The Shanahans made the right move, however, in constructing an offense that utilized all of Griffin’s skills. Opponents weren’t prepared for how well Griffin both passed and ran, and the threat of Griffin’s speed was the foundation of the offense.
Griffin was running back Alfred Morris’s best blocker. Defensive linemen and linebackers were so concerned about Griffin, Morris set a franchise single-season rushing record. For receivers, big holes opened in the secondary because over-anxious safeties rushed in when they should have stayed back. Griffin’s ability to elude the pass rush provided relief for Washington’s offensive line, which never looked better.
Thanks to Griffin, the whole organization received an extreme makeover. In their previous 19 seasons, the Redskins had only five winning records. They missed the playoffs 16 times. Last season, with Griffin bringing Kyle’s vision to life, the Redskins rocketed back to relevancy.
And here’s the key question: Do the Redskins even have the personnel to run a productive conventional offense?
Morris is a sixth-round success story. The young man runs hard. I’ll give him that. There’s no way, though, Morris would have rushed for more than 1,600 yards without Griffin being on the move so much.
After his foot healed, wide receiver Pierre Garcon was a force during Washington’s season-closing, seven-game winning streak. Throughout his career, Garcon has been a big-play guy. The rest of the receiving corps needs as much elbow room as possible in the secondary. That’s what Griffin’s running creates.
And then there’s the offensive line.
Griffin’s mobility masked the unit’s deficiencies in pass protection. Washington didn’t make any big moves along the line during free agency. During the draft, Shanahan focused on the defensive backfield. It’s true that Griffin, in a more conventional offense, wouldn’t have to run as much by design — he’d have to run for safety.
Kyle didn’t receive nearly enough credit for taking the framework of his father’s offense, incorporating other elements rarely used in the NFL and blending it all together smoothly. It wasn’t easy. Keeping Griffin happy could prove to be even harder.
For previous columns by Jason Reid, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.