Washington Redskins record-setting rookies RG3 and Alfred Morris the best in the NFL?

Alfred Morris

In Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris, the Washington Redskins boast the best 1-2 punch in the NFL. The duo set rookie records helping the Redskins beat the New York Giants 17-16 on Monday night.

Griffin set a new mark for rushing yards by a rookie quarterback in a single season. He scampered for 72 yards against Big Blue's defense, giving him 714 on the ground for the season.

That broke the record set by Carolina Panthers' ace Cam Newton in 2011. The new record is just further proof of Griffin's dual-threat dynamism and playmaking skill.

Those attributes have taken an otherwise uninspiring Redskins team to 6-6 and playoff contention. But Griffin has not hogged all of the Redskins rookie honours himself.

First-year running back Alfred Morris has also played a key role for the league's best rushing offense. The sixth-round pick ploughed his way through Giants tacklers for 124 yards on 22 punishing carries.

That figure gives Morris 1,106 yards so far this season. It also means he has set a new rookie rushing record for the Redskins.

In doing so, Morris surpassed the 1,063 yards set by the diminutive Reggie Brooks in 1993.

With Griffin and Morris in the backfield, the Redskins ground game is dominating defenses. Against the Giants, the Redskins' zone-option schemes sparked a 207-yard rushing effort.

The problem teams face is identifying who to key and who has the ball. The issues is most obvious when the Redskins adopt the pistol formation.

This positions Griffin in a short-shotgun look, with a running back aligned directly behind him. There is usually another back alongside Griffin often acting as a blocker.

Once he receives the snap, Griffin has several options. He can hand off to Morris, or he can fake the handoff and run himself.

The problem for a defense is that they can't ignore Morris. His is effective running the zone stretch to the outside and can also work well between the tackles.

So the initial action of supposedly handing off to Morris will almost always draw the defense down inside. If Griffin sees this, he can keep the ball himself and scamper around the outside.

It is Griffin who offers the biggest threat because of his dangerous open-field speed. By the time the defense has deciphered the play, Griffin or Morris have already gained four-five yards minimum, before contact.

Because Griffin executes play fakes so convincingly, defenses are never sure who has the ball until it's too late.

The Giants were frequently caught hesitating on the edges. Defensive ends like Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck were forced into a guessing game, instead of their usual attacking style of defense.

Defenders at the second level tend to overreact to the initial fakes. Giants linebackers and safeties frequently fell victim to this failing.

Their rash attempts to step up for the run, created huge passing lanes behind the defense. Griffin has become expert at exploiting such gaps, with play-action passes that land the ultimate sucker punch on defenses.

No matter what defense they face, the Redskins can use Griffin and Morris to create deception and manufacture big plays.

No other team in the NFL, boasts such a devastating tandem.

image: © Keith Allison