Over the next two weeks, I will be doing a four-part series on Robert Griffin III, his time in Baylor, and how his skill set will fit into the West-Coast scheme laid out by Shanahan and Company. In order for me to answer that question, we will have to look at where he is coming from, not just where he could go.
I'll also give you my opinion on what the Redskins offensive scheme may transform into should they draft RGIII in April.
We will begin this four-part series with a brief history of RGIII at Baylor, Baylor's Offensive Scheme (Spread Option), and The Redskins Offensive Scheme (West-Coast)..
RGIII began his freshman year at Baylor in 2008, and had already established himself as a play maker by earning Big 12's Offensive Freshman of the Year and setting multiple records. His 2009 season with the Bears would start off just as hot, but would abruptly end with a torn ACL. In 2010 he was officially listed as a red shirt sophomore and would effectively begin to turn the tide for the Baylor Bears. In 2011 Griffin would win the coveted Heisman Trophy over highly touted Stanford QB Andrew Luck, and rightfully so. He threw for 4,657 yards, 36 touchdowns, and a QB Rating of 192.3.
Griffin was a natural fit for Baylor's version of the Spread Option Offense. The spread option relies on a mobile QB and is normally considered a run-first scheme. The simplicity of this offense is something NFL Analysts are questioning, but Griffin has repeatedly conveyed the opposite. The Spread Option allows the quarterback multiple options normally relying on the QB's read of the 'backside' defensive lineman or linebacker. Baylor instituted this system very effectively in 2011, partly because of the sheer athleticism of RGIII. Scouts and NFL Analysts also question whether he is a 'run first' mobile quarterback. His rushing statistics compared over his nearly three full seasons at Baylor indicate his choice to run has lessened since his freshman season. Griffin has said on multiple occasions that he considers the run a last option as opposed to his only one.
Robert Griffin's performance at the 2012 combine was more than expected from the Baylor Junior. Griffin ran an official 4.41 (With an NFL un-official 4.38) 40-yard dash, being the third-fastest quarterback in the NFL Combine era. Many understood that one of Griffin's best assets would be his athleticism, but I don't think very many expected him to blow it up in the fashion that he did. Griffin didn't throw at the combine, instead choosing to throw in a controlled environment with known receivers at the Baylor Pro-Day on March 21st, one day before Standford's Andrew Luck.
The question to answer, though, is how will Griffin fit into Kyle Shanahan's West-Coast style offense?
For those that don't understand the ‘West-Coast' terminology, think of it as more of a theory than a style. There is no East/West coast offensive breakdown; the West-Coast term actually comes from Former Giants Head Coach Bill Parcells:
After a playoff victory over the San Francisco 49'ers on 1985, Parcells made the statement "What do you think of that West-Coast offense, now?"
The system is designed to counter the idea of establishing the run first, in order to open up vertical passing lanes. In a ‘WCO', the idea is to spread a defense using horizontal passing routes to open up longer runs or vertical passes. A WCO requires smaller, agile receivers as opposed to large deep threat receivers who have trouble getting open in short range.
In essence, the WCO differs vastly from the Baylor Spread Option.
Though not required, a mobile quarterback is considered a plus in West-Coast offenses to counter the short time alotted for the quarterback to make his decision. In a WCO, the receiving routes are generally much shorter and take considerably less time than traditional routes. With that being said, the QB must be intelligent and often anticipate more than usual when making his decisions. A mobile quarterback is able to buy more time with his legs, and even make a play with them if needed. Some comparisons would be Mike Vick, Randall Cunningham, and Donovan McNabb (in his prime) to name a few.
Questions about his intelligence or mental state have also been relatively answered. His interviews on National Television and Radio exhibit a maturity level greatly undervalued. The Washington Redskins don't just need a quarterback, they need a franchise face. Can Griffin fill those holes? In an interview just recently released, Steve quizzes RGIII on a (very simple) WCO play. Needless to say, he passed with flying colors. He did mix up some of the terminology and potentially some of the protection, but if you watch the video it's clear he is able to retain information very quickly. (That was for you, UK).
Those are the questions I will be trying to answer. How will Robert Griffin, who has played his whole college career in a Spread Option style offense, fit into the Redskins' West-Coast scheme? Can RGIII effectively revive a faultering fan-base?
Check back in later this week for RGIII to D.C. Part II: Baylor's Spread Option. I'll break down film of RGIII and how effective he was running the spread.
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