The Redskins say the option game will remain part of their offense but isn’t the main part of it.
Rookie tailback Alfred Morris is averaging 87.7 rushing yards per game. Going back to his Denver days, Shanahan’s teams usually have run the ball well, using zone blocking by the offensive linemen and stretch running plays in which the defense, as the name implies, is stretched toward the sideline and, the offense hopes, running lanes emerge.
Griffin’s passing, too, has been effective. He is the league’s sixth-rated passer even with his top wide receiver, Pierre Garcon, sidelined for the past two games because of a foot injury. The Redskins have retained elements of a West Coast passing game, a staple of many NFL offenses since legendary coach Bill Walsh used it to win three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s, in their system for Griffin.
“We try to be able to attack a defense in a lot of different ways, throwing and passing,” guard Chris Chester said. “There’s different ways to go about that. With the running, we’ll utilize our stretch zone and then complement that with some of the stuff we do with Robert, have him move around and optioning, as well as some inside zone.”
It is a game of adjustments and re-adjustments. The Bengals spent the first half last Sunday looking like a team whose defense was ready for what the Redskins were doing offensively. But the Redskins made some adjustments in the second half. Griffin got the ball out of his hand quicker on some option plays. The Redskins put speedy wideout Brandon Banks on the receiving end of some of the option-play pitches. The offense got going but the defense failed to do its part and the Redskins lost, 38-31.
The Redskins say the first half of the Cincinnati game wasn’t a sign that the league is beginning to figure out what they’re doing. Rather, they say, they simply didn’t execute their offense very well and once they did, everything started clicking again.
“There’s no doubt they had a good game plan,” Black said. “But the reason that our offense was sluggish in the first half — I have to blame ourselves. I think that all the things that we did, it was self-imposed mistakes…. You look at the second half and you look at the first half, they’re polar opposites. If we can take that second half and do the same thing in the first half and put two halves of football together, I mean, it’s unstoppable.”
Gene Wang contributed to this report.