QB Watch: Redskins' Robert Griffin III

September, 25, 2013
9/25/13
9:00
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A weekly analysis of the Washington Redskins' quarterback play:

Griffin
Rewind: Robert Griffin III finally started to incorporate his legs; this offense will struggle if he’s confined solely to the pocket. Washington was able to use more bootlegs, and Griffin even carried twice on a zone-read option. He wasn’t as explosive running from this look, gaining a combined 10 yards, and the Lions focused more on stopping running back Alfred Morris on this play because they didn’t fear Griffin’s legs. But his 21-yard scramble in the fourth quarter was vintage Griffin -- until he fumbled the ball at the end of the play. But it was a safe and smart decision to get down; he failed in the execution. Coach Mike Shanahan said Griffin made a “great throw” on his interception. But it still looked like a questionable decision given the situation, even if receiver Pierre Garcon was not running back hard on the pass. Griffin had his moments, and if Aldrick Robinson had held on to the ball for a 57-yard touchdown, the quarterback would have been hailed a hero. Griffin’s timing is returning, and the good news for Washington is that he keeps inching forward.

Fast-forward: The Oakland Raiders have played two excellent quarterbacks already in Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck and Denver’s Peyton Manning. That’s a big reason opposing quarterbacks have a 120.0 passer rating against them, the highest in the NFL. Their secondary plays undisciplined in coverage at times, leading to big gains. Oakland allows big plays, giving up 8.1 yards per attempt, as quarterbacks have completed 75.5 percent of their throws against the Raiders. So this should be a good week for Griffin to keep improving.

Unwanted numbers: The Redskins work best when they have a more balanced attack, allowing them to hurt teams even more on play-action passes. That’s where they excelled a year ago. In 2012, they used play-action on 42 percent of their drop-backs compared to 24 percent this season. They’re averaging only 7.3 yards per attempt on play-action compared to 11.7 last season. The good news for Washington is that Oakland allows 4.1 yards per run, giving the Redskins a shot at setting up their play-action.

Prediction: Griffin and the Redskins will have a more balanced attack Sunday, which means they probably won’t throw for more than 300 yards again. But Griffin will have a more productive day -- and not just piling up yards after his team falls behind by double digits. He’ll have his most efficient game of the season, something that will give the Redskins a good feeling entering their bye week.

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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