Broken Tackles: 10
Good Blocks: 2
Blown Blocks: 3
*Includes all games minus Week 10, Divisional Round and the second half of Week 3 and the first half of week 1.
Morris' touchdown run was on the Alexander special, an off-tackle run with Sims pull blocking and Weaver leading the way. As much as J.C. Pearson insisted that Weaver laid a punishing block on Lance Briggs, the run was mostly about Morris hitting the hole with authority and not breaking stride until he was in the endzone. Nothing fancy, just good blocking, good rushing and a TD.
So, after the Westbrook score the Hawks are back behind. The offense is sputtering. How does Morris save the day? With quickness, a willingness to hit the hole, and one pretty good open field move. And really, that's about it. It's 3rd and 1, the Eagles are in their base defensive package with 9 in the box, Seattle runs a simple off tackle rush, but with a sizable hole, Morris explodes through, throws a sly little juke on Sheldon Brown, then crashes into the end zone. You know why Morris was able to do all that? Because he's an NFL caliber rusher, running behind a quality line, and the Hawks called the right play against the wrong defense. Simple, huh? If only Seattle could somehow give that NFL caliber rusher 20 carries.
Morris had a pair of plays that might have something to do with him heretofore not getting many carries, and in each it was his decision making that was suspect. The first came, perhaps surprisingly to you, on Morris' 46 yard rush. In the open field, a step ahead of two pursuing defenders and with a Seahawk blocking downfield to his right, Morris mistakenly broke his stride and attempted to put a move or stiff arm on Fakhir Brown. Morris looked to be running about as fast as Brown, but was a step or two ahead. Were he to simply continue to run at his top speed towards the endzone he likely would have scored, but, at the very least, he would have totaled more yards.
When the 6th play rolls around and the Panthers break in a distinctly different formation from the first 5, a blitz must be anticipated. That's when things sort of fall apart. The Panthers rush only 5, but get Davis one on one against Morris. That's because, just as in the second quarter, Jones blocks in, Sims blocks in, and no one blocks out. Morris gets a body on Davis, but Morris is not much of a blocker, and Davis blows through him with little difficulty. Beck doesn't sense the outside rush and attempts the pass at just the wrong time, exposing the ball and suffering the game ending fumble.
Never has a more mediocre player been more remarkable. As a rusher, Morris is garden variety, fungible, undemanding in his style, rarely exciting, rarer still frustrating. Every big, effusive compliment of a Morris rush took off in the tailwinds of Shaun Alexander’s suck. Every big, vitriolic attack of Morris’ ability nosedived under the headwinds of Shaun Alexander’s legacy. Morris was the frolicking feather in Alexander’s gale.
As a receiver, Morris is good/very good. He runs tight routes, even downfield, has solid hands and his fast first gear makes him, again, steady if unremarkable after the catch. It’s surprising that Morris is still a Seahawk. Despite playing well in nearly every opportunity last season, Morris was given the tacit rebuff by the coaching staff. No matter how Alexander struggled, Morris mostly sat. In the 11 games both Alexander and Morris were healthy, and the team wasn’t resting its starters, Alexander was given nearly 3 times as many carries as Morris (185/63). In Alexander’s absence, Holmgren ramped up his pass first offense. Morris was never considered a legitimate replacement.
Morris, 28, has the skill set and career carries that should age—well shouldn’t age at all. Not in 2008, anyway. Morris should hold his gains from last season, be a little better than given credit for, a capable receiver and capable backup. But "backup" is all but indelibly etched into his profile. Should Julius Jones play well, I think he will, Morris should get a 1:2 split on the carries. Should Jones breakout, I think he will, Morris will backup the feature back, again, and again give Seattle a lot of cheap, unremarkable production.