When executed well, the play-action pass can leave even the toughest, well-schooled defense looking a step slow and shaky.
According to FootballOutsiders.com, no NFL team in 2012 utilized play-action more — and better — than the Redskins. Washington, which used play-action on 42 percent of its plays, posted an NFL-best defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) rating when faking the run and throwing the ball. DVOA measures how a team fares relative to the league average in certain situations and considers numerous factors, including the quality of opposition.
The Redskins’ play-action offense was likely helped by numerous factors, with a mobile, accurate, strong-armed quarterback in Robert Griffin III one major reason Washington’s play-fakes vexed the opposition. Moreover, Washington has a robust running game that very much needed to be respected.
Dallas, one of Washington’s NFC East rivals, ran play-action a league-low 11 percent of the time in 2012, per Football Outsiders. However, the Cowboys were better-than-average when passing off the run-fake.
For the record, the Jets were the league’s worst team at throwing off play-action in 2012, per DVOA.