Washington can't afford to fully rely on RG3 in 2013.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com:
Redskins officials already are encouraged enough with @rgiii's recovery to believe he has a legitimate chance to start on opening day.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 14, 2013
This is obviously great news for Redskins fans, as well as RG3.
At the same time, coach Mike Shanahan does need to alter Washington's offensive attack. Clearly the athleticism and mobility of Griffin is a competitive advantage for the Redskins.
But putting him in situations of potentially getting hit more and more will gradually break down his durability. Anyone who has ever stepped foot on the gridiron is at risk to injury, but that gets amplified when returning from an injury.
So, for RG3 to sustain longevity in pro football and keep his rushing threat intact, let's build a blueprint for Shanahan's offense next season.
Feed Alfred Morris
During his tenure as the Denver Broncos' head coach, Mike Shanahan saw numerous running backs hit the 1,000-yard threshold.
The Mile High City was literally a factory of ball-carriers gaining over the four digit mark such as Olandis Gary (1999), Mike Anderson (2000, 2005), Clinton Portis (2002, 2003), Reuben Droughns (2004) and Tatum Bell (2006).
And each of these backs came after Terrell Davis.
Therefore, when rookie Alfred Morris compiled 1,613 rushing yards and scored 13 touchdowns, Shanahan's traditional approach reappeared. The running game is also a quarterback's best friend in pro football.
It helps set up the play-action, opens the playbook in short-yard situations and negates an opponent's pass rush. Morris has the size, power and agility to carry Washington's offense because the NFC East is weak against the run.
Factor in RG3's injury and relying on Morris is also the much safer and wiser plan.
Mix in the West Coast Attack
Quick passes and shorter routes to let the receivers accumulate yards after the catch will keep defenses from knocking RG3 around.
How must Washington adjust its offense for next season?
For one, the young signal-caller possesses a strong arm and fast release to make every NFL throw. Secondly, those mechanics make it tougher on opponents to react in coverage.
Counting Morris and the ground game and that already partially reduces a pass rush. In addition, Griffin's slew of receiving targets in Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson and Josh Morgan will be called upon to make more defenders miss downfield.
These four combined for 2,259 receiving yards last season and 905 of those yards came after the catch. That's 40 percent of Griffin's passing yards done by these receivers, which enhances Washington's offensive capabilities.
Whether it's a slant, smash route, curl, screen or drag, nothing deeper than the intermediate level will widen a defense. Ultimately, this gets the ball out of RG3's hands and lets his playmakers do the work.
In short, he doesn't get hit nearly as often without the rock.
Don't Be Afraid to Rely on Kirk Cousins
When resorting to backup QB Kirk Cousins in 2012, the rookie delivered.
He completed 68.8 percent of his attempts and had four touchdowns to three picks. Cousins also led Washington to a comeback win over the eventual Super Bowl champions Baltimore Ravens, as well as the Cleveland Browns in the subsequent week.
“Now, in terms of my presence in the locker room and that kind of a thing, I’ll probably try to be a little more vocal so that I don’t come across to my teammates as somebody who’s afraid of that role or not comfortable in that role,” Cousins said. “It’ll be an interesting balance to have to walk because obviously I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes, but I also need to be ready if called upon.”
Well, the guy proved to be immediately prepared when Washington needed him last season.
And we can only believe Cousins will maintain his preparedness moving forward. Considering RG3's durability concerns, Shanahan must be willing to let No. 12 conduct the Redskins' offensive orchestra at times next season.
Because refusing to do so and continuing to put Griffin at risk will cost the franchise's future dearly.