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Some deep thoughts about the Redskins' offense

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Photo - Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
With rookie Robert Griffin III at quarterback, the Redskins have eight scoring plays of at least 59 yards this season compared with none a year ago.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images With rookie Robert Griffin III at quarterback, the Redskins have eight scoring plays of at least 59 yards this season compared with none a year ago.
Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

ASHBURN -- The first time teams see him it's difficult. Robert Griffin III offers skills that few quarterbacks have, running an offense that even fewer can operate. It's one thing to watch a few hours of film on the Redskins' offense; it's another thing to face it live.

The Giants, though, have seen it in person. And that should make it easier for them in their second meeting.

At least that's the theory -- but it's not one shared by the Giants.

"It might be a little tougher, to be honest with you," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. "It looks like they have gotten better at running the offenses they were running against us the first time."

That certainly has been the case the past two weeks, with the Redskins scoring a combined 69 points. And, yes, that did follow a two-week stretch in which they managed only 25. But even in those games the Redskins had receivers open downfield -- against Pittsburgh they dropped passes, and against Carolina they weren't always found.

Earlier this season there were whispers that once teams had film on Griffin and the offense, they would be easier to stop. Dallas had 10 weeks of film and yielded 38 points. The Giants slowed the attack by forcing four turnovers in a 27-23 win Oct. 21.

But the Redskins have scored 10 touchdowns of 30 yards or more. They only had six touchdowns for 20 yards or more in 2011. The Redskins have eight scoring plays for 59 yards or more compared with none last year.

Here's how they've done it:

Playmaking receivers » When Pierre Garcon is healthy -- or at least healthier -- he provides the Redskins with a physical playmaker. He has touchdown catches of 88 and 59 yards this season. The Redskins did not have a touchdown catch of longer than 50 yards in 2011.

"He's just a fierce kind of guy," Redskins receiver Santana Moss said. "That's another weapon to add to what we have. It gives everyone else a chance to have more looks."

In fact, three other receivers have touchdown catches for at least 68 yards -- Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson.

"It's about the receivers," Redskins fullback Darrel Young said of the offense. "They're the ones that make the plays go."

Schemes » Early in the season the Redskins fooled the eyes of the defense. They're still doing that, which is how Robinson scored on two long touchdown passes the past two games. Against Philadelphia, Robinson got open deep when the safety bit hard on tight end Niles Paul cutting across the middle. Once he came up, Robinson was wide open. Against Dallas, Robinson scored on a 68-yarder when Griffin's zone-read fake froze the safeties. By the time the Cowboys knew it was a pass, the receivers were 10 yards downfield. That made it tough to recover, and Robinson sprinted past and hauled in the long throw. It wasn't a creative play. It was well-executed and conned the defense.

The running game remains potent ?» Running back Alfred Morris is 18 yards shy of becoming the second Redskins rookie running back to surpass 1,000 yards rushing. The backs and line have developed a rhythm, too. Some of Morris' best runs vs. Dallas occurred because he forced the linebackers to commit to a direction, then would cut back. That provided the line time to seal a lane.

The more the Redskins strike downfield, the more potential the running game has.

"It's nice to get that big strike," Redskins center Will Montgomery said. "Defenses want to put that extra guy in the box to stop the run. The other side of that is one less guy playing for the deep ball. Defenses have to pick their poison, whether to stop the run or stop the pass."

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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