On Independence Day, while everyone was out celebrating in 100 degree weather, I decided to stay inside where it was cool and watch tape of Washington Redskins’ 2nd year running back Roy Helu Jr. With Robert Griffin III, I believe Helu will have an opportunity to emerge as a legitimate threat out of the backfield. RG3 and Helu could bring a unique element to Washington’s offense, because of the speed and playmaking ability both players possess.
The coaching staff will be able to add a few wrinkles in the offense when Helu is in the backfield. This was obvious even last year, before there was RG3. Mike Shanahan tweaked his running game when Helu became a key contributor in week 12. Shanahan is known for his stretch run plays that set up his play action game. Before Helu emerged last season, the success was sporadic and change was needed. Mike Shanahan was up to the challenge and tweaked his system to maximize what Roy Helu does best.
Roy Helu has elite vision, lateral movement, and burst. While his long speed isn’t tremendous, his acceleration makes up for that. Helu can flat-out go when he sees a crease, and Shanahan took advantage of that. In week 12, the Washington Redskins debuted a run style that will most likely become a staple in their offense for the future. Shanahan implemented what I like to call, a “pitch-out” zone-run attack. I took a few screenshots to display how the Redskins could make those pitch-out stretch run plays a lethal part of their offense.
Shown here against the New England Patriots is your typical single back formation. Normally, this would be considered a stretch run play where Rex Grossman hands the ball to Roy Helu, but instead Rex pitches the ball back to Helu allowing him to be out in space:
Mike Shanahan quickly put Roy Helu into an area where he can be decisive. Helu’s vision and burst was maximized because of this unique play-call. The beauty of that play is, with Robert Griffin III, he can fake and reverse field with an option to throw or run. This confuses linebackers and once you’re able to turn their hips, it will be very difficult for them to pursue RG3.
Here’s another play that intrigued me. This play against the Seattle Seahawks was one of the highlights of Roy Helu’s rookie season. In a standard shotgun formation, normally if it’s going to be a run, the QB hands it to the back either left or right and the back runs the opposite direction. Shanny pulled out a trick that caught the Seahawks off-guard. In this screenshot, Rex simply pitched the ball to Helu in the direction he would run, and it turned into a touchdown:
That is a play RG3 is familiar with. In a similar play call, Baylor dialed up a run out of the shotgun formation and RG3 pitched, instead of hand-delivering the ball:
That play didn’t end up being a touchdown like Helu’s, but the familiarity makes me believe this will be something the Redskins will take advantage of. Baylor was able to do a lot of play-action out of shotgun with RG3 because of the threat of running out of the formation. Here against Texas, Robert faked the ball to his halfback:
By faking the ball, Robert drew the defense making them believe it would be a run play. Instead, Robert took the ball outside the hash marks and made a big throw to the right-side of the field: http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/ff301/roccoskins/RG2-1.png
Roy Helu is Washington’s most explosive back, and though he won’t start, he’ll be a key part of the Redskins’ offense. By the end of the season, his stats could make him the best back in Washington. Washington would be wise to use Helu like the Kansas City Chiefs utilize Jammal Charles. Before his injury, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Charles was the best back in Kansas City. They didn’t consider him a starter, but Charles received his fair share of carries and ended up a Pro Bowler. With Robert Griffin III, both he and Roy Helu Jr. will feed off each other’s attributes. When they’re on the field at the same time, it will create an element of surprise, because both these players can do numerous things out of a plethora of formations.
By Emmanual Benton