Redskins Would Be Wise to be a Run Focused Offense
January 14, 2014 in Redskins Personnel
While some Redskins fans may have liked the Redskins passing offense last year when they finished 9th in passing attempts and Pierre Garcon set the Redskins record for receptions in a season, it really wasn't in the team's best interest to be throwing the ball that often. Yes the general perception is the NFL is a passing league and that is the only way to win, but once again that was proven to be false. The 49ers, Seahawks and Panthers were the bottom three teams in the league in passing attempts and they all had 12 or more wins this year. Sure you can win by throwing the football, but you need a Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Tom Brady to do so. Also, while we think of the Broncos, Saints and Patriots as passing teams, the Patriots and Broncos strive for balance, as they finished 7th and 11th in the league in rushing attempts as well this season.
The Redskins don't have that elite quarterback like, Manning, Brees and Brady who can throw the ball 40 times a game and win, in RGIII and that's okay. Griffin doesn't need to set passing records to be effective and become a top quarterback in this league, he just needs to be efficient and productive when called upon. It's not surprising that a young quarterback who has very limited NFL style experience would struggle when asked to throw that much (which once again shows a major failure by the Shanahans), that is why the Redskins need to do a better job of taking the ball out of Griffin's hands. The Redskins should take the approach that other teams with young quarterbacks (particularly those who are mobile) have done and focus on running the football. Making it even more of a no-brainer decision is the fact that the Redskins have a premier back in Alfred Morris. Morris has been one of the top backs in the league in his first two years in the league and should be the focal point of any offense. Not only can he make a young quarterback's job easier and limit the beating that he takes, but he's clearly the best weapon on the team.
What makes Morris's success, particularly this season, so impressive is he did so with little support. While Pierre Garcon was a big receiving threat, and for a while Jordan Reed and Leonard Hankerson were options as well, the Redskins passing game was so ineffective that teams were daring the Redskins to throw. Morris typically wasn't running versus nickel defenses or favorable fronts. Most teams knew Morris was getting the ball and they still couldn't stop him (some of the better defenses were able to do so because of this). Also, Morris didn't have the best blocking in front of him. While the Redskins run blocking was better than their woeful pass blocking, it still wasn't a strength of this team. The Redskins tight ends didn't help much as blockers, including supposed blocking specialist Logan Paulsen. Morris did have his fullback Darrel Young who's a very good lead blocker, but he missed a large part of the 2nd half of the season (which coincided with some of Morris's worst games). If the Redskins can have a bigger passing threat this year, and build up the blocking of this line/tight end units (and not just for Morris's sake), Morris could put together a special season.
Now this doesn't mean that the Redskins can ignore their needs as a passing unit, but it does perhaps show that they don't need to be as big of a priority. The Redskins need to upgrade their receivers and build their offensive line (which should again help Morris as well) this offseason as well, but it doesn't have to be the biggest focus of this team. Now the line needs upgraded regardless, but the Redskins could prioritize some stop gap offensive linemen who are an upgrade, but perhaps not long term options. Also, it is typically easier to find quality run blockers on the cheap, even if their pass blocking is just average. Since the Skins pass blocking was so poor last year, average would be a nice upgrade. As for the receivers, there is little doubt the Redskins need some upgrades here, but they don't necessarily need to make a huge investment. If they aren't going to be throwing to the receiver 100 times or more a year, then spending a high 2nd round pick or top free agency dollars on a guy doesn't make a lot of sense. Instead a 2nd tier receiver via free agency and a 4th round type of receiver should be more than enough resources to put into the position.
It might not be the most popular approach to be so run-centric next year (and likely going forward), but it looks to be what's best for the Redskins to get to contention status. It's also likely the best thing for Robert Griffin III's development and the Redskins offseason plan.