Vikings preparing for Washington's zone-stretch play

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- As much as the Minnesota Vikings' defense will have to focus on preparing for Robert Griffin III and the wrinkles the Washington Redskins can add to their offense if their quarterback is indeed back on the field this week, defensive coordinator George Edwards is staying mindful of another staple of the Redskins' scheme that could give the Vikings problems on Sunday.

The Redskins' zone-stretch play, a key element of the team's running game since Mike Shanahan was the head coach, will stress the Vikings' defense in much the same manner the Green Bay Packers did a month earlier in a 42-10 win. Eddie Lacy ran for 105 yards on 13 carries that night, doing plenty of his work off the play, which forces defenses to pursue wide and creates cutback opportunities if the defensive front gets too spread out. The Vikings will see that play plenty on Sunday against Alfred Morris and the Redskins, and they will have to be ready.

"It’s sort of like what we saw against Green Bay. They are really going to stretch it to the front side, and then if you’ve got the edge set on the defense there, he’ll stick the foot in the ground," Edwards said. "This guy is more of a one-cut guy where he’s going to get downhill off the stretch play. It’s very similar to teams we’ve faced, and if you remember when Houston used to run the same type of scheme. We saw it against Green Bay. Certain teams do it a little bit different in how they block the back side, but from that aspect of it that’s what we’re looking at this week."

The Vikings have spent part of their week looking back at other examples of teams running the play against them, though the Redskins do bring a different challenge with Griffin's bootlegs off play action. When Morris or Roy Helu has the ball, the key for the Vikings is for their backside defenders to stay disciplined and alert.

"You can’t relax," Edwards said. "And the tough thing with this team, they run so many bootlegs and so many things coming off that action that sometimes you see guys wanting to get up the field. That’s what we can’t allow to happen. You’ve got to be able to work and leverage the ball on the back side, just flat down the line, but don’t turn your shoulders where you’re too flat and can’t get back out to play, the boot, and those kinds of things. It’ll be some stress on the backside to make sure that we can handle the cutback off of it."