Shanahan defends run-pass balance

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins couldn’t run the ball much in their first two games, not when they trailed by three touchdowns at halftime in each case. It was different Sunday: the Redskins were within a touchdown until late in the game.

Still, the pass-run disparity remained large. Quarterback Robert Griffin III attempted 50 passes; running back Alfred Morris ran the ball 15 times. Last season the Redskins were balanced, passing 442 times to 519 runs. Part of that stemmed from being in every game.

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said Sunday’s game dictated a shift from their game plan again. He did not point this out, but the Lions did a good job taking away the run in the second half with their interior linemen -- tackle Ndamukong Suh in particular. They used more eight-man fronts and focused on stopping Morris, holding him to 17 yards on eight carries.

Morris did have chances for better runs, but Detroit’s line did a good job getting off blocks to either plug holes or turn potential 8-yard gains into 4. That could be why 10 of Washington's first 12 plays in the fourth quarter were passes (though Griffin ran on three of those drop-backs) after a third quarter in which it ran seven times and passed eight.

But Shanahan’s point was simple: The Redskins threw more because of situations at the end of the half and game. The Redskins dropped back to pass four times at the end of the first half after getting the ball back with 38 seconds left. And once they trailed by 10 points with 4:02 remaining, the Redskins went to an all-aerial assault, dropping back 16 times.

So, of their 56 drop-backs (including two sacks and four Griffin runs), 19 occurred during pass-only situations. They were balanced on first down (excluding the final two drives of the game) with 14 pass drop-backs to 13 runs.

“That’s the type of ratio we’re looking for,” Shanahan said. “Once we’re into two-minute situations, those numbers get carried away one way or another, and that’s what happened.”