Redskins' immaculate deception

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

Creating confusion key to success of the offense

ASHBURN -- The deception begins at the snap, when the Redskins' Robert Griffin III takes the ball. That's when the guessing game begins, too. Griffin turns to hand off to Alfred Morris. Or maybe he'll keep the ball.

Then this is what also happens: a tight end or fullback ends up going on a route, undetected -- and wide open.

That's what happens just about every week for the Redskins. On Sunday, for example, tight end Fred Davis caught a 16-yard pass because nobody covered him. On the snap, Griffin fakes a handoff to Morris. One linebacker freezes in the hole, the defensive end engages a blocker but is passive and another linebacker flows with Brandon Banks, running to his left. What nobody sees: Davis running a deep-in for a 16-yard gain.

- John Keim

Notes
» Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon said he didn't suffer a setback last week. It's just that the pain never lessened. And there's no timetable for his return from a sore right foot. "It was just every-day pain," he said. "We don't want to continue to feel the pain, so we shut it down. It wasn't getting better, but it wasn't hurting more. It was pain that I've been dealing with for a long time. ... Hopefully enough rest will get me back out there." It could be a few days, coach Mike Shanahan said -- or a few weeks. "It's very much a mystery," Shanahan said. "But he's a tough guy. If he could go, he would go." Garcon injured the second toe on his right foot in the season-opening win vs. New Orleans and has played sparingly since. The high-priced free agent has eight receptions for 153 yards. Garcon said the foot bothered him when he ran in games. It took away from his best asset, his speed. Garcon missed two games before returning. He did not play vs. Minnesota. "It's the competitiveness," he said. "You want to feel good. You think you're 100 percent or close to it. But as you see on tape, they say you weren't ready. I guess it was too soon."
» Cornerback David Jones (Achilles) did not practice. Safety Jordan Pugh (concussion), cornerback Cedric Griffin (hamstring), nose tackle Barry Cofield (shoulder) and DeAngelo Hall (knee) were limited.

Darrel Young's 6-yard touchdown catch was another example of what bothers opponents and something the Giants must contend with Sunday. Griffin showed that he'll keep the ball in these situations. So even after he fakes to the running back, the defense is still focused on him as a runner. They freeze, Young releases to the flat and the safety is too late catching up. An easy touchdown.

"Guys are definitely getting free in situations, and we're hitting them in spots that normally teams don't hit receivers," Griffin said. "The whole objective is to create confusion. That's what every offense wants to do, and we're doing a good job of that right now. Once we do create confusion, we can do whatever we want to do."

The triple option look does that, but so too does the fact that Griffin doesn't rely on one receiver in particular. Perhaps that's a function of Pierre Garcon having missed three of the first six games. Garcon had a strong connection with Griffin in preseason games.

But with Garcon out, the passes have been spread around. The Redskins have three players with 16 receptions, and Davis leads the team with 23. Three others have at least eight. They're actually on the same pace as last year's team in terms of the number of players with at least 40 catches. But the Redskins also threw the ball more last season, too.

"Robert helps tremendously," Davis said. "And Alfred running the ball and everyone else making the plays they're making, it makes it hard to cover us. ... You've got to worry about so many different things."

Griffin has targeted nine players in four games, 10 in another and eight in the other. Only once this season has a receiver been targeted more than seven times (Leonard Hankerson with 11 vs. Tampa Bay). Coach Mike Shanahan said it's a byproduct of Griffin's ability to read defenses and not get locked on a particular player.

"It doesn't allow you to focus on just one guy," Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson said. "You have some teams where you know this guy's a threat and that guy's a threat, but that's it. When a quarterback is not stuck on this guy, he'll get in trouble and look for the open guy, and that's tough."

When you combine that with the deception aspect of the offense, it compounds the problems for a defense.

"What defense do you call?" Wilson said. "You don't know if it's zone or of it's an option or if it's a pass. I'm glad I'm on this team and don't have to play them."

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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John Keim

Staff Reporter - Washington Redskins
The Washington Examiner