Down 14-0 Sunday, the Washington Redskins decided to throw a change-up at the Oakland Raiders’ defense.
With 2:41 remaining in the first quarter, and from their own 35-yard line, the Redskins switched to a no-huddle offense. Nine plays later, Washington had reached the Raiders’ 2-yard-line on a Robert Griffin III pass to Pierre Garcon to set up a John Potter field goal.
Though Washington didn’t score a touchdown, it had put its first points on the board in what would be a 24-14 victory over the Raiders.
The Redskins stuck with the no-huddle, and continued to operate much more efficiently for the rest of the game with it.
“It gives you a little spark,” Griffin told the Washington Post. “I’ve run no-huddle a lot at all levels of football, high school and college and here. It was a spark for us. It caught them off guard. Our team did a good job executing it. It’s a curveball you can throw every now and then.”
On Monday, Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said the success Washington had with it might spark other opponents to use the no-huddle against them.
“Yeah, I would think that we would see a little bit more of that,” Allen said at a news conference with Bay Area media. He added that he thought, “They grabbed the tempo of the game a little bit right there,” but said he though the Oakland defense responded.
“I don’t think at any point in the game that the no-huddle was any more of a factor than the normal pace of the game,” he said.
To some observers, however, the Redskins’ switch to a no-huddle had a big impact. As John Keim of ESPN.com noted, it caused Oakland’s defense to play a more basic scheme. And under coordinator Jason Tarver and Allen this season, the Oakland defense has been much more dynamic, changing alignments and blitzing from all points.
“It wasn’t about changing the tempo, though that was a huge benefit,” Keim wrote. “It also was a way to force the Raiders into a more simplified scheme. The Raiders present so many looks that they cause offenses to think a little too much, taking away from the ability to make plays. … But when the Redskins went into the no-huddle, the Raiders could not change up their looks and it helped the (Washington) offense generate momentum.”
Now, the Raiders (1-3) head into a Sunday night game against the Chargers (2-2) at O.co Coliseum – the game has been moved to an 8:30 kickoff – against a Chargers team that has had good success running a no-huddle offense this season under new coach Mike McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.
It’s a different, slower type of no-huddle, in that sometimes the Chargers will let the clock wind down while quarterback Philip Rivers reads the defense and makes the calls and adjustments. But San Diego can also throw it into a higher gear and pick up the pace. And, after watching what the Redskins did Sunday – and what the Broncos did in a no-huddle offense earlier this season vs. the Raiders -- they could do just that.
Rivers has thrived in the new offensive scheme, and in the no-huddle against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday was terrific in a 30-21 victory, throwing for 401 yards and three TDs.
“I feel in sync,” Rivers told reporters after the game. “I have a rhythm and I’m comfortable in the pocket when we get that no-huddle going.”
The task for the Raiders Sunday night will be to knock him out that rhythm and deal with the no-huddle. So far in 2013, however, that’s been a tough assignment.