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Emptying the Notebook: Maurice Morris

Maurice Morris

Morris has received a ton of press around here, so this will be somewhat brief.

Morris is an above average receiver, at worst. That makes him tremendously valuable - especially in the neo-Holmgren/Walsh/Spread offense the Hawks run nowadays. When you routinely have only your base 5 blocking, an outlet receiver is practically a necessity. When I dog Alexander, his receiving ability, even beyond his cripplingly poor rushing, is what really makes him a liability. On any passing down, if Alexander is in, he's essentially a dead man. As if the Hawks are playing with 10 versus 11. He's really that bad as a receiver, no matter what he did on ONE play last week.

Morris' rushing, this season, is tremendously underrated. A number of backs, Tiki Barber and Priest Holmes spring readily to mind, who were longtime great receiving, third down, scatback, whatevers, had late career peaks. Doing late in their career what they could never do early in their career. That very well may be the case with Morris. His ability to break big runs has improved dramatically. People who don't recognize just how good a season Morris has had need to consider a few facts:

Morris has contributed 16.5 points above replacement as a rusher and receiver. The only offensive players on the Hawks who have contributed more are Beck and Engram.

He's done that despite playing behind a below average run blocking line. I absolutely do not agree that the Hawks run blocking is among the league's worst, but when you're right guard is a - wait on it - teleport to the ball carrier, than, no, your line is not tremendously good. Particularly noteworthy, Morris has posted a 50% success ratio. Alexander, for comparison's sake, running behind the same line, has been successful on only 37% of all rushes. When you look at every offensive series as a continuum, you can see that Morris puts his team into an appreciably better position after half of all his rushes, while Alexander does so on only a touch above a third of all his rushes. That's a big part of the reason that the Hawks offense looked so much more fluid and efficient during the 3 weeks that Alexander missed.

Morris is very cheap.

Hopefully, the next coaching administration can see the talent staring them in the face and give Morris regular touches as part of a committee. It's an understatement to say he's earned it.