Kyle’s magic act
From the season’s start, the Redskins’ play-caller has displayed creativity and flexibility in tailoring the offense to Griffin. Needing to take his game to a higher level Sunday, Kyle Shanahan had his best performance.
The Giants are second to none in the league at rushing the passer. The best way to slow pass rushers is to stir doubt in their minds about when they should be aggressive in pursuing the quarterback.
Early in the game, Kyle called numerous dive plays (runs into the middle of the line) for Alfred Morris (120 yards) from the team’s option-offense formations. The effect was that the Giants’ defensive ends and tackles often hesitated while trying to determine whether Morris or Griffin had the ball.
Shanahan also went deeper into his playbook. On some plays, he had as many as three other players in the backfield with Griffin. At times, Morris, fullback Darrel Young and a tight end would flank Griffin and stand behind him. The Redskins gained yards in chunks on dive plays from those formations and got to the edge for big gains. The most significant result, though, was that the Giants’ defensive ends were frustrated trying to read plays in an attempt to determine whether the Redskins were running or passing — and who actually had the ball.
The Giants regularly applied significant pressure in the second half (New York had three sacks and collected four turnovers after the break), when it was clear Griffin had to drop back and pass. Without Garcon, the Redskins lack speed on the outside to challenge defensive backs on deep patterns. And with Davis now gone as well, Griffin is missing his No. 1 move-the-chains target in the midrange passing game.
Playing for Davis, backup tight end Logan Paulsen, who rarely gets first-team snaps during practice, and Griffin were clearly out of sync on Griffin’s interception late in the third quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, backup tight end Niles Paul whiffed in pass protection against gifted Giants end Jason Pierre-Paul. Griffin was sacked.
What a talent
Okay, so Manning topped Griffin in what Magic Johnson calls “Winnin’ Time.” Still, let’s quickly review Griffin’s most recent special performance in a final quarter.
The Redskins started on their 23-yard line with 2:59 on the clock and quickly faced fourth down and 10 from the 23. Griffin somehow eluded the rush while running around in the backfield in an effort to extend the play before completing a 19-yard pass to Paulsen in the middle of the field. On the next play, Griffin scrambled for 24 yards.
After Griffin’s four-yard pass to Josh Morgan, he threw the most picturesque 30-yard pass you’ll ever see to Moss for the go-ahead score. It wasn’t a game-clinching 76-yard run — but it was special nonetheless.
No deep help
Redskins cornerbacks have struggled in any type of coverage this season. No arguments about that here.
The problem is, the front seven isn’t generating a consistent pass rush and the Redskins safeties have been downright awful providing help. Free safety Madieu Williams has been the worst offender.
The nine-year veteran was supposed to support Josh Wilson against Cruz. We all see how that turned out.
Add the Giants to the growing list of Griffin’s fans. Their coaches and players said he’s definitely the real deal, and they expect him only to get better.
And even though Griffin’s first game against the Giants ended badly for him and the Redskins, it’s clearly a new day in the NFC East.
For columns by Jason Reid, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.