There has been a lot of debate this week over the strengths and weaknesses of quarterbacks Tony Romo and Robert Griffin III and what impact they could have on Sunday's NFC East winner-take-all battle between the Cowboys and Redskins.
But we're missing something here; more specifically, we're missing someone ... and that someone is Alfred Morris.
Morris is the lynchpin to the league's top-ranked running game. Stopping him means cramping a critical part of Washington's offense. And if that happens, there's hope for a Dallas team that has lost 10 of its past 12 season finales.
Look, I know how productive, explosive and reliable RG3 is, and I know what he did to the Cowboys the last time these two met. But I also know what Morris did, and one difference between then and now: One of these two guys is playing on a sore knee, and it's not Morris.
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Granted, Griffin said the knee is not a problem, and it doesn't bother him. But what else would you expect him to say? All I know is that I saw him limping around on it last weekend, when Washington barely escaped the Eagles.
But it's not just that. This is the time of year when teams that run effectively win, and Dallas doesn't run effectively. The Cowboys rank 31st in rushing, with only one individual 100-yard performance all year -- the first game of the season (though Dallas did gash the Ravens for a season-high 227 yards in Week 6). But Washington can beat you with the run or the pass, and it's the run that sets up Griffin's passing ... which is where Morris comes in.
The guy not only has over 1,400 yards rushing, averages nearly five yards a carry and is fourth in the league in rushing. But he protects RG3 as effectively as Trent Williams -- with opponents reluctant to launch an all-out attack on the pocket for fear of Morris busting a big run.
Moreover, Dallas is missing its five best run defenders -- including defensive tackle Jay Ratliff and linebackers Sean Lee and Bruce Carter -- so it doesn't take a genius to figure out where the Cowboys are vulnerable.
Look what happened the first time these two met: On Washington's first scoring drive, the Redskins ran four straight times (with Morris carrying twice) before Griffin launched a 68-yard touchdown pass. One series later, Morris touched the ball on four of the Redskins' six snaps, including a 1-yard touchdown that ended the drive. Morris wound up touching the ball 24 times that afternoon, more than twice as many as anyone not named Romo or Griffin.
It was proof that, in a quarterback-driven league, running still matters. And nowhere does it matter more than when conditions aren't optimum. That's likely to be the case Sunday night, with temperatures in the mid-to-low 30s and winds predicted to be in the 15 mph range. That could make it tough to throw, but it won't have an impact on the running game ... and there's one team here that I know can run.
Griffin is an integral part of that rushing attack, but his injured knee concerns me. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan called only one designed run for his quarterback last weekend against Philadelphia, and Griffin said he expects to have more freedom this week ... whatever that means. All I know is that the second time Griffin has face opponents this season (Eagles and Giants), he hasn't put up the numbers he did the first time around, which means maybe, just maybe, there's another solution.
And there is. Alfred Morris.
The better he is, the better RG3 is. And the better RG3 is, the better the Redskins' chances of winning their first division title since 1999.