What the Redskins' Offense Isn't
Jan 02, 2013 -- 10:00pm

Nothing has been debated more this year than the Redskin' offense with RG3 and nothing has been described incorrectly more often than the Redskin offense with RG3.

For starters, many have lauded the Shanahans for having the flexibility to install the offense RG3 ran in college.  Except of course that they didn't.  RG3 ran the "spread" offense at Baylor.  The Redskins aren't running the "spread".  The "spread" RG3 ran at Baylor used 4 and 5 wide receiver sets consistently and they threw it deep often.  The linemen took wide splits with draws and screens used as a major part of the approach.  Yes, the "spread" at Baylor included plenty of read-option plays but the offense RG3 ran at Baylor has very little in common with the offense the Redskins are running right now.

Secondly, I've read and heard many people refer to the Skins' "pistol offense" but it's really not an offense for them at all....it's just a formation.  So when someone suggests that the "pistol offense" won't work or isn't sustainable, their premise is incorrect.  Most of what the Redskins run when they line up in the "pistol" formation is their traditional base offense.  The majority of their "pistol"-formation plays this year have been traditional plays like their zone-stretch runs, bootlegs, play-action passes, pitch sweeps or pitch power runs.  So when someone suggests that their "pistol offense" isn't sustainable, that someone is actually suggesting that what they've been running for years isn't sustainable.  That makes no sense.  Why would Mike Shanahan scrap the offense he's been running for 15 years?  I think that those that suggest "unsustainability" really don't understand what they're referring to as unsustainable.   By the way, the primary reason they use the "pistol" as a formation for their base-offense is because it presents RG3 as a run-threat and RG3 as a run-threat enhances everything they call.  The irony is that so many people make a big deal of his infrequent designed runs when the more important benefit has been the effectiveness of his much more frequent non-runs.

Lastly, many believe that the read-option the Redskins run isn't sustainable because RG3 can't run that much without getting hurt.  This is not an unreasonable position but it implies that he runs a lot from the read-option and that just isn't true.  Contrary to what most believe, most of their read-option plays this year have not resulted in an RG3 run. He runs more on traditional quarterback runs like scrambles out of the pocket than he does on read-option runs.  Most of their read-option plays have resulted in runs by the running back or passes by RG3.  As a matter of fact, their read-option passing game has been incredibly successful and is actually the pass-offense that has been the safest for RG3.  He rarely gets touched on read-option throws.  The read-option pass rarely results in the quarterback getting hit because the pass rush hesitates on the read-option fake and the throw is made so quickly.  The read-option passing game is actually analagous to say a quick 3-step drop pass attack except the fake to the back creates an even safer and cleaner pocket.  So the notion that the read-option is going to get him killed isn't entirely accurate.  It's actually a much safer pass attack than passing from a traditional drop-back pocket.  The results this year say the same thing.  He hasn't been touched on read-option throws while their traditional drop-back pass plays have resulted in the two hits that got him hurt.

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