This is the first of hopefully many mailbag posts from me. I quite often get a lot of questions asking about specific things to do with the Redskins or just Xs and Os in general, so I thought I'd start a weekly mailbag that can answer some of your questions.
Kevin kindly provided the first question for me on twitter.
@ukredskin1 ~25% of Redskins rushes were read option last year...do you see that % increasing, decreasing, or staying the same?— HogsHaven.com (@HogsHaven) June 6, 2013
For me this really depends on how defense's will try to play us going forward. I don't see the Shanahan's shying away from it because of Robert Griffin III's injury, but at the same time they aren't going to purely run the option game. As Mike and Kyle Shanahan have always done, they will script their first 10-20 plays to see how the defense reacts to different things and build on that.
Mike Shanahan has always said there are ways to stop the read-option. If a team wants to sell out to stop the read-option, then that will open up the passing game and other aspects of the running game. But if a team chooses to ignore Griffin's running threat, then Kyle will call the read-option until the defense adjusts.
Ultimately, I think with the success of the Redskins, 49ers and Seahawks all using aspects of the option game in their offense, the rest of the NFL will be working to try and stop it. That leads me to believe the Redskins will use that to their advantage and use other parts of their playbook, so I can see it dropping slightly.
Our second question comes from twitter user Dan Henderson.
This will be interesting to see, actually. What's really exciting is the versatility of the weapons the Redskins have now added to the team. We saw Joshua Morgan and Santana Moss move all around the formation last year, even lining up at running back on occasion. Niles Paul didn't have quite the impact we expected him to have last year, but is another guy that can be moved around. Of course, Fred Davis is returning from his injury and we have Logan Paulsen back after he did a good job filling in for Davis. Now the Redskins have Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson to add to the mix. Kyle Shanahan could call for any combination of those guys to join the likes of Alfred Morris and Darrel Young in the backfield on any given play.
As I mentioned in the last question, I think teams will be selling out to stop the read-option, leading to more passing opportunites. I think the two rookies Reed and Thompson could be extremely effective coming out of the backfield on play-action passes as the defense comes down to stop the run. But they're going to have to get healthy first.
The final question comes from twitter user Will Briggs.
As you probably know, when Mike Shanahan took charge, he hired Jim Haslett as his defensive coordinator to bring in the Steelers 3-4 scheme. One of the key components of that scheme is the zone blitz, which I broke down on Fanspeak recently. The main thing the Redskins defense revolves around is disguise. They like to rotate safeties around in the defensive backfield to keep a quarterback guessing. You'll often see them show one look, only to change to another as the ball is snapped.
But most of all, Haslett loves to blitz. In week 17 against the Cowboys, Shanahan finally let Haslett off his leash and allowed him to call as he saw fit. Haslett responded with constant blitzing, which paid off big. The Redskins clearly focused on drafting defensive backs that have had success turning over the football. David Amerson, Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo all have more than their fair share of interceptions throughout their college careers. Heavy blitzing will force quarterbacks to rush throws and bring down their accuracy. This is where the rookies will have their chance to shine. I'm expecting plenty of blitzing next year with the corners playing off-man coverage. That will allow them the best chance to keep and eye on the quarterback and break on the ball the moment it's released. Some weeks that could mean they get burned, while on other weeks that could produce three interceptions (I'm looking at you, Tony Romo).
Be sure to leave any questions you have, be it Redskins related or just general Xs and Os, in the comments section below. You can also send questions to me on twitter, @UkRedskin1.