Thom Loverro: Redskins shouldn't punt on a different idea

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Photo - Bill Kostroun/AP
Behind rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Redskins rank sixth in the NFL in total yards and seventh in the league in scoring.
Bill Kostroun/AP Behind rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Redskins rank sixth in the NFL in total yards and seventh in the league in scoring.
Sports,NFL,Redskins,Thom Loverro

Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan has gotten a lot of credit for the way he has handled and used rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III so far this year despite his team's 3-5 record.

But has the offensive genius truly been creative enough with a quarterback who may redefine the position -- particularly in light of the way the Redskins' other unit is redefining the concept of defense?

Has Shanahan been getting the most out of what may be the only chance for the Redskins to win this season, week in and week out?

I'm not talking about running the option or sending RGIII out as a pass receiver.

I'm talking about changing a basic premise of the game and doing, as Don King would say, "SKD -- something kinda different."

The question is this: What has a better chance of success on fourth-and-5 at, say, the 50-yard line? Punt the ball and rely on the defense to pin the opposition deep in its territory and get the ball back, or go for it with RGIII?

Let's make the odds even greater -- fourth-and-10 at their own 40 -- punt or go for the first down with RGIII?

I say go tell Sav Rocca to take a family vacation to Australia and never mention the word "punt" again the rest of this season.

Here are some reasonable conclusions eight games into the season: The Redskins' defense can't stop anyone, and RGIII, with his speed, arm and intelligence, is capable of offensive plays the NFL has not seen before from a quarterback.

The kid is their best chance to win whenever he has the ball in his hands. So when the defense is out there wasting time trying to stop the opposition on a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive that lasts five or six minutes, that's precious time in which RGIII doesn't have the ball in his hands.

In fact, the Redskins might get the most out of this defense with a shorter field. In other words, this defense may have a better chance of stopping a touchdown in the red zone than it does when the opposing offense has the whole field to work with.

That may seem laughable but not any more than expecting a defense that can't pressure the opposing quarterback and can't cover receivers to stop offenses in the NFL.

The story of Arkansas high school coach Kevin Kelley, who has won three state championships with unconventional coaching methods that include never punting on fourth down, has been well-documented.

Nobody else on the major college or pro level has been willing to try this. But circumstances have come together in Washington that present the perfect opportunity to go with the "SKD playbook -- something kinda different."

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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Thom Loverro

Sports columnist
The Washington Examiner