Shanahan said it was clear that defensive coaches were “gonna work all offseason, find a way to stop it” after the attention the Redskins, 49ers and Seahawks received last season. “And when teams are completely committed to stopping something,” he said, “I don’t care what it is, they’re gonna stop it.”
Redskins a cautionary tale?
Shanahan’s comments came three days before the Redskins won at Oakland last Sunday for their first victory of the season following an 0-3 start. Shanahan and his father, Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan, devised what the elder Shanahan called the “East Coast offense” for Griffin last season, blending elements traditionally associated with the college game — such as the pistol formation and option plays — with an NFL passing offense and the zone-blocking running game always used by Mike Shanahan-coached teams.
Griffin and the Redskins thrived. The team’s offense was highly productive. The Redskins won the NFC East title and Griffin was named the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year. But his season ended with him re-injuring his right knee during the Redskins’ playoff loss to the Seahawks. He underwent surgery three days later and was in the opening-night lineup this season after missing all the offseason practices, heavy portions of training camp and the entire preseason. He is playing with a knee brace and his top wide receiver, Pierre Garcon, said recently that Griffin is “not fully healthy, obviously” and that “last year’s RGIII was a lot different from this year’s RG because of his knee.”
Although neither Griffin’s original knee injury nor his re-injury last season came on a play designed for him to run or have the option to do so, some observers have taken his knee surgery as a cautionary tale for the option-style offenses. Mike Shanahan regularly has argued that the option offense slows down opposing pass rushes and actually aids in safeguarding Griffin. But the traditional NFL view continues to be that the more a quarterback runs with the ball, the more he is put at risk.
“Those guys are gonna get hit,” Kelso said. “If they get hit a few times, not only are they gonna think about it, but their offensive coordinator is gonna think about it twice.”
Griffin is averaging four yards per rushing attempt this season, down from 6.8 last season. The Redskins, by Stockwell’s count, have averaged 3.5 rushing attempts per game on option plays so far this season after averaging 8.4 option runs per game last season. With the threat of Griffin as a runner diminished, his passing efficiency has suffered as well. He threw five interceptions all of last season and had a passer rating of 102.4. He has thrown four interceptions already this season and his passer rating is 85.5.
Kyle Shanahan said before the Oakland game that opposing defenses have “mixed it up” against the Redskins this season. He listed the possibilities for defenses to slow down the option game as “just go get the quarterback, not allow him to run, make him hand it off every time, overload the defense [and] put everybody over there, take a safety out of the middle of the field and bring him down so you’re outnumbered.” He also said the Redskins’ offense had failed to consistently take advantage this season of the openings created for other plays when defenses adjusted to stop the option game.