Despite playing behind the Dallas Cowboys talented offensive line, one former running back predicts less success in Dallas for the newly signed Alfred Morris.
Although the Dallas Cowboys have been relatively quiet during free agency, the Cowboys front office made a minor splash last week when they signed former Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris to a two-year, $3.5 million deal.
The move was seen as a positive one for the Cowboys, as they landed the two-time Pro Bowler for a modest contract amount while securing a position of need at the same time. But the 27-year old Morris is coming off his worst season as a professional, recording 751 rushing yards and one touchdown in 2015 while averaging a career-low 3.7 yards per carry.
While most seem to think that Morris will experience a career resurgence behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, one former running back-turned-media analyst for NFL.com actually thinks the veteran back will be less successful in Dallas.
"“Morris had a career-low yards in a season last year after splitting carries with Matt Jones and the emergence of quarterback Kirk Cousins (who finished the season with a 101.6 passer rating), which led to Washington becoming a pass-first team,” former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew wrote on the league’s official site Thursday. “Morris will be in the same situation in Dallas, which is why I don’t think he will get back to his days of being a 1,000-yard rusher anytime soon. He will again be splitting carries with Darren McFadden, who was the league’s fourth-best rusher a season ago. Plus, if the Cowboys select another running back…Morris could be No. 3 on the depth chart at the position.”"
If anyone knows about declining numbers as a running back in the NFL, it would be Jones-Drew. A three-time Pro Bowler himself, the former Jags runner struggled for three seasons before deciding to hang up his cleats for good last year. He was only 29-years old at the time.
Jones-Drew recorded three straight 1,000+ yard seasons from 2009-2011 in Jacksonville. But he averaged just north of 400 rushing yards per season in his final three years in the league, including a one-year stint with the Oakland Raiders where he recorded a total of 96 rushing yards in 12 games.
However, I think Jones-Drew is missing two key points in his analysis of Morris in Dallas. One being Darren McFadden’s extensive injury history. Although McFadden has played in every game for the last two seasons, the former fourth overall selection by the Raiders back in 2008 missed a total of 29 games in his first six seasons in the NFL due to various injuries.
The second point is McFadden’s contract, which expires after this season. If the Cowboys decide to move on from the then-29-year old starter after this year, the team will still have a veteran in Morris to hopefully pair with a younger back they obtain via the draft.
Combine those points with the fact that Morris will be running behind a much better offensive line than the one he had in Washington, and it appears the veteran back has every chance to regain his previous form. And the Cowboys appear to have wisely helped themselves through free agency.
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