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Redskins gamble on RG3's health with option attack

Donovan McNabb made news in the offseason when he suggested that Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan might not be willing to shape his offensive philosophy around Robert Griffin III's talents.

Shanny blew the doors off that conversation Sunday in a 38-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. On the heels of a sluggish first half, the Redskins went into a frenzy over the final 30 minutes, leaning heavily on an array of double- and triple-option play calls that caught the Bengals by surprise.

This stuff works, to a degree. In a scheme looking more like a Saturday afternoon at Baylor than a Sunday at FedEx Field, Griffin was set free to run and maneuver his way up and down the field. After an unproductive first half, the rookie looked comfortable flipping the ball to his backs or carrying it himself into the fray. The bad news is that RG3 took a beating on these plays.

"I don't know how many times I got hit, but I know I did get hit a lot," Griffin said, via The Associated Press.

Washington used the option eight times on a 10-play, 86-yard scoring march in the third quarter and never looked back. Griffin took a handful of big hits, which has to be a concern for the team.

"The one thing I won't do personally is quit or play scared," Griffin said. "I've never played scared in my life. So it doesn't matter how many times they hit me, I'm going to continue to get back up. Even if they have to cart me off the field, I'm going to get off that cart and walk away."

Griffin is talented enough to move the ball in this scheme, but he's not going to escape punishment as NFL defenses gather footage on the Redskins' option package and successfully game plan for it.

There's nothing to suggest RG3 can't survive and thrive in a more prototypical NFL offense. Shanahan deserves credit for his flexibility, but this team enters dangerous territory if Griffin is continually rolling into defenders instead of being shielded from them.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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