Defending Washington’s offense and RGIII’s wrinkles often comes down to the second man. When the first man commits, the second man makes the difference.
As has been said ad nauseam, the read is designed to enhance defensive conflict. You can crash or contain. Your choice dictates what the offense does. But that’s just the first component. Against those option concepts, the first defender can’t win because RGIII is a smart runner that won’t misread his man. So the second man to the ball is just as important.
Dallas adjusted in the fourth quarter. Washington ran the same concept all night. Isolate the edge linebacker and let him dictate the direction. Shanahan dialed it up at the start of their penultimate drive in the fourth. Pistol formation with Morris as the back and a blocker flanking RGIII. He sticks the ball out for the hand-off as the blocker moves across the formation. He reads (I believe) Ware in a wider technique.
As soon as Ware crashes down on Morris, (I believe) Sims loops from the inside shoulder of the offensive tackle into the abandoned lane. Except he pushed his pursuit too far wide. Instead of meeting RGIII in the gap with a chance at a clean shot, he gets caught flat-footed in an awkward position where an arm tackle is his best shot. Dallas had the perfect design called for the situation. The defender just didn’t execute.
The fact that Washington’s inside and outside stretch concepts are the best in the NFL doesn’t help defenses though. It’s a tough ground game to gain traction against.