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Are People Underestimating Kyle Shanahan?

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servumtuum

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I think a lot of the negative stuff I hear about Kyle Shanahan is because some fans are misunderstanding the strategy he's using.

Here's a breakdown and example that I happen to like because it shows how we're confusing defenses with what we're running.

REDSKINS ANALYSIS
X's & O's: Another Week, Another New Wrinkle In Redskins Offense
2


By UkRedskin on Oct 18, 12:00p
Every week that goes by, we see a new wrinkle in the Redskins option offense. This week was no different. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has been getting pretty creative and it's catching defenses off-guard.


Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is currently running one of the most productive offenses in the NFL right now. He's done a brilliant job (in my opinion, anyway) of giving defenses and their coordinators headaches. Admittedly, having Robert Griffin III as your quarterback helps a great deal, but Kyle has done more than his fair share to make things easier for Griffin. Here are the last two plays of the first quarter to show you what I mean.

Lets first study the personnel group for this play. We have two tight ends (Fred Davis and Niles Paul), a running back (Alfred Morris), a receiver (Joshua Morgan) and then Brandon Banks, who switches between receiver and running back. With Banks is in the huddle, the defense doesn't know if they should call it as two backs and one receiver, or vice versa. Either way, with two tight ends, surely the Vikings can expect a run heavy formation, right? Wrong. Take a look.





The tight ends are actually the furthest two players from the offensive line. Had the Vikings been in man coverage, this would have caused plenty of concern as they scramble to sort out the coverage responsibilities.

But then the Redskins throw a twist in the mix.





Both Banks and Paul motion back towards the offensive line. Within seconds the formation has changed from four receiving options, to this:





Suddenly, there are four guys in the backfield, all threats to run the ball.





The Redskins end up running a variation of a play we saw against the Bengals, but this time they have a lead blocker for Griffin should he need it. Griffin hands off inside on the zone read on this particular play and Morris picks up three or four yards. But the fact that the Vikings defense went from the mentality of having to cover four receiving threats, to four running threats (Paul in theory could have been used as an inside shovel pass on a triple option if they wanted to) in a matter of seconds is amazing.

But the very next play, we see the exact same scenario. Logan Paulsen replaced Niles Paul, but otherwise they line up and motion into the formation the same.





Having just seen the Redskins run an option read from the same formation from the previous play, they adjust and prepare for the possibility of Griffin keeping the ball. But this time the Redskins run a play-action fake, with Fred Davis on the outside running a slant against a smaller corner. Davis' size and athleticism should see him beat most cornerbacks on the inside.





Which is exactly what Davis manages to do. Griffin makes the easy completion and its a big first down.

I've shone praise on Kyle Shanahan previously, but I can't help but reiterate how well he's calling games offensively right now. The way he's manipulating good NFL defenses, like the Vikings, into creating good match ups and confusing them is fantastic. From my experience at FedEx Field back in week three, I know a fair proportion of fans don't like Mike Shanahan, but I really hope they can appreciate Kyle.
Link: http://www.hogshaven.com/2012/10/18/3517502/xs-os-another-week-another-new-wrinkle-in-redskins-offense

I'm not on a "Kyle can do no wrong" soapbox, believe me, I've questioned some of his playcalling myself. I'm just saying that what appears confusing to us as fans watching the game is also often designed to create that same confusion in the opposing team's D.
 

Elephant

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I have to admit I have been a huge critic of the questionable calls at critical times, but I have to admit that he called one hell of a game against the Vikings. In the clip I attached from NBC Sports, you see the Vikings confused and out of sorts, especially Jared Allen. He still had a questionable play call at a crucial moment against the Vikings that could have been disastrous when they pitched it back to Morris for a 4 yard loss on 3rd and 1, but their defense was caught of guard most of the game. After the first couple of drives, we did pretty much what we wanted to do.
 

tshile

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I think people are definitely underestimating him. When I say people I mean fans/media, because people in the league have much respect for him (apparently, thats according to what I've read/heard, i may be wrong)

I think the fact that he's the head coach's son has given some people the idea that he doesn't deserve the role, that he's not smart enough, or that if it wasn't for his father he wouldn't be there.

I hope the Redskins continue to improve. Because nice break downs like that can turn into very critical analysis and running Kyle out of town if they don't improve.

The same play calling and scheme that the break down is praising for confusing the vikings and exploiting matchups has been the source of criticism for being 'too cute' when the Redskins lose a game.
 

Om

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Like all serious football fans, I take the liberty of criticizing certain calls, even venture critiques on adjustment made/not made. But it's always with the knowledge that I have the severely limited viewpoint of the fan sitting at home. No coaches meetings, no headset telling me what each play call was supposed to be, no knowledge of who may be hurting, owning his opponent, getting owned by his opponent, etc.

Overall I've had no real issues with Kyle's style othan than the occasional impression over the past two seasons that he acted as if he was driving a Testarossa when in fact was driving a '68 VW bus. That can be a problem on the downhill run at 90 mph in the Alps that is the NFL.

One thing I've never lost sight of is that the man was very successful in Houston. Very successful. Now that he has a skilled driver here, as he did there, I'm kinda curious about where he might take this thing.

Guard rails be damned. :)
 

servumtuum

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I have to admit I have been a huge critic of the questionable calls at critical times, but I have to admit that he called one hell of a game against the Vikings. In the clip I attached from NBC Sports, you see the Vikings confused and out of sorts, especially Jared Allen. He still had a questionable play call at a crucial moment against the Vikings that could have been disastrous when they pitched it back to Morris for a 4 yard loss on 3rd and 1, but their defense was caught of guard most of the game. After the first couple of drives, we did pretty much what we wanted to do.
The interesting part to me is that we're presenting opposing DC's with a serious problem.

This was an interview with Alan Williams, the Vikes DC, prior to last Sunday's game:
Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams admires the multi-dimensional talents of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. But that appreciation quickly fades as Williams zeroes in on game-planning against the standout rookie, a task, he says, that’s as arduous as you might think.
“Always a headache,” Williams said. “Anyone who can run the football and pass the ball and have a good running game on top of that with the tailback, it’s a headache.”
After all, Griffin has been dangerous with his arm, completing an NFL-best 69.1 percent of his passes for 1161 yards and four touchdowns. He’s also run the ball 42 times for 241 yards and four scores. Washington has gotten creative with its playbook to utilize Griffin’s talents, mixing in doses of option offense that Williams concedes are “a nightmare for any coordinator.”
As for the last time Williams had to prepare against an offense with the option significantly incorporated?
“It was probably the Delaware Wing-T, Coach Tubby Raymond in the college days,” he said. “And it drove me crazy. So I’m glad the NFL isn’t filled with those kinds of offenses.”
Williams has shown his defensive players an endless queue of RG3 clips, going all the way back to the preseason to issue a reminder of just how dangerous the young quarterback has been on the move. He’s also pointed out the big hits that the Rams, Bengals and Falcons put on Griffin when he ran option plays.
“They treated him like a running back and they tried to hit him every chance they got,” Williams said. “And that’s the only chance you have when you’re trying to defend a guy like that.”
Link: http://www.startribune.com/sports/vikings/blogs/173738101.html

And he had five full game tapes to study to prepare for the Redskins offense with Robert at the helm.

And it still surprised and confused them.

We're a nightmare. :devilish:
 

TomE

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Sometime ago I asked this board about the "IT FACTOR" of a franchise QB.

If we drafted some guy, how would we know, the general response..... we'd just know when we saw "it"..... kinda vague by my standards.

My acumen regarding this judgment is limited, lots of visuals since Sonny, a couple of live games with Joey and Gibbs 2 but Griff seems to be pretty damn good.

Aside from the bravado of youth in taking on the physical side of the NFL, I'd say that he has "it".


Am I wrong?
Is it too early to tell?
Just being dumb?
 

Lanky Livingston

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I think Griffin would make ANY offensive coordinator look like a genius. Personally, I think we're winning despite Kyle's playcalling, but perhaps I'm being overly critical.

Against the Vikings he called a great game, but was still bailed out by Griffin on the 76-yard run and two turnovers from the D which resulted in 14 points. Also, almost put the D in an impossible position trying to force the ball to Banks; thankfully he fumbled out of bounds.

I'm not ready to heap the praise just yet.
 

Om

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This kid has more "it" than any player I have seen come into the NFL since I started watching in 1970. And I say that without a hint of qualification or reservation. Doesn't mean he's on his way to a Hall of Fame career--there to many variables out there that could keep it from happening.

But as of today this guy heads the It List.
 

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Maybe Lanky but the QB draw call that Griff turned into a 76 yard TD was a great call at the right time. Granted, Griff did a little extra with it but the call itself was fantastic even if it doesn't go for a TD.
 

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Kyle is certainly capable but then he comes up with crappy game plans like the Atlanta game, a game we assuredly could have won. That is where he frustrates me.
 

tshile

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Kyle is certainly capable but then he comes up with crappy game plans like the Atlanta game, a game we assuredly could have won. That is where he frustrates me.
But is that because Kyle Shanahan did something wrong/different as a play caller, or is it because Atlanta did something better, or is it an issue with players executing plays?

For whatever it's worth, I think it's a combination of everything. I just can't get over the fact that every time people criticize his play calling it's after a loss, and when they praise it it's after a win... surely he's not changing his play calling philosophy that much that drastically is he?
 

Lanky Livingston

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Maybe Lanky but the QB draw call that Griff turned into a 76 yard TD was a great call at the right time. Granted, Griff did a little extra with it but the call itself was fantastic even if it doesn't go for a TD.
It was a good call in that situation, however only because the two Vikings blitzed the same gap. If they had executed correctly, there's a chance we don't convert as Om pointed out. Punt, Vikings have the ball to take the lead.

EDIT: Did Kyle really call the draw? Or was it more of an option?
 
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tshile

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Yes... If the call doesn't work it was a bad call but since it worked its a good call.

My understanding is that Griffin made the call to run the draw based on what he saw but that the play itself was a called pass. So even if the draw doesn't work I don't know how much of that is Kyle's fault. I would credit Griffin for making the decision then executing as well as he did.
 

Lanky Livingston

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This kid has more "it" than any player I have seen come into the NFL since I started watching in 1970. And I say that without a hint of qualification or reservation. Doesn't mean he's on his way to a Hall of Fame career--there to many variables out there that could keep it from happening.

But as of today this guy heads the It List.
Speaking of RGIII and the Hall of Fame...
 

Elephant

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But is that because Kyle Shanahan did something wrong/different as a play caller, or is it because Atlanta did something better, or is it an issue with players executing plays?

For whatever it's worth, I think it's a combination of everything. I just can't get over the fact that every time people criticize his play calling it's after a loss, and when they praise it it's after a win... surely he's not changing his play calling philosophy that much that drastically is he?
Well, as a general statement, I think this may be true but a few of us on this site have been critical of him at least at some point in every game this year...or at least most games, win or lose.

And Lanky, from what I gathered from the video, the read was to Moss. On the sideline after the TD you hear Griff saying, I saw the double A gap blitz so I said...ok! And he took off.
 

tshile

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Well, as a general statement, I think this may be true but a few of us on this site have been critical of him at least at some point in every game this year...or at least most games, win or lose.
Yes, I was speaking more to the general sentiment you hear from anti-Kyle people - tv, radio, blogs, etc.
 

servumtuum

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They're running packaged plays, pass/pitch/handoff/QB draw/roll-out with throw or QB keep being decided by how the defense commits when the ball is snapped based on what the defense sees, or thinks it sees, in the formation-sort of an expansion of the idea of zone reads which, combined with Robert's football (and general) smarts and his throwing/running ability-compact quick release and quick foot speed-creates a situation in which, ideally, no matter what decision the defense makes it's wrong.

It actually muddles the difference between a pass play and a running play also since either can be done from a multiple of formations keeping the defense (and sometimes us :)) off-balance.
 

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Look, here is the thing. I don't care who the play caller is, they all have bad calls in a game. Every single one. Even Gibbs, who was, at his peak, the single best play caller I have ever seen in the game, had bad calls. Even when they are calling a good game.

Sometimes it's the wrong call. Sometimes it's bad execution by the offense. Sometimes it's the guys in the other colored jerseys just doing what they make a lot of money to do.
 

Elephant

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I agree Neo, but Kyle has the propensity to call the wrong play at exactly the wrong time. Maybe I notice it more because I understand the game a lot more than I did under Gibbs but I sure do see it more than I think we should with Kyle. I also have to remember Kyle is only 32, so...he is likely to be a little more reckless.
 

Beans

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Someone needs to find his playbook and delete the halfback toss. Any play that pitches the ball backwards 8 yards is just asking for it. Seriously.
 

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