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Film Breakdown: The Redskins Triple Option Play

Against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Redskins unveiled their new triple option play featuring quarterback Robert Griffin III, return specialist Brandon Banks and running back Alfred Morris. It was extremely effective against the Bengals, but could it evolve into a pass option moving forward?

Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

During the second half of this past Sunday's Bengals home opener, the Redskins ran a new triple option play. We have previous seen the traditional read option play, and even the tradition triple option, but this play had a slight variation on it. Rather than having all three running options moving in the same direction, this play has the fullback running with the offensive line, while the quarterback and running back run against the flow of the play. The play in full would be called something along the lines of "King/Queen Pro Left/Right H Belly Right/Left". More on what all that means in a minute.


The Redskins line up in the Pistol formation. On this play in particular, they are in the formation called "King Pro Left". The term 'King' tells the fullback, in this case Alfred Morris, to line up on the right side of the quarterback. The 'Pro' part tells the tight end to line up on the line of scrimmage, and 'left' tells you the strong side of the play (in other words, the tight end's side). Then comes the "H Belly Right/Left" part of the play call. On this play it would have been called "H Belly Left" as the running back is running up the gut (or belly) and with the flow of the offensive line (to the left).


Like most option plays, the offensive line leaves the backside defensive end unblocked. The quarterback has to read the defensive end, and then has to choose what to do. In this case, Robert Griffin III's running threat keeps the defensive end outside. Griffin hands the ball off to Morris, who takes the ball up the middle. He gained 13 yards after a few broken tackles.

The second option on this play is the quarterback keeper.


This play call was "Queen Pro Right H Belly Right". It's essentially the same play, but the term 'Queen' tells the running back to line up to the left of the quarterback (just like a queen starts to the left of a king on a chess board).


On this read, Griffin recognizes the defensive end crashing inside towards the running back, so he pulls the ball and keeps it himself.


The outside defender is playing to contain the shovel option to Banks on the outside, so Griffin keeps it himself and runs upfield. He is brought down for a nine yard gain.

The final option on the play is to shovel out to Banks.


This is the exact same play call as the last one, "Queen Pro Right H Belly Right".


Once again, the unblocked player crashes on the run, so Griffin pulls it.


The defender manages to adjust and face up with Griffin. So Griffin uses the third option on the play, the shovel pass to Banks on the outside.


Banks uses his game breaking speed and return skills to elude defenders and pick up a big 21 yards.

So those were the three options on the play. But having been at the game, after the Redskins ran this play consistently over a number of series, I noticed the Bengals were bringing safeties down to help stop the run. It lead me to think could the next step for this play be to add a pass option? Now I'd like to clarify that this is purely speculation on my behalf, but let's have a look here.


Notice how the Bengals rotated their safeties. The strong safety rotates down to help in run support, while the free safety drops back as the single high deep safety. My idea would be to motion on receiver across to block the immediate threat to Griffin III, while running a post or go route on the back side as you can see on the picture above.

I feel like this could lead to huge plays for the Redskins. Look at the amount of room on the far side of the field for the receiver to run into and get open. Here's another look, on the Griffin keeper we saw earlier.


As Griffin begins to run the ball himself, he only has one man who could stop him from making the throw. If the defender stays wide to contain Banks, the Griffin has a free throw. The safety thinks Griffin is going to run and starts to rush down to stop him. If you ran a post or a go route on the backside, it could easily go for a touchdown.

But that's just my theory (one which I'm definitely using as 'I told you so' evidence if it ever happens), what do you think of the play itself and my theory at the end? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.