Washington Redskins: ‘Designed Runs’ Have Been Overstated

The Washington Redskins and their entire fan-base went into a state of shock when they saw their franchise QB Robert Griffin III laying flat on the ground after receiving a shoulder-to-helmet blow. Griffin III suffered a mild concussion and did not return to the football game. The good news is, Griffin III has been cleared to practice and barring any setbacks, he’ll likely start against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

It wasn’t the hardest hit that Robert Griffin III has sustained this season, but it provided ammunition for many to pose the question – “are the Redskins running Griffin III too much?” That was a hot topic after week 3′s match-up against the Cincinnati Bengals, and at that point – yes the Redskins were running a lot of designed QB runs/options. The past two games, however, Mike and Kyle Shanahan adjusted the offense and dialed down the designed quarterback runs.

I reviewed every offensive play from Washington’s week 4 and 5 match-up and tallied a few stats:

18 - is the amount of times Washington has lined up in the pistol formation.

10 - is the amount of times Washington ran a running back out of the pistol formation.

- is the amount of times Washington has thrown out of the pistol formation.

- is the amount of times Washington has designed a read-option for Robert Griffin III (Robert chose to run). The Redskins also ran one trick play out of the pistol formation that involved Brandon Banks, Griffin III, and a throw to Niles Paul.

Here are some stats out of the shotgun formation that I’ve compiled:

5 - is the amount of times Robert Griffin III chose to scramble.

- is the amount of times Washington called a designed running play for Griffin III.

According to the NFL, Robert Griffin III has 9 rushing attempts combined in Washington’s past two games. Based on the stats I’ve compiled, 2 of those rushing attempts were scrambles after a drop-back (under center) pass attempt. Only two of those 9 combined rushing attempts were designed QB runs. The NFL stat sheet shows a combined 24 QB runs in weeks 2 and 3 for Robert Griffin III – 15 more attempts than weeks 4 and 5.

So, are the Redskins running Robert Griffin III too much? Based on the stat’s above – no they are not. Mike and Kyle Shanahan made adjustments two weeks ago, in attempt to limit the amount of hits on Griffin III. The concussion that he sustained was a learning experience, as coach Mike Shanahan said in his Monday presser -

“Each game is a learning experience. He is going to learn a lot as time goes on. He is very competitive like most young quarterbacks are. You want to make every first down and you want to extend every play to the last second. Part of that is knowing that we have to have you out there so these quarterbacks learn in time when to slide. Now if it is the Super Bowl or you are going for a playoff win, then you take some of those chances. But part of process is staying healthy and obviously being out there for your teammates. And it was a learning experience for Robert.”

Robert Griffin III is a quarterback that happens to have world-class speed. His biggest learning curve this season seems to be knowing when to run out of bounds or slide to avoid big hits. It’s not a tall order – some things you have to experience in order to learn.

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