Washington's new run game

Can the new system for Griffin and Morris be as effective as 2012?

Updated: October 11, 2013, 3:23 PM ET
By Gary Horton | ESPN Insider

Robert Griffin IIIToni L. Sandys/The Washington PostRobert Griffin III has been making more plays with his arm this season, but he can still run.

The Washington Redskins fielded one of the most creative offenses in the NFL in QB Robert Griffin III's rookie season. It was a scheme with balance and versatility, led by a fabulous athlete who could do it all. Not only was he a tremendous threat as a runner -- mostly on the outside read-option, but also on a lot of designed QB runs and draws -- but his ability to stretch the defense with his big arm led to a huge rookie season by a previously little-known running back, Alfred Morris.

Defenses were so conscious of RG III on the edge that they constantly overplayed it, and that left gaping holes inside. Morris was perfect in Mike Shanahan's one-cut-and-go running scheme, and everybody ran this offense to perfection. After RG III initially sustained his knee injury in Week 14 against the Ravens, it wasn't the same offense; with no outside run threat, defenses were able to stack the box inside versus the run.

Let's fast-forward to 2013. When you break down the first three games on film, there are concerns everywhere: the read-option is virtually gone, there is no threat of an outside run game, RG III doesn't look like the explosive athlete we have seen in the past, and Morris has virtually no room to run, which weakens a play-action package that is important to Washington's success.

However, in the Skins' most recent game, we finally saw some positive signs. Since Griffin is not intent on making every play with his legs, he is staying closer to the pocket and doing a much better job of reading coverages and making his progressions instead of tucking the ball and taking off at the first sign of distress. In general, he's starting to look more comfortable in this offense. Early in the season, everybody analyzed Griffin's mechanics, and most experts did not like what they saw. But the recent improvement is dramatic, and I believe the Redskins are ready to go on a roll.

Recently, I watched their games from 2012 and all their 2013 offensive plays to see if there are major differences in scheme or production. I came away from my film study with a really good feeling about how good this run game will look the rest of the season, with fewer changes than you might think.


To read the rest of Gary Horton's analysis of Washington's new run game, and what to expect for the rest of the season, sign up for Insider today.

Gary Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.