The Washington Redskins are averaging 171 yards per game on the ground. With rookie Alfred Morris as the main running back, and a dual threat quarterback in Robert Griffin III, they’ve been able to do a whole lot on the ground that has helped keep them competitive and helped them win football games.
Let’s not forget that going along with that bundle of yards-per-game on the ground, the ‘Skins have scored 8 touchdowns on the ground. That might be the most important thing: Washington is able to get the ball down the field, and then punch it in once and for all with its grinding ground attack.
This is where things get difficult for the Falcons. They are going to have to stuff this run attack. Washington doesn’t just run traditional run plays; they also run out of the pistol formation, and use speed-option runs to take advantage of the speed and athleticism of Robert Griffin III. He’s a great dual threat quarterback, which is a useful tool for rookie quarterbacks.
The key is that RGIII isn’t simply a running quarterback. He runs only as a last resort because he throws the ball extremely well. He’s not your typical rookie when it comes from a passing standpoint. He can throw on the run and outside the pocket, something the Washington coaching staff will try to do a lot, and he can throw very effectively under pressure in the pocket. Griffin is dangerous in so many ways.
And that’s exactly why the Falcons need to stop the run up front. They can’t allow the Redskins to run the ball effectively, because that will set up the play-action pass nicely. And for a team like the ‘Skins, play-action has a greater chance to become a huge play. They’ll fake the run one direction, allow Griffin to bootleg outside the pocket to the other side, and if the coverage bites to one direction, it’s a big play. And for a guy as mobile as the Washington quarterback, rollouts and bootlegs aren’t particularly difficult.
So here’s what you do. You set the edge, and don’t allow the run to the outside, or for RGIII to get outside on bootlegs. In addition to that, bring pressure up the middle. Make sure that you get a pass-rusher right up the middle at RGIII. If you make sure he can’t escape, and then blitz right up the middle, the play should work out. Same thing for run plays. Don’t allow the edge, and stuff the run up the middle. Easier said than done. But the alternative to stopping the run is giving up way to much in the passing game. And that would spell disaster for the Falcons defense.