Quarterback draw was in game plans earlier this season but wasn’t called, Kyle Shanahan says

ARLINGTON TX - OCTOBER 13: Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) runs for a first down in the first quarter as the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington TX, October 13, 2013. (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The Redskins put the quarterback sneak back in Robert Griffin III’s playbook at Dallas. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The Washington Redskins dusted off a play from last season when they had Robert Griffin III run the ball on a quarterback draw in a third-and-goal situation from the 9-yard line during their loss at Dallas last Sunday night.

It’s a play that the Redskins used with great success near the opponent’s goal line last season, when Griffin was a rookie. They had not used it this season until Sunday. But offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said Thursday that he hadn’t been waiting for Griffin, who’s coming off knee surgery in January, to get healthier before using the play. He merely was waiting for the right situation to call it, he said.

“We’ve had it in the game plan,” Shanahan said. “You just don’t like to call it when you don’t think it looks good. I can’t give you guys all our secrets. But there’s times this year that we have called it that you don’t end up running it because of certain looks you get on the defense…. Last year we ran it, it seemed, a ton early in the year. We stopped running it as much because defenses were playing it. If defenses were playing it, you’re not gonna just beat your head against the wall. You’ve got to do some other stuff…. I think I had called it once earlier this year but we got out of it because of the look.”

Griffin was stopped two yards shy of the goal line Sunday, and the Redskins had to settle for a field goal. That was a recurring theme against the Cowboys, as the Redskins managed only one touchdown and three field goals in a 31-16 loss that dropped their record to 1-4.

“You’ve just got to look at why it happened,” Shanahan said. “Any time you get field goals, you really can’t count on winning. You’ve got to get touchdowns. You’ve got to score in this league. You can feel as good as you want about getting yards and stuff. But it only matters when you get points. We didn’t get enough and that’s why we lost…. We’ve got to get better. We won’t win if you can’t score [touchdowns] in the red zone.”

The positive development for the Redskins in Dallas was that Griffin had his best running game of the season, with 77 rushing yards. He’d totaled only 72 rushing yards in the first four games. If the Chicago Bears, who play the Redskins on Sunday at FedEx Field, and future opponents must respect Griffin as a runner, it could open up other things for the Redskins on offense.

“I thought it was his best game running athletically,” Shanahan said. “He looked fresh out there. He competed hard with his legs, kept some plays alive, made some designed plays in the zone-read and did a good job. It opened some stuff up. It makes them defend a lot of stuff.”

Shanahan also said the Redskins must clean up the communications issues they’ve had on the field, such as when wide receiver Pierre Garcon missed a hand signal from Griffin to change a route on a pass play against the Cowboys.

“It’s something that happens,” Shanahan said. “It’s not something that you just don’t worry about because it is a big deal. You definitely don’t want to waste a play, especially in that situation. Robert signaled a route to him and Pierre was looking inside, adjusting his feet, and he missed it. It costs you a play and it costs you time in a crucial situation. So it’s something that you understand why it happened. But it’s something you don’t want it to happen again. So you address it and you’ve got to make sure when you signal to a guy, the wideout’s got to keep their eyes on the quarterback and the quarterback’s got to make sure they see it.”

 

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