Washington Redskins Should Keep Zone Read Offense Intact

By Greg Bradshaw
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Recently, there’s been talk that the Washington Redskins would change their offense in an effort to protect quarterback Robert Griffin III. The zone read offense employed by Redskins’ offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan perfectly utilized the superb running ability of Griffin III, who rushed for over 800 yards in 2012. The zone read offense played a key role in Washington’s resurgence in 2012.

It was on a run out of the pocket that Griffin III suffered a torn right ACL against the Baltimore Ravens last season. With Griffin III’s injury, the zone read offense had to be reconsidered. While quarterback Kirk Cousins proved to be an efficient signal caller in Griffin III’s absence, his skill set is ill suited for the zone read schemes Shanahan devised for opposing defenses. Simply put, Cousins didn’t strike the fear in opposing defenses that Griffin III did before his injury.

The man nicknamed “RG3” plans to recover from his injury and be ready to play Week One of the 2013 NFL season against the Philadelphia Eagles. Washington head coach Mike Shanahan and his staff should continue to construct their offense in the same manner as in 2012. That means more of the zone read offense with RG3 at the controls.

The zone read offense works so efficiently because of the ball fakes RG3 uses to deceive opposing defenses. He fakes handoffs extremely well to running back Alfred Morris, who anchored the NFL’s top rushing attack with over 1,600 rushing yards in 2012. The fake handoff draws the defense in, which opens up the play action pass. That’s when RG3 really begins to shine.

Let’s not forget that Griffin III is an excellent pocket passer with a strong arm. He also makes sound decisions throwing the football, evidenced by his 20 touchdown to five interception ratio in 2012. The combination of RG3’s running ability and keen decision making is pretty difficult to defend against. Most of the Redskins’ offensive success is predicated on the great execution of the zone read offense. This is why despite RG3’s recovery from injury, Washington should continue to employ the zone read offense if they want to enjoy success in 2013.


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