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Need to Know: Is the door open for Alfred Morris to return to the Redskins?

Feb 25, 2016, 5:35 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 25, 13 days before the start of NFL free agency.

Is the door open for an Alfred Morris return?

—They will be paying close attention to running backs in Indianapolis but the need may not be a great when the draft rolls around as it seems to be now. McCloughan previously left the door for a return of Alfred Morris open a crack; Jay Gruden pushed it open a little bit more yesterday. “There’s not one negative thing I can say about him as a player and person,” Gruden said. He said that a return is “not a long shot”. I’ll believe it when I see it—I think the Redskins want a more dynamic player as their lead dog—but I get the feeling that if Gruden had his druthers Morris would be back.

—Don’t fall for talk of a player “shooting up the draft boards” after running a fast 40-yard dash, at least not as far as the Redskins are concerned. Scot McCloughan will throw that into the pile of data for evaluation of a player but as the draft gets closer that gaudy time will get buried underneath film evaluations and the results of character investigations. It might be a tiebreaker at some point but a run in what McCloughan derisively calls “pajamas” isn’t going to substantially alter where the Redskins might consider drafting the player.

—The Redskins’ first- and second-round picks are the only ones that are set at this point. As you know, the first rounder is No. 21 overall. The second-round pick falls at No. 53. Since they had the same record as the Texans they will alternate picking ahead of each other with the Redskins getting the 21st pick in even-numbered rounds and the 22nd in odd-numbered rounds. Among the active players drafted 53rd are Packers receiver Davante Adams, Bills running back LeSean McCoy, and Redskins defensive end Stephen Paea (picked by the Bears). I’d have to think that McCloughan would love to get a receiver like Adams, who played well as a rookie but battled injuries last year, or a back like McCoy with that pick.

—The Redskins currently have eight picks, one in each round plus an extra seventh. It seems very likely that McCloughan will do some dealing and move down for extra picks. I’ll establish the over/under on the number of picks the Redskins end up with at 10 in this draft and one in the bank for 2017.

—I get the impression that for a lot of teams, including the Redskins, the combine is more about eliminating players from their draft boards than it is about positioning players and really deciding what players deserve further study. You aren’t going to draft a player because he passes the medical part with flying colors but McCloughan will eliminate someone if it looks like that ankle fracture that ended a player’s sophomore season could cause problems down the road. He’s not going to talk to a player for the five to ten minutes allotted for interviews and decide he’s a top 100 pick but he could quickly find out that a player won’t fit in with the culture they are trying to establish.


—The Redskins last played a game 46 days ago. It will be about 199 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 13; 2016 NFL draft 63

In case you missed it

  1. garg8050 - Feb 25, 2016 at 5:50 AM

    I don’t see it happening. Morris just doesn’t fit the new blocking scheme and yards after contact continue to trend down.

    • troylok - Feb 25, 2016 at 6:01 AM

      Agreed, but there is something to be said about having that veteran on the roster that will first “do no harm”. Morris doesn’t fumble a lot, he picks up his blocks pretty well on blitzes and he is a veteran presence in the locker room. That’s nothing to ignore.

      Frankly, the best thing Morris could do for his career is return to an offense that features one cut runners. Atlanta and Denver are both places where Morris could rejuvenate his career.

      • colorofmyskinz - Feb 25, 2016 at 6:30 AM

        I loved Morris in the past for sure. But have to diagree about his ability to pick up blitz. That is the one area he really struggles with. His pass protection is close to non existent. And if it were good, he would most likely be coming back.

        Jone is a blitz picking up machine. Compared to our past helu 3rd down back, completely different. Morris is not good blocking, not good pass protecting, and not good catching. What kept him on the roster was he yards-after-first-contact. And that stat plummeted. If he should his past ability to get yards after first contact, he would still be here this year and we would not be having this discussion.

  2. garg8050 - Feb 25, 2016 at 7:29 AM

    Looked to me like Morris lost his vision and ability to make a cut at the right time. He was guessing where the crease was and not reading the blocks. And that was totally not the case in the stretch scheme.

  3. 214hof - Feb 25, 2016 at 7:33 AM

    I like Morris, and I kinda want the Skins to go defense round one… But if Zek is there at 21, I hope Washington sets the record for fastest card turned in.

    • 214hof - Feb 25, 2016 at 7:44 AM

      If this kid isn’t a McC pick, idk what is.
      I just hope he makes it to 21, the Skins offense would be pretty potent WITH a run game… Not sure how you pass on him if he’s there even with needs on D, this guy would be BPA.

      • colorofmyskinz - Feb 25, 2016 at 8:18 AM

        Wow great flick and great kid!! Would spend a pick on him in a heartbeat!

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Feb 25, 2016 at 8:49 AM

        I guess we’ll be picking our new NT at 21.

        But if we picked E.E., I would not be sad at all.

      • Trey Gregory - Feb 25, 2016 at 9:49 AM

        I’m not going to be upset if they take him, but if he’s as good as you think he is, he shouldn’t be around at 21. I would personally rather continue to build our lines. I wouldn’t be upset if they spent all the first and second round picks there for the foreseeable future. When you have strong lines, you can have lesser players behind them and still get a lot of production.

        In 2016, a first round running back just seems more like a luxury than anything else. Something a team can do if they feel they’re close, but could use a bigger playmaker in the backfield. There’s just too much value in the later rounds for these guys. For every Todd Gurly there’s a couple Jeremy Langfords or David Johnsons. Also, for every Todd Gurly there’s a Trent Richardson or Melvin Gordon. And before you say something like, “yeah but he’s a sure thing.” Try to remember the hype around both of those guys. They were locks too.

        Skilled position players seem harder to project out of college these days. For a bunch of reasons we don’t need to get into. I would just rather get a top-tear defensive tackle or ILB at that spot.

        • bangkokben - Feb 25, 2016 at 10:07 AM

          Agreed. The same folks that want Zeek are the ones who like to chirp, “defense wins championships” in January.

        • 214hof - Feb 25, 2016 at 11:38 AM

          I also want Washington to add talent to the D, as I said… But Zek is the kinda guy I could see the Skins pulling the trigger on if he is sitting there at 21. I actually think he’ll be the first back off the board… But where he goes is more question. I don’t think a RB will be taken in the top 15 so that means Zek only needs to last 6 more picks. Is that so far fetched? Someone could trade up for him or he could be sitting there at 21.

      • Mr.moneylover - Feb 25, 2016 at 12:15 PM

        I doubt redskins will draft a RB this year…I think they going defense the first three rounds…defense wins championships they gotta sure up that area fast

  4. bk70 - Feb 25, 2016 at 7:47 AM

    IMO Alfred Morris needs to get a new contract with the Redskins. He is a worthy stable running back with a lot of character. He spent most of the 2015 season looking over his shoulder expecting another running back to come in.
    I think there was too much confusion on how to test the other backs during the season and the constantly changing OL due to injuries. I’m sure the real number 46 will return with the passion from 2012 with a stable OL.

    • sidepull - Feb 25, 2016 at 8:40 AM

      Yea bk70 we are probably the only hangers on that think that. Maybe now Gruden thinks its a possibility there is glimmer of hope for us Alf fans. He came out with a chip on his shoulder last season before fading. I dont think the Redskins are better off without him. Some team will give him a shot, Seattle, Denver, Atlanta, even the Pats may give him a look. One thing is for sure, I do not believe for a second he will return for peanuts if he can get more in the FA market. They will let him test I guess and we will see. Hes not gone yet. I mean think about it, they are not even high on DY. That whole combo, DY, Alf, they could flush. Shame is what it is.

      • bk70 - Feb 25, 2016 at 8:48 AM

        Door is still open…that’s what’s important.

    • Mr.moneylover - Feb 25, 2016 at 10:56 AM

      Alfred morris don’t fit the scheme redskins need running backs that’s shifty Alfred morris is a down hill running back and thats why he struggle not only this year but last year as well…they gonna let Alfred morris test free agency and I expect somebody gonna pick him up…might be a good person but do fit what the redskins tryna do

    • Tony Atkinson - Feb 25, 2016 at 12:06 PM

      I agree…Morris is better than what was seen last year…and mostly falls on the coaching because of the way they tried to make Kirk Cousins into a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady type of quarterback by throwing the ball a lot…Morris has proven himself even though he has yet to have consecutive games with 20 or more touches…he is the type of back if you get him the ball often and early the defense will be worn down in the 4th quarter…and by the way the offensive line was horrible on the run…to busy blocking for Kirk…

      • Rich Tandler - Feb 25, 2016 at 12:21 PM

        Sorry, but “Alfred wears down defenses” is a myth. His average per carry is by far the lowest in the fourth quarter He’s done some good thinks but no need to perpetuate the myth.

  5. abanig - Feb 25, 2016 at 9:02 AM

    Of course it is everyone in the organization has said that all along, but expect him to be a back up

  6. smotion55 - Feb 25, 2016 at 10:40 AM

    I would welcome Alf back to compete for a roster spot but feel he would be a better fit in a zone running system and will most likely get a little better offer from one of those teams after the combine and when free agency gets into full swing later next month. I would take Elliott also, big and fast, he can catch to, . It sure is nice to have a 1st round pick again and a competent GM in place.

  7. Mr.moneylover - Feb 25, 2016 at 10:48 AM

    I doubt Alfred morris would return…I love scot m. When he talks about the organization… “He said I would to sign kirk cousins to a long term deal but there’s other 52 guys that need to get sign or get extension because one guy is not gonna win you every game” “I’m not gonna mess up the franchise by over paying one guy”…..the sleeper QB who I like the redskins to draft is Vernon Adams hes very smart and might be short but his hands is the same size as Russell Wilson I’m hoping redskins pick him up in like the fourth round if he’s available

    • sidepull - Feb 25, 2016 at 12:50 PM

      I heard that comment as well money and it did my heart good.

    • Trey Gregory - Feb 27, 2016 at 12:25 AM

      I think maybe you’re reading too into that comment. It’s all posturing at this point. No GM or coach tells the coach tells the truth this time of year. It’s all PR BS. I kind of doubt Gruden even really wants Morris back.

      But of course McCloughan is going to say something like that. He’s in the middle of a big negotiation with Cousins. He’s not going to say, “I’ll give him whatever he wants,” even if that’s true. But I don’t believe, for a single second, that McCloughan is going to let Cousins walk. It’s very likely that Cousins gets franchised tagged. That’s pretty damn close to breaking the bank. Then we get to play this game again next offseason.

      I’m just saying, I’m happy with McCloughan too, but that comment didn’t seem sincere to me. I’ll be absolutely floored and shocked if McCloughan lets Cousins walk. And Cousins had zero reason to take a lesser deal.

  8. Mr.moneylover - Feb 25, 2016 at 10:52 AM

    Redskins might target Doug martin if Tampa bay don’t resign him.. he fit the redskins system prefect and redskins will have a running game finally…but I still don’t know if Chris Thompson is a reliable third down back

  9. Mr.moneylover - Feb 25, 2016 at 10:59 AM

    Jason Hatcher just need to go…he’s old he’s only good for us for two games they need to cut him

  10. Tony Atkins - Feb 25, 2016 at 12:30 PM

    How quick we forget that Morris was a thousand yard rusher until Gruden came in…and that was with a sorry offensive line…the line was a little better this year before Lauvo went out…but the focus from the beginning of preseason was strictly on the QB…and we saw the outcome on that…rookie lineman missed a block which seems like on purpose and rg3 loses his job…Kirk didn’t win the starting position it was giving to him…to me before Gruden came in the redskins problem was stoping the run game and protecting the QB…they protected the QB against weaker teams…but it’s still the same…except the fact that the run blocking is worst than ever…Matt jones is good but runs without control…Chris Thompson is a speed back who should be used in many versitle ways…Morris is that back that’s good for one thing and that’s running strait into the defense mouth and making them weak…so when the 4th quarter come they start arm tackling…by the way I like Kirk…but I want to see how good he can be next year against teams over 500…if he doesn’t do well they will be looking for another QB…that’s redskins way…impatient but we as fans stay patient waiting for our year for bragging rights about a Super Bowl victory…httr…

  11. Tony Atkinson - Feb 25, 2016 at 12:37 PM

    Only reason Morris numbers be down in the fourth because the redskins are usually down in the fourth…can’t run when you trying to save time…

    • bangkokben - Feb 25, 2016 at 1:11 PM

      There are plenty of reasons for yards per carry to be down in the fourth quarter. Bigger runs early on. Take the game against the Ravens a few years ago. Morris opened with back-to-back +20 yarders. That’s going to skew your average per quarter. Then there are the types of runs called when trying to salt away a victory (virtually no opportunity for these to even be called in 2014). A better question is what is his success rate in the fourth quarter? That I don’t know but his success rate has gone down each year. According to Football Outsiders it was 39% last year or 44th out of 44 backs who had at least 100 carries last year. Incidentally, Jones had a success rate of 46% (same as Morris’ 1st year with Gruden) which was 23rd but Jones was also last (44th) in both DVAR and DVOA. Morris was 42nd in DVAR and 41st in DVOA. That kind of consistency of failure along with Morris’ past success suggests it was more than just the backs. Jones, however, was 16th in DVAR and 3rd in DVOA when it comes to receiving (minimum of 25 passes).

  12. bangkokben - Feb 25, 2016 at 2:08 PM

    Cool. The $13.8M and the $16.1 and we’re close to $30M before getting started.

  13. CavemanCatching - Feb 25, 2016 at 2:15 PM

    Not sure AF sticks around. That said, I just finished my first mock draft … a 5 rounder. This is what the Skins ended up with:

    21: R1P21

    53: R2P22

    84: R3P21

    121: R4P22

    158: R5P19


  14. kenlinkins - Feb 25, 2016 at 2:41 PM

    IMO Morris will not be a good fit in Washington and will be offered more money by a team that runs the read option as a base offense sub-set and not just as a shock to counter DE’s who are good pass rushers. As for Elliot, IMO he might be just what the Redskins require but he is a bit immature, not great on 3rd downs (pass blocking / pass receiving are concerns) and IMO he will not be on the board when the Redskins pick. If he is and guys like Billings, Roberson, Lawson, or even Ragland are still there, I would take one of them. Also, If Elliot is there, IMO some other team should be willing to trade up to get him and that would be the smartest move.

  15. John - Feb 25, 2016 at 3:45 PM

    Yeah, but look at how good Hurley was last year and that was without a QB. Imagine how much better the offense would have been, had he been in DC. And no he did not play against the Skins.

    There will be quite a few D Linemen available in rounds 2 & 3.

    • bangkokben - Feb 25, 2016 at 4:00 PM

      Sure, every team needs an elite back. How’s that working out for Minnesota?How’d it work out in Chicago? 2013: Forte, Jeffery, Marshall, and Cutler. Kansas City has an elite back but won out as soon as he was injured. The Redskins rushing woes have more to do with than just the back. Seattle did well with Lynch and Carolina with Stewart but it was their defense that allowed them to do well with those backs. Seattle hardly missed a beat this past season without Lynch. An elite back is a luxury that this needs to pass on. If Zeke is there at #21, trade the pick to some other sucker.

      • warpath1 - Feb 25, 2016 at 5:26 PM

        a poor run blocking o-line can make an elite back look bad. Ask demarco murry. fix the o-line first. Archives

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