Another running back shines in Shanahan’s system

Updated: January 15, 2013

Even though Robert Griffin III had an unbelievable rookie season, in which he threw for 3,200 yards and ran for another 815 yards on the ground, there was another rookie in the backfield, who also had an outstanding season as well.

Alfred Morris, who is from Pensacola, Florida, was selected in the 6th round in the 2012 NFL Draft, humbly but violently, banged and crashed himself into the record books by breaking the franchise’s single season rushing record , once held by the “colorful” Clint Portis, by gaining 1,613 yards.

Despite Morris’ success, the road wasn’t easy.

He worked his way up from being a third screen running back behind Tim Hightower, who was cut after trying to recover from a ACL and Roy Helu Jr., who injured his Achilles tendons in order to become a starter.

Morris, for that reason, proved Henry Hartman quotable quote that says “Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity.”

“When you see him on tape, he had a lot of running skills. He was on a team that struggled, Florida Atlantic,”

offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan told the Washington Post in September. “But when he ran the ball, he ran hard. He could put his foot down and he’s a violent cutter.”

With Morris’ rookie success, despite some people’s dislike for Mike Shanahan, one can’t deny his ability to find and make great running backs with his zone-block schemes.

Because, time after time, Shanahan has proven himself.

Shanahan, in fact, has produced seven 1,000-plus-yard running backs in his NFL coaching career.

It all began in Denver in 1995, when another sixth round draft pick out of the University of Georgia, named Terrell Davis rushed for over a 1,000 as a rookie. The following year, he rushed for  over 1,700 yards before breaking the 2,000 yard mark in 1998.

After Davis, Shanahan found another late round Draft pick named Olandis Gary in 1999 and plugged him into the system and watched him run for 1,159 yards in his rookie season.

Next, came another Broncos RB out of the sixth round, named Mike Anderson, who gained 1,487 yards, while averaging 5.0 per carry.

With so much success with late round picks, in 2002, the Broncos, finally utilized a high pick in order to obtain Clinton Portis out of the University of Miami in the second round.

Portis, like the other rookies before him, also had instant success in Shanahan’s system and exploded with 1,508 yards while averaging 5.5 yards per carry.

Portis, however proved he was no one-hit wonder by rushing for over 1,500 yards and averaging 5.5 yards a carry the following year.

Therefore, it came back full circle, when Portis was at FedEx field in order to watch and cheer another rookie in Alfred Morris, who benefited from Shanahan’s zone block schemes while breaking his franchise rushing record when Washington defeated the Dallas Cowboys on the last game of the regular season to clinch a playoff berth.

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