Rick Snider: Redskins' Shanahan making it a guessing game

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,Rick Snider

Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan loves misdirection. He'd carry an umbrella on a cloudless day just to make you wonder what's happening.

Now Shanahan has the perfect quarterback to keep opponents guessing.

Maybe Robert Griffin III will run a dozen times against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. Perhaps he'll stick with the passing game. New Orleans linebackers are still confused over Griffin's zone reads during Washington's 40-32 opening victory.

Surely, Shanahan is smiling in the back rooms of Redskins Park. Nobody knows what Griffin will do even as defensive coordinators watch game film until the last Red Bull is emptied while the sun rises.

"[Defenses] have to account for him in the running game," Shanahan said. "They don't know how many times we're going to run him in the game or the possibility of running him.

"So we can run our offense, but we can dictate what we want to do, not necessarily what they are going to do. So we can hopefully keep people off-balance. There is a fine line. That's something that has been fun for us to experiment with some of the things he's able to do."

Translation: Shanahan has defenses right where he wants them -- a few yards off the ball.

Griffin's sensational debut earned him NFC offensive player of the week and the cover of Sports Illustrated. Not that it was too surprising since Griffin is the most hyped Redskins player ever after just one game. Indeed, the midweek praise finally caused Shanahan, of all people, to douse escalating expectations. The man who can't say enough good things about the quarterback he's been waiting for since John Elway retired with two Super Bowl rings in 1998 is now calming people down.

"Let's not get carried away with all this," Shanahan said. "This is the first game, and it's a growing experience and each game you are going to experience different things. It's part of the maturation process that he is going to have some highs and some lows. It's just the nature of the game. I was really pleased with the way he handled himself in that type of atmosphere, and I hope he keeps it going."

Forget it -- Griffin is the buzz of the league, not Andrew Luck, who was taken before him in the draft by Indianapolis. Griffin's 320 yards, two touchdowns and 139.9 pass rating suddenly have St. Louis fans second-guessing the Rams' decision to trade Griffin's pick to the Redskins despite getting three first-rounders and one second-rounder that should greatly upgrade the franchise.

Maybe those four picks will prove a steal for Washington over the coming decade. It would be the perfect crime for Shanahan -- a playmaker no one can stop.

"We have a guy that everybody believes in," Shanahan said. "I believe in him."

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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