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Why Alfred Morris can save the day if the Cowboys lose Ezekiel Elliott

Take a deep breath, it’s going to be okay...

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

If the Dallas Cowboys lose Ezekiel Elliott to suspension, Alfred Morris can save the day. Okay, before you start throwing beer bottles at me, let me remind you that very few people were optimistic when I wrote Can Dak Prescott save the day if the Cowboys lose Tony Romo last year. It’s never a popular subject to talk about replacing a super-talented playmaker with a player that hasn’t proven what he can do on this team. Ezekiel Elliott is a special player. What he does as a running back isn’t always evident. His toughness, his ability to escape tackles, and his home run speed once he gets in space are all things that aren’t easily replaced. And while Alfred Morris will far short of what Zeke can do on several attributes, that doesn’t mean he cannot be successful in this offense.

Morris is a good runner. He’s smart. He knows what he’s supposed to do and he has a proven history of being an efficient running back in this league. Some will bring up his declining yards per carry that exists over his last few years carrying over into the end of his tenure in Washington. What has declined exactly? Is he not as fast as he once was? No, he never was fast - that’s not it. Has he suffered some type of injury that has impacted his performance? Nope - he’s as healthy as an ox. So what’s the dealio? Maybe it could be how he was used? Morris has excelled in a lead role, but struggled to find any rhythm in short service. If that’s the actual issue, then that bodes well for him if he is asked to be the lead guy while Elliott is unavailable.

I’ve been beating the drum for Morris for quite some time now and in July, I had this to say:

The case for Alfred Morris: The Cowboys brought in Morris to add depth to the position so they could draft as pure as possible in 2016. When the team ended up selecting Elliott with the fourth overall pick, Morris' role would be severely diminished. Early on, Morris ran the ball well and looked like a great fit in this offense. His ability to “get skinny” helped him slide right through the lanes and make some nice runs.

Morris is a player that does well in a bell-cow role. He gets better as the game goes on as he finds his rhythm. His three straight 1,000 yards seasons weren’t a fluke. He didn’t suffer some game-altering injury that has effected his performance. In fact, he’s the anti-McFadden when it comes to durability. The guy is always available.

The thing I am most impressed about when it comes to Morris is how well he sees the holes and the perfect amount of patience he executes when he darts through them. His vision is outstanding. He knows exactly where he needs to go with the ball. And he uses this stutter-step type footwork to wait the perfect amount of time before exploding through it the lanes without losing any of his momentum. His ability to make himself small through the holes allow him to finagle through small spaces and into open space.

I'm really not too worried about Morris filling in. He hasn't seen a lot of action, but in each of his four carries over the last two games, they've all went for at least five yards. The guys just knows how to find the creases. I'm going to go out on a limb right now and say that if Zeke misses time, Morris will come in and spark the running game to where you'll have some fans start knee-jerking and proclaiming he should be the starter over Zeke. Now, that’s silly talk, but if he comes in and plays well, don’t be surprised when those stories start buzzing around Cowboys Nation. That may seem like a ridiculously bold claim on my part, but that's an indication of my confidence level with 46 right now.

There are some that will claim that the Cowboys have left Darren McFadden inactive in order to save him for something like this.

Personally, I’m not buying it. What kind of wear would he be undergoing by running the ball twice a game? Morris has been the number two running back because he’s the player the coaching staff has deemed as the next best option and he hasn’t done anything this season to change that.

If Sean Lee was the player who was going to miss extended time, I’d go bury my head in the dirt somewhere to avoid the mess that would ensue. But it’s not Lee, it’s Zeke. And Zeke’s got a viable replacement on an offense with a quarterback than has demonstrated he can make plays even when the running game is spinning it’s wheels.

Let’s give Alfred a chance and see how this plays out.

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