RICHMOND, Va. (CBSDC) — The play looked great, a classic read option run that Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III used to devastating effect two years ago.
Things aren’t always what they seem, though, as teams work out the kinks in preseason.
A busted play during Wednesday’s training camp practice turned into a nice first down gain to the left side and could have been a touchdown had Griffin not listed out of bounds briefly.
“That wasn’t even a zone read play. Coach [Jay Gruden] asked me what the hell I was doing,” Griffin said. “‘I saw something coach.’ That’s just what it was. But I know what you mean about the zone read. It’s a part of every quarterback who can move around a little bit. Everybody’s run it, from Aaron Rodgers all the way down the list.”
But Griffin bristled at the notion that he made his reputation by running the zone read. Much was made last season of the quarterback preferring not to go to that well too often. It’s hard for anyone to stay healthy taking the shots that the play subjects a quarterback to. Where the Redskins ran it four or five times in games the last two years, that number figures to dip under Gruden.
“It’s not how I made my name,” Griffin said. “I made my name throwing the ball in college, winning a Heisman Trophy at Baylor.”
Gruden said he used read option plays in Cincinnati as the offensive coordinator there with quarterback Andy Dalton. It’s “another way to attack the defense,” he said. But how much Washington will do that will be on a game-by-game basis and discussed going into every week. Griffin’s knee is strong again 18 months after surgery. But Gruden’s staff wants to take away some of the pounding the read option inflicts on a quarterback.
“There’s no question we’re still working on that balance right now,” Gruden said. “[Griffin is] obviously very good at the read option. He’s proven that he can do it. But he’s also proven that coming off a major injury here the last couple years, he’s healthy, but there will be a balance.”
Gruden thinks running read option one or two times a game forces opposing defenses to prepare for it, making an offense more versatile even if it is used sparingly. Gruden made clear there was zero chance the Redskins would run it seven or eight times a game. But it remains in the playbook for 2014. If healthy, Griffin is too good at it to leave it on the shelf.
“It’s a part of every quarterback who can move around a little bit. Everybody’s run it, from Aaron Rodgers all the way down the list,” Griffin said. “It’s something you want to sprinkle in, keep the defense aware of, make them have to practice it. But it’s not something that you make the focal point of your offense and that’s why we have the guys that we have, that’s why we run the offense that we’ve been running and you haven’t seen very much of the zone read.”
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