, the reason Morris tends to be ignored is because he’s a one-dimensional player. And in today’s pass-heavy NFL, that’s a pretty big black mark on the resume.

There have been 144 players who entered the league between 1950 and 2012 and who rushed for at least 2,000 yards in their first three seasons.  Of those, only five had a higher percentage of their yards from scrimmage come on the ground than Morris.

RkRunning BackFromTmAttRush YdYPCTDYdsPerc
1Andra Franklin1981MIA60221583.58221599.3%
2Eddie Price1950NYG58024224.18168596.6%
3Earl Campbell*1978OTI104350814.874518996.4%
4Stevan Ridley2011NWE55524774.462012695.2%
5George Rogers1981NOR75633534.442121693.9%
6Alfred Morris2012WAS84339194.552729193.1%
7Marion Butts1989SDG62827424.372322992.3%
8Antowain Smith1997BUF65925783.912222092.1%
9Errict Rhett1994TAM79227573.482124092%
10Christian Okoye1987KAN63226134.131823291.8%
11LenDale White2006OTI56421273.772219091.8%
12Rueben Mayes1986NOR69928984.151626791.6%
13Jim Brown*1957CLE74937985.074038390.8%
14Mario Bates1994NOR55921143.781722090.6%
15Jonathan Stewart2008CAR58327394.72228990.5%
16Beanie Wells2009CRD53722374.171926989.3%
17William Green2002CLE54820313.71924789.2%
18Natrone Means1993SDG68927253.962534088.9%
19Jim Nance1965NWE67929954.412338288.7%
20Tatum Bell2004DEN48123424.871329988.7%
21Anthony Thomas2001CHI73629283.981937788.6%
22Bobby Humphrey1989DEN59323864.021430888.6%
23Eric Dickerson*1983RAM106151474.854466988.5%
24Eddie George1996OTI104040613.91953688.3%
25Ryan Grant2007GNB78234124.362345888.2%
26Cadillac Williams2005TAM56921843.841029488.1%
27Bo Jackson1987RAI39020845.341128488%
28Fred Lane1997CAR50220013.991327587.9%
29Shonn Greene2009NYJ54623604.321033187.7%
30John Brockington1971GNB75532764.341546987.5%
31Leonard Russell1991NWE68924373.541335087.4%
32Willis McGahee2004BUF86833653.882450387%
33Mike Anderson2000DEN55625514.592138287%
34Willie Parker2004PIT62428824.621745686.3%
35Walter Payton*1975CHI84639214.633463186.1%
36Julius Jones2004DAL72128964.021646986.1%
37Franco Harris*1972PIT58427594.721844986%
38Karim Abdul-Jabbar1996MIA86029683.453250285.5%
39Earnest Jackson1983TOT58922463.811339085.2%
40John Stephens1988NWE75328093.731350184.9%
41Rashard Mendenhall2008PIT58524394.172044584.6%
42Travis Henry2001BUF86935234.052764684.5%
43Adrian Peterson2007MIN91544844.94082984.4%
44Paul Robinson1968CIN54721343.91840784%
45Ricky Bell1977TAM61623783.861445883.9%
46Barry Foster1990PIT52223814.561346383.7%
47Emmitt Smith*1990DAL97942134.34182183.7%
48Harold Green1990CIN50622544.45544083.7%
49Jamal Lewis2000RAV100447574.742694383.5%
50Pete Johnson1977CIN57622123.842543983.4%
51Alan Ameche1955CLT53523124.322246783.2%
52Don Perkins1961DAL57123744.161848683%
53Clinton Portis2002TOT90644144.873491382.9%
54Jerome Bettis1993RAM79630913.881364382.8%
55Corey Dillon1997CIN75834594.561972782.6%
56Terrell Davis1995DEN95144054.633596482%
57Chris Johnson2008OTI92545984.9734100882%
58Fred Taylor1998JAX71533544.693274481.8%
59DeAngelo Williams2006CAR53827335.082360981.8%
60Mike Rozier1985OTI56120813.711546881.6%
61Rick Casares1955CHI56324984.442256481.6%
62Bam Morris1994TOT51821324.122048281.6%
63Napoleon Kaufman1995RAI53026585.02860881.4%
64Ottis Anderson1979CRD96043334.5126100381.2%
65Curtis Martin*1995NWE95837993.973289081%
66Reggie Cobb1990TAM65724033.661856680.9%
67Sammy Winder1982DEN55921693.88852180.6%
68Terry Allen1991MIN64127954.362367580.5%
69Wilbert Montgomery1977PHI64229154.542070780.5%
70Johnny Johnson1990CRD60823263.831556980.3%
71Barry Sanders*1989DET87743224.9343106980.2%
72Chris Brown2003OTI50021394.281153580%
73Curt Warner1983SEA63625834.062165179.9%
74Marshawn Lynch2007BUF650260141766379.7%
75Paul Lowe1960SDG48826325.392567179.7%
76Freeman McNeil1981NYJ44820634.6953079.6%
77Larry Johnson2003KAN47624165.083062379.5%
78Doug Martin2012TAM55222794.131460279.1%
79Tony Collins1981NWE58725544.351867679.1%
80Craig James1984NWE57724444.241064879%
81Nick Pietrosante1959DET43821604.931658478.7%
82Marion Barber2005DAL47721674.542959378.5%
83Gerald Riggs1982ATL53122224.182661178.4%
84Larry Brown1969WAS69229614.281381978.3%
85John Riggins*1971NYJ52121954.211261978%
86Johnny Roland1966CRD54720263.71757977.8%
87Cookie Gilchrist1962BUF67630564.523187577.7%
88Rodney Hampton1990NYG62226554.272677277.5%
89DeMarco Murray2011DAL54226814.951578077.5%
90Michael Bennett2001MIN51724254.69870977.4%
91Dickie Post1967SDG49422944.641667877.2%
92Tony Dorsett*1977DAL74834394.625102677%
93Shaun Alexander2000SEA66828064.23284476.9%
94Frank Gore2005SFO69934054.8716105276.4%
95Kevan Barlow2001SFO47122114.691469076.2%
96Hoyle Granger1966OTI49424304.921476576.1%
97Lawrence McCutcheon1972RAM44622064.95569776%
98Duce Staley1997PHI59023674.01974876%
99Mike Garrett1966KAN54724524.481879575.5%
100Kevin Mack1985CLE59725044.192281275.5%
101Delvin Williams1974SFO40120355.071366275.5%
102Kevin Jones2004DET60824864.091680975.4%
103Deuce McAllister2001NOR69231204.5122103475.1%
104Joseph Addai2006CLT64226974.22489575.1%
105Ryan Mathews2010SDG56424764.391485274.4%
106LaDainian Tomlinson2001SDG102445644.4637158174.3%
107Ricky Williams1999NOR81431293.8416109274.1%
108Edgerrin James1999CLT90739244.3329137374.1%
109Jamaal Charles2008KAN48729446.0512103774%
110Ronnie Brown2005MIA56725174.441389773.7%
111Mike Thomas1975WAS71728263.9412101873.5%
112Gale Sayers*1965CHI58129785.1329108073.4%
113Chuck Muncie1976NOR51020273.971575372.9%
114Joe Cribbs1980BUF69729154.1817111772.3%
115Domanick Williams2003HTX77031954.1523127671.5%
116LeSean McCoy2009PHI63530264.7728121571.4%
117Steven Jackson2004RAM73432474.4225131571.2%
118Thurman Thomas*1988BUF77634224.4119140970.8%
119Ken Willard1965SFO54920513.741584670.8%
120William Andrews1979ATL79336324.5817150070.8%
121Billy Sims1980DET78133794.3330141470.5%
122Greg Bell1984BUF57523604.11999570.3%
123C.J. Spiller2010BUF38820885.381088570.2%
124Arian Foster2009HTX65930974.729131470.2%
125Matt Snell1964NYJ56223554.1913100370.1%
126Trent Richardson2012TOT60620203.331789569.3%
127Matt Forte2008CHI81132363.9918149568.4%
128Tony Reed1977KAN44520044.5896067.6%
129Marshall Faulk*1994CLT80129473.6829142567.4%
130Terry Metcalf1973CRD46521624.6517107166.9%
131Ray Rice2008RAV66830134.5112153166.3%
132Ricky Watters1992SFO65328404.3525145066.2%
133Darren McFadden2008RAI44020134.5812103766%
134Warrick Dunn1997TAM66426203.956139565.3%
135Sherman Smith1976SEA44721054.7114116964.3%
136Maurice Jones-Drew2006JAX53025334.7834140864.3%
137Billy Cannon1960OTI49920664.1414122462.8%
138Ted Brown1979MIN62325264.0515151462.5%
139Marcus Allen*1982RAI70128794.1133174962.2%
140Abner Haynes1960KAN55627654.9731170761.8%
141Chuck Foreman1973MIN66126484.0126163961.8%
142Herschel Walker1986DAL72131424.3624205760.4%
143Joe Washington1977TOT54420573.784137160%
144Roger Craig1983SFO54524244.4524211853.4%

Of those five players, one was a fullback with just 2,158 rushing yards through three years, one began his career in 1950, and a third was Stevan Ridley (I’m not quite sure what to do with him). The fourth and fifth were a Hall of Famer and George Rogers, a Hall of Fame caliber player and Heisman Trophy winner who had his career cut short by injuries.

And that brings us to #6 on the list in Morris.  The Washington back doesn’t quite have the raw talent of a Campbell or Rogers, and is too one-dimensional to stand out in today’s game. But given all the mess in Washington, it’s worth pointing out the quiet production of a player who has gone under-appreciated.

  • ferrhis

    Alfred Morris only scored 7 rushing touchdowns in 2013. You need to revise your article. Thanks!

  • I honestly was skeptical about Morris’ ability to succeed apart from Kyle Shanahan’s scheme. Not necessarily because he isn’t a good runner (having to watch Washington every week because of my wife shows me how good he is), but because I was worried Gruden’s line schemes wouldn’t work with so many leftovers from the Shanahan era. It seems to me that Morris has succeeded this year largely in spite of the rest of the team around him. Not flashy, but the guy gets yards and falls forward.

  • JJ

    You left out Terrell Davis in your second paragraph. I’m almost positive he rushed for 1000 yds & seven TDs in his first three seasons. Just an FYI. I enjoyed the article!