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The Cowboys are going to see a multitude of different looks on Thursday. RG3 runs the read option incredibly well and has the accuracy to throw the long ball when needed.
The key to slowing this offense down is not being fooled by play-action. That’s a lot easier said than done. RG3 runs more play-action than any other quarterback in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus, out of 227 dropbacks 85 have been play-action. That makes blitzing especially dangerous.
The Redskins run everything from end-arounds, to wishbone and inverted wishbone looks, to the pistol formation. They like to keep a crowded backfield and try to disguise the runner, all by utilizing play-action as a means to confuse the coverage.
It’s very difficult to game-plan for this type of offense. They have a great offensive line, a good combination of running backs and a playbook full of deception. In Week 8, they ran a play-fake to Evan Royster and handed the ball off to Josh Morgan on what looked to be an end-around. But just as the Steelers defense changed direction, Morgan threw the ball 35 yards down the field to RG3.
That play wasn’t successful as Griffin was called for offensive pass interference, but it gives you an idea of what to expect. (He was also laid out on that play, and I doubt Shanahan is going to take any more risks by turning his franchise QB into a wide receiver.)
The best thing the Cowboys can do is try to hit RG3 on every play. Even if he’s just handing the ball off. That will force the Redskins to play straight, and it takes the creativity out of their playbook.
The linebackers will need to find that delicate balance of showing patience and making quick decisions. Sometimes they’ll have to guess. Let’s just hope they guess right.