Robert Griffin III Must Return to Spread Option to Get Back on Track vs. Chicago

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Robert Griffin III Must Return to Spread Option to Get Back on Track vs. Chicago
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Robert Griffin III needs to return to the element that made him successful during his rookie season.

Over the first five games of the Washington Redskins' 2013 NFL season, quarterback Robert Griffin III failed to utilize the spread-option scheme that made him so successful during his rookie season.

If Griffin and the Redskins want to turn their lackluster 1-4 season around, this scheme will need to be implemented.

Facing the Chicago Bears in Week 7 is as good of a time as any to get this started.

There are plenty of reasons to assume why Washington shifted its offensive approach away from the spread option moving into 2013.  Griffin's injuries at the end of last season prompted head coach Mike Shanahan to do a better job of protecting the franchise quarterback.

Turning him into a traditional pocket passer seemed beneficial to the Redskins' long-term goals.

Thus far, that transition has not worked. 

Griffin's 2013 passer rating stands at 80.4 compared to his 2012 rating of 102.4.  In addition, he averaged 54.3 yards rushing per game last season compared to only 29.8 in 2013.

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Griffin's dual-threat capabilities earned him success in 2012.

What makes Griffin so special is the fact that he is a dual-threat quarterback—an element that helped him thrive both during his rookie season and at the collegiate level.

Griffin is still developing and is enduring the hardships felt by many second-year quarterbacks.  This is argued by Washington Post writer Mike Wise, who states:

He’s not just human.  Some games, he’s a very shaky second-year quarterback still trying to find the mojo of a year ago, looking so much like Romo did after the Cowboys’ crestfallen loss in December.

Even Griffin has acknowledged that he needs to do better.

In a sense, Griffin and his dynamic playmaking abilities were essential to Washington's success last season.  Those elements are missing now.

As stated by NFL.com writer Bucky Brooks,

Tape of the Redskins' first few games of 2013 makes it clear the team was easing Griffin back into the lineup by limiting his rushing attempts.  Washington rarely used any read-option plays and kept the designed quarterback runs to a minimum.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Head coach Mike Shanahan (right) wants to protect his franchise quarterback.

Let us assume that Griffin is able to return to a spread-option scheme against Chicago. 

If Griffin can establish the threat of running the ball, that should open up opportunities for Redskins' back Alfred Morris.  It would also benefit the play action.

All of this would assist Washington's average of 5.9 yards per play, down from their league-leading average of 6.2 a year ago. 

The Chicago Bears have allowed 2,238 yards in 2013—10th highest in the NFL.  If the Redskins want to get back on track, the Bears could provide the opportunity.

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There is the injury factor and speculation behind whether a rushing RGIII will be a healthy RGIII.  Yet quarterbacks do have the ability to go down early and avoid a big hit, which is something Griffin needs to do in order to stay on the field. 

Quarterbacks can get hit in the pocket as well, so Griffin's mobility could actually remain a bonus.

Nonetheless, it is evident that Washington's offense is not where it used to be last season.  One of the key differences is keeping RGIII out of the spread option—his most versatile weapon.

Unless the Redskins want to throw away this season and worry about next year, they need to get back to what made Griffin successful in the first place.

 

All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report.  Follow him @PeterMcShots on Twitter.

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