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Aerial Success Makes Game-Planning Fun

Posted Nov 30, 2012

Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan says “the sky’s the limit” for the team’s wide receivers, who add the balance to the team’s potent running attack.

Having the league’s best running attack this season has been a premium for Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

But with a wide receiver corps that’s been able to contribute its own big plays the last two games, the Redskins’ offensive overhaul is truly rounding into shape.

In the Redskins’ last two games – victories over the Philadelphia Eagles (31-6) and the Dallas Cowboys (38-31) – Washington pass catchers have hauled in a combined 33 passes for 504 yards and eight touchdowns. Included in those touchdowns are plays of 49, 61, 68, 59 and 29 yards.

Shanahan attributes the recent surge in wide receiver production to a group of teammates who are “just working.”

“[It’s] guys really not just going through the motions,” Shanahan told the media after practice on Thursday. “Guys still wanting to be coached on stuff and expecting us to demand the most out of them and [who] enjoy being coached.”

Shanahan said he’s had fun coming up with a weekly game plan based around the talents of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, who has used both his legs and his arm to baffle defenses this season.

In return, the Redskins (5-6) – led by Griffin III and rookie running back Alfred Morris – have produced the NFL’s No. 1 rushing offense at 163.5 yards per game.

But when opposing defenses constantly stack the box in anticipation of a running play, Shanahan said it’s important to have a quality group of receivers to keep things off balance.

That’s what he said he’s seen the last two games out of his own receivers.

“We have real high expectations for that group,” Shanahan said. “These last couple of weeks I really believe they’ve taken a huge step forward.

“If they can continue to get better, I think the sky’s the limit.”

The Redskins’ receivers have also benefitted from the return of wide receiver Pierre Garçon, who has been battling a painful foot injury since the team’s Week 1 win over the New Orleans Saints.

Garçon has played sparingly since Week 1, but the team is 4-1 in games in which he appears. With two touchdowns of 59 yards or longer, Garçon is sure to draw defenders, which creates favorable matchups for receivers like Aldrick Robinson and Santana Moss, who have combined for three scores in the last two weeks.

Shanahan said having Garçon in the lineup – no matter how effective he can be – makes a huge difference for the Redskins’ offense.

“It makes me a little less decisive on what we’re going to open up with and stuff we’re going to do, because it does change on who we’re trying to get the ball to and stuff like that,” Shanahan said. “But it’s definitely a problem that I don’t mind having. I’d rather hope to have him than know that I’m not going to have him at all.”

The Redskins hope to keep the momentum going Monday night, as the NFC East-leading New York Giants (7-4) come to FedExField.

Griffin III said he expects the Giants’ defense to come ready for anything after the Redskins’ offense racked up 480 yards in their Week 7 matchup, a 27-23 New York win.

“I just know they’ll come with something different,” Griffin III said. “A team’s base defense is their base defense – usually that won’t change. But they’ll have a wrinkle in there somewhere. Once we see it, then it’s just about adjusting on the fly.”

In the end, however, Shanahan said Monday night’s game against the Giants will come down to one simple factor: execution.

“It’s the end of the year – we pretty much know what they do, and they pretty much know what we do,” Shanahan said. “There’s not a lot of surprises.

“It’s about giving guys the chance to make a play, and we’ll see who makes the most plays on Monday.”

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