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Kyle Shanahan Adapting Play-Action Post Concept To Fit RGIII, Cousins

As we all know by now, the Washington Redskins have been one of the most dominant running offenses in the NFL this year. The traditional Shanahan zone-blocking scheme has been one of the top running schemes in the NFL for the past 20 years. This year offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has creatively mixed that in with the option game and running threat of Robert Griffin III. This have given the Redskins a fearful rushing attack that can run the ball on just about any down and distance and have to be taken seriously.

With such a threat to opposing defenses, the play-action pass becomes incredibly effective. One of Kyle's favorite concepts this year has been the play-action post. With Griffin III at quarterback, the Redskins have run this off the back of option run fakes out of the pistol and shotgun.


Here against the Giants, the Redskins show an standard zone-read run. But in actual fact, it's a fake with wide receiver Pierre Garcon running a post route on the backside.


The play-action fake draws in the Giants linebackers, creating a space between the linebackers and safeties for Garcon to run into. There is over 10 yards between the safeties and linebackers in this picture.


It could not be any easier for a rookie quarterback when he has that much open field to throw into. The linebackers scramble to get back into position, but its too little too late. Garcon cuts inside and Griffin pulls the trigger. It's an easy first down for the Redskins.

It's a fantastic concept that builds from selling the threat of the run to the defense. Add in Griffin's running ability and the defense is extra cautious of the run, leaving them even more vulnerable to this type of play. But what happens when Griffin goes down injured and Kirk Cousins has to come in? Do the Redskins remove one of their favorite concepts from their playbook? Of course not. Kyle Shanahan adapts it to fit Cousins. Instead of running option fakes from the pistol/shotgun, the Redskins fake the stretch run outside.


Kirk Cousins lines up under center, the Redskins have a run heavy look to sell the fake. On the backside of the play, Garcon once again runs a post route.


The Redskins offensive line begins to run the stretch to the right, not only drawing the Browns defenders towards the line of scrimmage, but away from the backside post route.


After completing the fake, Cousins plants his back foot into the ground and fires a bullet to Garcon as he cuts inside.

The way both Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins were both able to use this concept speaks to Kyle Shanahan's ability to adapt to his personnel. It's easy to see why its one of Kyle's favorite concepts because not only is it extremely effective, but it's not particularly difficult on any position of the offense to run, it just requires them all to be on the same page. The quarterback has an easy read, because the backside post is almost always open off of play-action. The receiver gets an easy route to run, cutting inside practically guarantees you to be open for long enough to catch a pass before the defender can recover. The offensive line only have to block the defensive line, as linebackers recognize the play-fake and try to recover their coverage responsibilities.

So when the entire group offensively is in sync and everyone has their timing down, this concept is very difficult to stop. To that point, I can't think of a defense that has stopped it yet this season because the moment they commit to the pass, their is less defenders in the box and the Redskins will run all over them.