When the Cowboys went free agent shopping for a running back, all eyes were on Lamar Miller. The former running back from Miami chose to go play for the Houston Texans when he agreed to a 4-year/$26 million deal. The Cowboys have demonstrated that they are not willing to throw a lot of money at the running back position so the search would continue for a more affordable option.
And that option became Alfred Morris with a 2-year/$3.5 million deal.
A couple weeks ago, I tweeted...
Last year, DeMarco, 4 years, 2 Pro Bowls, 4526 yards = big cash.— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) March 19, 2016
This year, Alfred Morris, 4 years, 2 Pro Bowls, 4713 yards = crickets.
It was odd that two running backs with such a similar four-year resume would demand such contrasting contracts. Many are quick to point out that Morris has showed a steady decline in production in each year of his career. And they are correct.
- 2012 - 335 carries for 1,613 yards
- 2013 - 276 carries for 1,275 yards
- 2014 - 265 carries for 1,074 yards
- 2015 - 202 carries for 751 yards
But is this indicative to the player Morris is or how he was used? We all saw DeMarco Murray go from a 1,845 yard season with Dallas in 2014 to only 702 yards last season with Philadelphia. Did he become 1,000 yards worse in just one year? No. Murray's success and lack-thereof was largely attributed to the teams he played for and how he was used in the offense. You can look at Darren McFadden's numbers and draw the same conclusion. In 2014, he started 12 games for Oakland and rushed for 534 yards. Last year, he started 10 games for Dallas and rushed for 1,089 yards.
The commonality in these two examples is that the success these two running backs had over the last two season is that they played for the Dallas Cowboys.
In 2016, Alfred Morris will play for the Dallas Cowboys.
Morris was quick out of the gate his rookie season, rushing for over 1,600 yards and scoring 11 touchdowns so he's proven what he can do in the right environment. The Cowboys zone-blocking scheme is the right environment.
But Morris is more than just a good running back. He's also a good guy. Here are some things about Morris that make it really hard to not like the guy.
He loves being home. As one of seven boys who lived in a crowded house, you'd think he would welcome college life. That wasn't the case.
"When I went to college, I was by myself. I was so ready to get away from home. I was so ready to be free, but being away I kind of got homesick. I didn't want to drop out of school, I just wanted to be closer. My first semester was rough."
"She was just such a sweetheart," he said affectionately when he hung up one of his two phones (the other he keeps for business). "I was just drawn to her for some reason. She's always telling stories about her life. Just the way she looked at me. She was going through so much, and just the way she looked at me made me think I could give her hope. I was like, ‘This lady. She needs me.'"
When he goes home to visit, he still sleeps on the couch. Who does that? Probably the same kind of guy that would drive a 1991 Mazda that he purchase while he was in college.
And if you ask him what his favorite movie is - it won't be Scarface or Machete, but rather - Pixar movies.
Those are all nice and fuzzy things, but for Cowboys fans - it's what he does on the field that will make us like him the most. It won't be sexy, but Morris will grind out those dirty yards to help keep the chains moving.
"He's one of those guys who doesn't wow you necessarily, but he just does a lot of good things that are going to help your football team," Garrett said. "The best runners I've been around, they get hit at 3 yards and they make 41/2 and 5. They get hit at 5, and they make 6 or 7. And he's done that throughout his career regardless of what the run style is."
Alfred Morris may not be the home run threat some fans were looking for in a running back, but when it comes to character - he hits it out of the park.