NFC East: San Francicso

RICHMOND, Va., -- Defensive coordinators around the NFL spent time studying the zone read-option and picking the brain of those who have dealt with it longer. Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has not done the same from an offensive perspective.

His rationale? If defenses commit to stopping the zone read, other vulnerabilities will open up.

“I’m looking forward to see how they do it,” Shanahan said. “There are a lot of smart coaches out there. Guys can stop anything they want to stop. The key is what are they going to do to stop it and what do they make vulnerable? Is that going to help the outside zone? Will it help our play pass? Will it help our dropback? You can stop anything you want. The key is making someone stop something and make them cheat their defense to do it and then having other plays and talent at certain positions to counter what they’re doing. It’s a wait-and-see approach.”

Shanahan said he doesn’t necessarily quiz Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett on adjustments he thinks defenses will make against the zone read-option. But Shanahan said he gets a good look at those potential adjustments during practice based on the Redskins’ coverage scheme. The Redskins also will face San Francisco, which uses the zone read as well, this season.

When the Redskins offense uses the pistol formation, the team's defense will adjust. That provides Shanahan an idea of what he might face from other teams.

“It’s not necessarily, ‘How do they stop the zone read and how are we going to make the zone read work?’ “ Shanahan said. “It’s like, ‘All right, this works good. It’s not great to run the zone read versus this look. What other play do we have that is awesome versus this look? Let’s get good at that because eventually we are going to see this look and when we see this look we don’t want to run it. Are we going to be able to execute this other play that they’ve just opened up?’ That’s really what we’ve been trying to get good at.”

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