From rookies to ex-Redskins, Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris likely linked coming and going

The quarterback is already gone. The running back will soon follow. Nobody imagined the young stars of Washington's 2012 season going out like this.

Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris arrived together in 2012. That drafted connection will group the pair for the remaining years of Washington Redskins history. They will very likely leave the Redskins organization together four years after they first said hello. That reality is pretty hard to fathom. 

The Redskins officially released Griffin on Monday. No official transaction will be required for Morris. The running back's contract has simply run its course. Make no mistake about it, he's as good as gone. Perhaps forever.

Robert Lee Griffin - selected number two overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, with the Redskins surrendering a bounty that was so typical of their thoughts and philosophy on how to build a team, for far too long. 


A sensational smile and charismatic personality that took the college football world and the nation's capital by storm. He put everyone one on his back with his Superman cape and tried to revolutionize a sport. 


Alfred Bruce Morris - selected number 173 overall, in the sixth round, of the same 2012 NFL Draft. A draft pick that was directly opposite of what happened way too often for the Redskins. 


A low-round pick from a little known school, a guy that cost next to nothing, emerged from the woods and took the football world quickly by surprise. 


Two guys with two very different stories, bank accounts and paths to the next phase of their NFL career. 


You know the story of where it went wrong for Griffin but how much of those struggles can ultimately be blamed on the demise of Morris in Washington and perhaps in the NFL?


It certainly did not help and that cannot be denied.


But there is another set of circumstances that led to this likely conclusion for the beyond humble, hard-working 27-year old from Pensacola, Florida.


The truth is somewhere in between. While many will simply chalk it up to the former, the reality probably falls much closer to the latter. 


Coaches would never, ever admit it, nor should they. However, they know what happened. The cause? That's a little harder to determine but the coaching staff discovered in 2014 that Morris lost the only thing that made him good. His ability to recognize and attack the hole quickly eroded. Not every carry and not every game, but it was more than clear. 


Morris also had some ball security concerns and that made him a bit tentative as the season reached the midway point. There were balls that were coming loose and were fortunate to not hit the ground or statistically count as a fumble. Morris would deny that this was an issue, but again, this is why you can't necessarily believe what you hear. 


Week after week, coaches would try and diffuse the situation by pointing out that Morris was starting (he was) and that he was still the lead back (he mostly was) but the lack of an all-around game and the somewhat mysterious drop off in Morris' skill set made it hard to keep riding the same horse. 

It's kind of ironic that Morris' Instagram account moniker is "Thoroughbred Fred." Way too often, Morris got out of the gate and didn't have the burst he needed or the ability to get to the outside of the pack. 


Here’s the bottom line. If Morris did not have such unexpected success in 2012 and 2013, nobody would really have batted an eye-lash. He should have been just a guy but was anything but. That’s what made his arrival and success more remarkable.


Morris won the starting job in training camp and impressed during his rookie year from the start, rushing for 1,613 yards on 4.8 yards per carrry with an astonishing 13 touchdowns. The 2013 production remained robust and a Pro Bowl nod followed, though his number of carries and overall stats dipped as the eventually benched Griffin struggled for much of the year.


When Jay Gruden arrived, the Redskins kept the zone based running scheme for the most part with some power wrinkles and much of the offensive line was the same. Yet another performance dip followed for Morris as his per attempt average went from 4.6 to 4.1.

The wheels fell off in 2015, Morris's likely final season with the Redskins. Even though the passing game hummed under Kirk Cousins, career lows across the board for Morris. His work in the passing game didn't decline largeely because he was never much of a receiving threat. In 64 career games, Morris caught 47 passes for 365 yards. That's beyond a non-factor for any back with his amount of playing time.  

Don't worry, Morris will find a home. The Patriots, Jets and Dolphins could all use RB help. Unlike some of his teammates, just don't expect an instant announcement when he signs.


Morris is a guy that is intensely private. He did not want to be in the locker room when the media was allowed to be during the week.Never thrilled about talking with reporters, but he usually did without issue after games.

My sense is that Morris is a good guy. He's helped out countless charities and been at hundreds of charitable events staged by the Redskins. Morris is proud of his family and I am appreciative that he donated some money to JDRF on behalf of my daughter last year. 


Ultimately, Morris is what he is. A good guy that probably over achieved because of hard work and a set of circumstances that almost nobody could see coming. 


He's about to hit free agency and he'll probably find an opportunity somewhere else. If he can't and the Redskins can't find a replacement they feel comfortable with, it's possible although very unlikely that Morris plays again next year in burgundy and gold.


He plays a position that simply doesn't get paid like other positions do. Morris isn't in a position to cash in. That's OK too. It was a short run, but when it was good, it was great. The same can be said for Griffin. 

Morris will leave with much less fanfare than Griffin. He never dominated the headlines and never made sports radio phone boards come alive like Griffin does - but you could make a good argument that Morris and the Redskins combined to get every drop of juice out of the lemon. 


It's just a shame that it all went south so quickly. As recently as three years ago, Griffin and Morris were on top of the NFL world. Now they're both walking out of Redskins Park for what is likely the last time. 


A four-year run filled with many highs and quite a few lows. A four-year run in Washington D.C. and then off to somewhere else? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? 

Chris Russell is a senior writer for Breaking Burgundy, longtime reporter on the Redskins beat and radio host for 1067 The Fan. Follow Chris on Twitter @russellmania621.

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