How Gruden's Offense Will Carry Over To Washington
Under Mike and Kyle Shanahan, the Washington Redskins had the ninth-ranked offense in the NFL in 2013. They averaged 369.7 total yards, 234.4 passing yards and 135.2 rushing yards per game. The Redskins' pass and rush games were the 16th and fifth best in the league, respectively. The D.C. club had a potent attack, but how will this be affected – for better or for worse – under new coach Jay Gruden's offensive system?
For starters, there's two pieces of good news for Redskins fans: 1) the Bengals had the 10th-best offense last season — one spot behind Washington — but managed to score six more points per game and 2) the team has more weapons than Cincinnati had the past three years under Gruden. So we know Gruden can do more with less, and now he's been given the reins to a team with a plethora of deadly weapons.
In 2013, the Bengals averaged 29 pass plays per game versus 25 rush plays. This can and will be a good thing for the Redskins. Cincinnati realistically had one top-notch receiver in WR AJ Green. And the only other players that got involved in the pass game were TEs Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert, who had only 85 catches combined in 2013. The Redskins, on the other hand, have WRs DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon and Andre Roberts. These three combined had 238 catches, 3,149 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2013. And not to forget soon-to-be sophomore TE Jordan Reed is coming off a stellar rookie season in Washington, and he'll be another strong piece for QB Robert Griffin III to throw to. In short, the Redskins will benefit from an offense that passes more than they run the ball.
The Bengals’ offense under Gruden also liked to utilize the deep ball. Play-action fakes or long plays that ended in the ball being thrown 40-plus yards downfield were commonplace in Cincinnati. The problem with this was that QB Andy Dalton had only one deep threat, which was Green. Fortunately for Washington, the Redskins have the ultimate deep threat in Jackson and can even look towards Garçon and Roberts in case Jackson is removed from the play. Garçon had 113 catches and 1,346 yards last year while Roberts has 4.46 (40 yard-dash) speed. Comparably, Griffin has a much stronger arm than Dalton, making Gruden that much more likely to dial up deep pass plays.
Even though the run game played second fiddle to the pass game in regards to volume in Cincinnati, the running game was just as important. It consisted of a two-headed attack featuring RBs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard. Green-Ellis was the tough, big and bruising back, while Bernard was more of the finesse back whose speed was utilized. Once again, the Redskins have even better personnel to pull off this style of offense.
Washington's main back is Alfred Morris. He already has a Pro Bowl nod and was named first team All-Pro in his rookie season, not to mention 2,888 rushing yards, 20 touchdowns and a 4.7 yards per carry average in two career seasons. He is an even faster and more agile version of Green-Ellis. He runs through defenders and is relentless when he carries the ball. Given his success and talent, he'll remain the main running back for Washington. Instead of splitting carries like Green-Ellis and Bernard, Morris will probably receive 75 percent of the carries, with the other 25 percent to be divvied up between Roy Helu Jr. and Lache Seastrunk.
Helu Jr. is more experienced than Seastrunk and was a solid backup last year. Seastrunk is coming in as a rookie, but given his talent and running style that reminds me of Bernard, I feel he'll be the third back on the depth chart, leap-frogging veteran Evan Royster. Plus, Helu has a style more similar to Morris, so to get in a different type of back, I feel Gruden will look to Seastrunk's speed to mix things up.
In 2014, the Redskins will operate a more pass-heavy offense. Last season, Washington was forced to look over the middle for short to intermediate passes mainly to Garçon, who had to carry the offense. Every once in a while, the Redskins would throw in a long ball to WR Aldrick Robinson. Now, deep throws will be much more frequent. Washington will run a wide-open style of offense, where every part of the field will be usable and Gruden will give Griffin the freedom to do what he wants. And in regards to the run game, the Redskins will expand on what they did last year as both Morris and Helu are returning, while Seastrunk will bring a new dynamic to the already stellar group of running backs.