Defensive coordinators construct their game plans on what tendencies opponents show on film. By throwing a change-up in Week 4, the Shanahans made Tampa Bay adjust to them. That’s what coaches strive for when they’re seeking an advantage.
Early in the game, Morris enjoyed success on inside running plays that began with Griffin under center. The Buccaneers’ linebackers and safeties repeatedly seemed hesitant in run support with the Redskins in a formation they had rarely used.
As evidence of his progress, Griffin appeared at ease passing after starting under center. He’s becoming adept (through his body language and quick decisions) at misleading safeties about where he intends to pass the ball.
Sophisticated quarterback option plays. End-around runs after shifting into a modified quarterback shotgun formation called the “pistol.” Shotgun misdirection calls.
The Shanahans’ offensive creativity is prompting Redskins fans to expand their football vocabulary. They are trying to construct the most creative offense in NFL history.
If the Shanahans realize their vision, they’ll design an offense that draws from, well, almost every scheme and system that has worked. And Griffin is the foundation for whatever they can dream up.
Although the Redskins’ offense thus far has been heavy on the quarterback option, the Shanahans are not interested in relying only on that approach. The offense is evolving because of Griffin’s running ability. The next step is more variety, which the Redskins began to show against the Buccaneers.
Speedy wide receiver Brandon Banks is playing a larger role. The Shanahans enjoy using him on misdirection plays that end up with Griffin attempting medium to deep passes. On one play Sunday, Banks received a lateral, tossed it back to Griffin, who then completed a 30-yard pass downfield.
There are so many possibilities on offense with a quarterback like Griffin. The Shanahans unveiled the option plays first to frustrate opponents. After the Bengals made strides in slowing and hitting Griffin, they relied on a more traditional two-back, I- formation game plan against Tampa Bay. It worked.
For anyone who thinks the Shanahans are throwing too much at Griffin, Mike and Kyle believe there’s nothing Griffin can’t handle, In deciding to scale back on Griffin’s designed runs against Tampa Bay (he only had three), the Shanahans tacitly acknowledged Griffin was being hit too much. If the Shanahans can strike the right balance on designed runs and Griffin continues to pick it all up, they’ll all be pointed in a winning direction.
There’s no doubt that the Redskins’ awful pass defense is a major concern. The Buccaneers produced 293 net yards passing — and they had one of the NFL’s least-productive passing attacks entering the game. It’s obvious, though, the Redskins have a quarterback who can do it all. And in the NFL, there’s nothing more important than that.
For previous columns by Jason Reid, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.