For the second time in his rookie season, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was named the NFL's Offensive Player of the Week after a four-touchdown performance against the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday. Griffin completed an amazing 14 of 15 passes for 200 yards, and also ran for 84 yards on the day.
Currently, Griffin has the 11th-best DVOA (Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted per-play metric) among qualifying quarterbacks, and he has more rushing yards this season (623) than does Steven Jackson, Michael Turner and Darren McFadden. It's safe to say that the Redskins are happy with their new franchise player, and if he continues on his current path, Griffin will actually prove to be worth the three first-round selections the team gave up to acquire the pick needed to take him.
As great as Griffin has been, we have to stop and give credit to the much-maligned duo of Mike and Kyle Shanahan, Washington's head coach and offensive coordinator. Instead of trying to stuff RG3 into a bad scheme fit, the Shanahans took a lot of the stuff the rookie did at Baylor -- the read-options, edge tosses, motion plays, and play-action bombs -- and expanded upon them. What the Redskins have created is a running game that rivals San Francisco's in overall complexity (though with very different underlying principles), and a shotgun passing game that leaves every other in the dust when it's working correctly.
Against the Eagles, Griffin threw touchdown passes to four different receivers, which is impressive enough. More revealing was that he threw each of those scores from different formations -- one from the Pistol, one from straight shotgun, one from an offset shorter shotgun in which there was a back just behind Griffin and off to one side (a particular favorite of the new Redskins), and one from under center.
The first touchdown pass was a great example of how the Redskins use motion to dictate what the defense will do. The Redskins started the play, which came from the Eagles' 6-yard line with 13:07 left in the first quarter, with running back Darrel Young split wide right.
Safety Nate Allen was the outside man for the Eagles, lined up over Young, and he switched inside cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie when Young motioned into the backfield.
At the snap, Griffin took the ball from Pistol set, with running back Alfred Morris 3 yards behind him. Young was the offset back to Griffin's right. As Morris hit the line to block left defensive end Jason Babin, and tight end Logan Paulsen headed straight up from outside right tackle to the end zone, Young was left wide open outside.
Young was wide open for two reasons, both of which highlight the troubles opposing defenses have with this new RG3-led offense. Cornerbacks and safeties are hard-pressed to deal with pre-snap motion among the receivers and tight ends, while linebackers have to deal with an impressive and effective number of backfield formations. Oh, yeah -- throw in the fact that the quarterback is a killer with his own set of designed runs. It's a lot to deal with.
Next up, we'll look at Griffin's 49-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson in the second quarter, and what it showed about Washington's multi-tiered route concepts.