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Hail Mail: Read-Option, Jordan Reed, More

Posted Sep 18, 2013

Welcome to Hail Mail, Week 3, where Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman answers your questions ahead of the team's clash with the Detroit Lions at FedExField. Need an answer? Tweet @Redskins, #HailMail.

Welcome to Hail Mail, Week 3, where Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman answers your questions ahead of the team's clash with the Detroit Lions at FedExField. Need an answer? Tweet @Redskins, #HailMail.

What do you want to know?


Question: #hailmail will the redskins play the option like last year at all or no?

--Nick Phillips, (@nickgokuflipz)

Answer: The answer is almost certainly yes. The real question is when?

Last season, the Washington Redskin ran the read-option in almost every game, finding success against almost every defensive front.

Were it not for Robert Griffin III's knee injury, there's no telling how far the Redskins could have ridden the read-option in teh playoffs. Matching their read-option with a strong defense on the other side of the ball, the San Francisco 49ers fell just short of Super Bowl glory.

But the NFL is a game of adjustments, and the Redskins coaching staff is not making decisions in a vaccuum.

Given the proliferation of the mobile quarterback, Pistol offense and read-option, every team in the NFL spent the offseason studying tape and getting specialized instruction on the read-option.

The Redskins are aware of that, and anticipated that the Philadelphia Eagles defense might be prepared after two games against them last year and an offseason with Michael Vick and Chip Kelly.

The Green Bay Packers proved that they could wreak havoc on the read-option, limiting the 49ers' effectiveness with the system in Week 1.

So far, the matchups have not been favorable for a Redskins read-option exposé. To forced the issue in a disadvantageous situation could leave Robert Griffin III and his surgically repaired ACL exposéd.

Combine that with the fact that the Redskins are trying to put Robert Griffin III in the best situation to ease back into the offense. He missed all offseason reps and a good chunk of training camp.

That doesn't mean he can't run the offense, but it does mean that timing could be an issue where it was second-nature last year. In a game of inches, a pitch can either set up a big play or lead to a fumble. Just look at Week 1.

All of this is to say that the Washington Redskins are likely to turn back to the stretch offense after coming out flat in the first two weeks. Robert Griffin III told the media he was ready to be that spark for the offense and specifically cited a return to the run.

Posturing for the Lions? Maybe. But if not, why not?

Many quarterbacks are elite runners 'or' throwers, but few possess the deadly accuracy of Robert Griffin III running and throwing. Last season, he led the NFL with 85 play-action drop backs, leading the league in play-action completions.

Better yet, he averaged 5.8 more yards per pass completion off play-action as opposed to standard drop back last season.

'And' is better.

Robert Griffin III sells the trickery of pass-action and zone-read well, so he thrives in systems that highlight those plays. It would also help against the pass rush, as the Redskins have become one of the most blitzed teams in the league through Week 2.

If the matchup is right, look for a Redskins return to the zone-read, play-action, bootleg rollouts the team employed last season.

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Question: @Redskins are we going to sign a safety or a cornerback this week? Our secondary is killing us. #hailmail

--Easy Money (@EasyMoney81)


Answer: No, and there are a number of factors in play there.

Under head coach Mike Shanahan, the Redskins have drafted incredibly well, taking high-ceiling players like Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris and Ryan Kerrigan that started Week 1 and exceled out of the gate.

But there are also high-ceiling players that need time to adjust to the NFL game, like Trent Williams in 2010 and the rookie defensive backs this season. Clearly Williams' Pro Bowl performance in Year 3 shows that good things come with patience, but aren't always pretty on the front end.

The 2013 Redskins Draft Class was heavy on potential and in need of seasoning. Bacarri Rambo and David Amerson have played a large role on defense early, but are still very much getting accustomed to the NFL.

They will be picked on. They will look severely overmatched at times. But with any luck, they will get better, and their development from training camp on suggests this will be the case.

The other angle on this discussion is a lack of available cap space and the shortage of available upgrades in the secondary. Safety Kerry Rhodes is the toast of available free agents, and coming into a new system at age 31 would provide neither short-term nor long-term relief.

Barring injury, this is likely to be the group the Redskins ride with this year. It may be inexperienced in some areas and ineffective in others, but given the preparation and potential the coaching staff has invested in, execution with this group is the final key to success.

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Question: @Redskins #HailMail: Why did Jordan Reed get more targets than Fred Davis on Sunday & does this mean he's taken over TE1 duties?

--Our Uncle Skins (@UncleSkins)

 

Answer: No, to being listed at the top of the depth chart, but that may be a matter of semantics.

The Shanahans are loyal when the team is performing well, but show no fear in going with the hot hand for a spark. Right now, that appears to be Jordan Reed at tight end.

Reed was a surprise pick by the Redskins with their second overall pick in the 2013, addressing a position of strength with a player that was injured and supposedly had character concerns.

It turns out that the Redskins would pick up two talented safeties later in the draft (Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo), and that Reed is a class act and student of the game.

That's not necessarily a slight on Fred Davis, but the Redskins know what they have in him, including a reported one-year contract. They have every reason to see if Reed is the guy that can carry the load both now and in the future.

Reed has been outstanding in a very limited sample size, with eight receptions on nine targets for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Beyond the numbers, he has been Robert Griffin III's outlet receiver under pressure, and certainly has the ability to be effective in the red zone and down the middle.

So far he leads the team in snaps from the tight end position, and leads Redskins tight ends in all statistical categories, including snaps.

Head coach Mike Shanahan was straight forward with the media on the issue, saying that snaps and opportunities are predicated on preparation and performance.

This is a coaching staff that takes a lot away from practice film and Reed is clearly showing that he can handle the responsibility.

On the playing field, Reed has corraled nearly everything thrown his way, including a touchdown pass thrown behind him. Quarterbacks appreciate that type of effort.

Will the Redskins see a shift in the depth chart? Probably not.. But look for Reed to continue getting the opportunities and become the go-to option at tight end.

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Question: #HailMail why does Alfred Morris always hit a home run for his td celebration?

--Tyler Flannery (@FlanneryTyler)

Answer: Unlike most athletes who do elaborate, self-celebratory touchdown celebrations, Alfred Morris celebrates with a tribute to members of the York and Lee County All-Star baseball team.

Seriously.

For Morris, who had no planned touchdown celebration as rookie, it came as a revelation after watching the team play baseball during OTAs last year.

The kids asked him to do a celebration for them, which Morris congenially agreed to.

Little did anyone know that the obscure sixth-round pick would do it 13 times his rookie season: dropping the ball, swinging for the fences and watching the baseball fly out of sight.

He closes out every swing by flashing the universal "OK" sign with both hands, which represent owl eyes, a tribute to his Florida Atlantic alma mater.

While most Redskins fans appreciate the celebration when the team is winning, Morris took criticism for his touchdown celebration in Week 1, after he had already fumbled twice to open the game.

But it's not about personal performance or anything related to Morris. It's an appreciation of the school that got him to the NFL and making good on a promise to a bunch of kids from the York and Lee County All-Star team.

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