Breaking Down How RG3, Washington Redskins Have Terrorized NFL Defenses
Robert Griffin III has exploded for eight touchdowns and the Washington Redskins have put up 69 points during the past two weeks, so what's their secret?
During this two-game stretch—which came on the heels of the team's much-needed bye week—RG3 completed 34-of-43 passes (79 percent) for 511 yards (11.88 yards per attempt) and the aforementioned eight touchdowns. He only threw one interception during this time, and his stats give him a passer rating of 146.1.
In case you're new to this football thing, those numbers are jaw-droppingly gaudy.
His eight touchdowns in the past two games equalled his total from the team's first nine games, so what has changed? How has he done it?
Less is More
The Redskins have run a relatively conservative, rookie quarterback-friendly offense all year long, but the past couple of weeks, the offense has relied on particularly run-heavy game plans.
Against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11, RG3 only attempted 15 passes, completing 14 for 200 yards and four touchdowns. Kyle Shanahan dialed up 34 running plays, and the Redskins were successful to the tune of 169 yards.
This opened up some incredible holes in the Eagles' secondary, as the defensive backs were lulled to sleep over the course of the game.
Let's take a look at RG3's second touchdown pass of that game—a 49-yard bomb to Aldrick Robinson.
The Redskins started out the drive on their own 20-yard line.
There were six total plays on the drive, and before the big play, four of the five were runs.
The play before the bomb, Alfred Morris ran through the Eagles defense for 12 yards out of the pistol formation.
Then, on the touchdown pass, RG3 ran a play-action pass to Morris and then faked an end-around reverse to wide receiver Brandon Banks, freezing the entire Eagles defense (note the eight men in the box to stop the run).
Santana Moss settled into the middle of the field on a zone read, causing safety Nate Allen to abandon his deep zone responsibilities, making Nnamdi Asomugha look foolish.
Robinson ran a deep post, and the nearest defender—Asomugha—was 20 yards away by the time the ball got to him in the end zone.
All Those Short Passes Are Paying Off
In addition to a strong running game, the Redskins cause opposing defenses to break down by running all sorts of pass plays at or behind the line of scrimmage.
It's something RG3 detractors bitch and moan about, as they believe all the short passes are a cop-out.
I assure you they're not.
All those short passes have been paying off of late, as we'll see from this next example.
Griffin III's first touchdown pass against the Dallas Cowboys was a gorgeous 68-yard bomb to Robinson that was set up perfectly by the team's previous four plays—all of which were either runs or passes that didn't even reach the line of scrimmage.
The 'Skins lined up in the pistol, with Morris, Darrel Young and Logan Paulsen lined up in the backfield with RG3. It looked like an obvious running play, and RG3's play-action to Morris sold it even more.
Safety Danny McCray bit hard on the play fake, and Robinson scorched past cornerback Brandon Carr, who was supposed to have safety help over the top.
By the time the ball hit Robinson in stride, he was about 10 yards clear of either defender.
Mike and Kyle Shanahan have set things up perfectly for their young phenom.
They don't ask him to do too much, and it surely helps that Morris has broken out to become one of the top running backs in the NFL.
Griffin's accuracy on deep throws is deadly, and teams are presented with a dilemma: Either they continue to let Morris and RG3 gash them in the running game to protect against deep passes, or they commit to stopping the run and get burned deep.
As long as the team's running game is working, the Redskins have the ability to come up with some monster plays deep downfield.
It'll be interesting to see how well this offense performs down the stretch as the team contends for the No. 6 seed in the NFC.
Note: All screen shots courtesy of NFL Rewind.
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