“The quarterback [is our biggest offensive threat] . . . but, after that, I think the good thing about our offense is that we have multiple threats. And the biggest key will be trying to distribute the ball evenly.”
– Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, July 1, 2014.
The 2013 Washington Redskins’ offense was, shall we say, underwhelming.
While not as poor as Washington’s historically bad special teams, the offense sputtered for much of the season. Many of its “better” performances came as a result of playing soft defenses in the second half of one-sided games.
In all, Washington reached 28 points only twice last season. The 2012 Redskins scored at least 28 points nine times.
Gruden’s last team, the 2013 Bengals, were one of the better offensive teams in the entire NFL. They averaged nearly 28 points per game, scoring 430 on the year, or 26.9 per contest. That was good for sixth in the league last season.
Naturally, that production with Gruden as the offensive coordinator was one of his primary selling points as he sought the Washington head coaching job. Now, Gruden is understandably enamored with Robert Griffin III’s potential as the catalyst for the Redskins’ offense. When healthy, RGIII’s dynamic play is more than capable of getting Washington’s output back up to 2012 levels.
But Gruden’s comments last week also stressed the number of legitimate potential contributors the Redskins have in the mix. Gruden explicitly mentioned a host of players, from obvious stars like Pierre Garcon and Alfred Morris to situational guys like Roy Helu and Ryan Grant.
“It’s just a matter of getting people involved, and getting excited about the gameplan,” said Gruden. “Knowing that every play there could be somebody different that could hurt you.”
As with all comments delivered before a team has so much as taken its first live snap of preseason, these words might merely be lip service. Gruden may be planting the seed that some of Washington’s lesser players could become bona fide threats this year, or he might indirectly be challenging those players to step up (and lighting a fire under first-string guys) by referencing “even” distribution of the ball.
But consider that the Bengals used a two-back approach last year, with BenJarvus Green-Ellis starting and getting most of the carries (220), but Giovani Bernard getting a lot of touches (170 carries, 56 catches) as well. A.J. Green was the clear No. 1 receiver in the passing game, but the Bengals also had four players who caught between 46 and 56 balls last season, plus another player with 39 catches.
With a healthy Griffin and the addition of DeSean Jackson, Washington’s offensive skill personnel are probably superior to the Bengals’, with the exception of the phenomenal Green. It’s not unthinkable that Gruden could not only generate scoring production comparable to his last gig, but also follow a similar, “wealth-spreading” blueprint. That would be great news for RGIII, but it might mean somewhat more modest numbers for guys like Garcon and Morris.
Of course, if the Redskins are scoring 26.9+ points per game and going back to the playoffs, I doubt many people will be upset.
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