Quarterback Robert Griffin III became a national superstar at Baylor because of his exceptional throwing and running ability. It's a combination that Redskins coach Mike Shanahan hopes will terrorize opposing defenses for many years.
"No. 1, he's a thrower first," Shanahan said in May after the Redskins drafted Griffin second overall. "I really believe he can make any throw on the field. No. 2, he fits into our system perfectly because we like to run play-action, quarterback keeps, bootlegs. With his speed, he can get on the edge and do things most quarterbacks can't do. He also has run the option."
Here we examine four plays Griffin ran at Baylor with an eye toward how the Redskins might utilize his talents.
Quarterback keeper (Baylor at Wake Forest, 9/5/2009 | Third-and-4, WFU 23)
Griffin lines up in shotgun 6 yards in the backfield, with a running back 2 yards behind him. Baylor spreads the defense with two wide receivers left and one to the right. Griffin takes the snap and puts the ball in the running back's stomach while reading the left defensive end. If the end comes at him, Griffin would hand off to the running back. On this play, the end takes a flat angle around the corner and down the line of scrimmage. That alerts Griffin to keep the ball while the defensive end tries to tackle the back, who doesn't have the ball. The tight end on the right blocks a defensive back, giving Griffin a running lane. Griffin gained 12 yards for a first down.
Option right (Baylor at Oklahoma State, 10/29/2011 | Third-and-5, OSU 10)
Griffin is in shotgun 6 yards in the backfield. Receiver Kendall Wright, a first-round pick of the Tennessee Titans this year, motions from the left slot, presenting the defense with two exceptional athletes in the backfield. Griffin takes the snap and immediately runs right, with Wright shadowing his run 2 yards behind him. Blocking on the right side makes a successful play possible. The tight end executes a combination block. He helps the right tackle by chipping the defensive end before releasing to block one of the inside linebackers, who is working to cover a potential pitch to Wright. When Griffin sees the linebacker playing to the outside, he keeps the ball and surges inside for a 5-yard gain and first down.
Fake inside draw, Y Post (Missouri at Baylor, 11/5/2011 | Third-and-goal, MU 6)
Griffin's success keeping the ball and running is well established, and the Missouri defense must respect that, especially so close to its goal line. Wright motions to the backfield next to Griffin in the shotgun, forcing the defense to consider how to defend two first-round NFL talents. Griffin fakes an inside draw to Wright, and the pulling left guard helps sell the run fake. Two Missouri linebackers and the defensive back covering the Y receiver, Terrance Williams, in the right slot each are fooled by the fake handoff. Williams has a free route to the post because the fake froze the defensive back, and Griffin has an easy throw because the linebackers are out of position trying to stop a run that never occurred. Touchdown.
Play-action rollout (Baylor vs. Washington, 12/30/2011 | First-and-10, BU 49)
This is a play similar to the types of misdirection play-action passes Mike Shanahan brought to the Redskins two seasons ago. Griffin takes the snap out of the shotgun and fakes a handoff to the running back that lined up 2 yards behind him in the backfield. The safety covering the deep right half of the field is drawn toward the line of scrimmage by the fake handoff. That isolates Wright in man-to-man coverage on outside. Griffin rolls out to his right after the run fake to change the point of attack, while the left guard pulls with him to pass protect. Wright separates from the cornerback with a stutter step. This play would have been a touchdown if Griffin hadn't overthrown Wright by 2 yards.
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