It seems that somebody said lately Mike and Kyle Shanahan were unwilling to make adjustments to their offense to accommodate what players do well. I can’t seem to remember who it was, maybe some bitter, washed-up quarterback.
But it you look at the evidence objectively, you will find that this is just not true. Here is one example of a pretty major adjustment that was made to cater to the abilities of one of their players. This is the article from late last season.
During the live chat at the Giants game, the topic of why the ball is pitched to Roy Helu on many plays instead of Helu getting the ball via the traditional handoff. Mike Shanahan was asked about this during his Monday press conference.
“It kind of had to do with some of his skills [and] just looking at him and how he handles the toss,” Shanahan said.
He then went on to give the details of what the advantages of the pitch as opposed to the handoff:
Well, when a guy gets a toss, you have a little more separation between the offensive line. You have the option with his speed to go outside or, if they over-pursue, he’s a little bit more downhill. He can cutback without pressing the line of scrimmage.
The second part is interesting; the initial comment is revealing.
Prior to Helu, Shanahan’s primary ball carriers with the Redskins have been Clinton Portis, Ryan Torain, Keiland Williams, and Tim Hightower. They may occasionally have received a pitch on a play designed to go to the outside. But on every play designed to go inside and most going around end, the ball was handed off. Over the past few weeks, however, and particularly on Sunday, Helu has started getting the ball on the pitch more and more regardless of where the play is heading.
The thing is, the conventional wisdom is that the offense of Mike and Kyle Shanahan is set in stone. They are supposed to be too stubborn and have egos too big to adjust the offense to the skills of a given player. You adjust to what they want or you are out the door.
But the Shanahans thought that Helu’s skill set, his ability to cut in the open field and his knack for being able decide where the opening in the defense is would be best utilized by pitching him the ball. So they made the adjustment to the offense.
And that, of course, is something Mike and Kyle don’t do. Except when they do it.