In an otherwise grim day for rookie quarterbacks, Robert Griffin III's debut against the New Orleans Saints went about as well as it could possibly go. He went 19-for-26, threw for 320 yards with two touchdowns, and, most importantly, led the Redskins to a 40-32 Week 1 win. Following the win, many were quick to applaud the Redskins’ approach, which seemed to allow Griffin to get comfortable with quick, easy throws. But the real hero of Washington’s offensive success wasn’t Kyle or Mike Shanahan. In fact, he isn’t even on the staff. It was Art Briles, Griffin’s college coach at Baylor, and, based on what the Redskins showed in Week 1, the team’s de facto co–game planner along with Washington’s head coach.
Coaching is about putting players in positions to succeed. Griffin’s potential is nearly limitless, but as a rookie playing his first game, he’s not Tom Brady just yet, and asking him to throw 40 or 50 traditional drop-back passes was not going to give Washington its best chance to win. Shanahan has clearly gone into this year with an open mind — something many otherwise excellent pro coaches don't do often enough — and he’s blended his tried-and-true West Coast/zone-blocking offense with some of the best and simplest principles Griffin executed so well at Baylor.