The Redskins on Sunday went away from receiver Brandon Banks despite continuing to utilize the triple option schemes that the third-year pro usually had been a part of.
Instead of Banks, the Redskins used receiver Josh Morgan and tight end Niles Paul in the same role. Morgan didn’t receive any touches, but was used as a decoy on those plays where he split out wide and then went into motion and lined up behind Robert Griffin III pre-snap.
On one play, Paul received an option pitch from Griffin, but was stopped for a one-yard loss. The Redskins’ rushing attack remained effective, however. The team rushed for a season-high 248 yards on 38 carries, with rookie Alfred Morris leading the way with 120 yards.
“We’re going to change things up so people don’t get a bead on us,” Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said. “We have wide receivers that can run and wide receiver that can move. Sometimes people can get a little game plan on you if Banks is in the game, and if you have the ability to do those things, that really presents problems for the defense. So we’ll try to keep people off balance a little bit and change things up week by week.”
The Redskins also featured fullback Darrel Young more than they have in the last two seasons, giving him five carries. Most of them came on runs up the middle, and after handing the ball off to Young, Griffin and Morris would fake option runs.
Young gained 26 yards – including a long of 16 – on his five carries. (For the season, he has seven carries for 29 yards. Last season Young recorded a career-best of six carries for 33 yards and a touchdown.)
“We really haven’t utilized D.Y. that much as many times as we had like [Sunday],” Shanahan said. “But we used him in what we call our ‘U Package’ — two tight ends, a fullback, a halfback, and a wide receiver – just change some things up for the defense to throw just a little different wrinkle. We will do that from time to time; try to give something to somebody that they haven’t prepared for.”
Banks had one punt return for 12 yards on Sunday.
Banks this season has five carries for 27 yards as a part of the Redskins’ option attack. He does, however, have three fumbles on offense (but he has either recovered them, or the ball has gone out of bounds) in addition to three special teams fumbles.
Shanahan said that wasn’t necessarily a factor in going away from Banks this past week, but did indicate that Banks has been put on notice that he is on a short leash when it comes to turnovers.
“Banks usually does a good job of recovering his own fumbles,” Shanahan said with a smirk. “He has some experience fumbling the ball but he always seems to get it. I told him once the opposition gets it, then he won’t have those opportunities anymore, so he recovers it very quickly.”