- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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ASHBURN, Va. -- Robert Griffin III knows he’s going to take a lot of hits. He also knows he can avoid at least some of them. As he continues to play the way he did in 2012, willing to run and not avoid contact in certain situations, the hits will add up.
Not that Griffin is already wondering how these hits will affect him long term or whether they will shorten his career. (Or, perhaps, he’s just not publicly wondering).
“I don’t think about it,” he said. “I think a lot of people do. It comes down to, you’ve got to take it week to week and not worry about the years down the road when it comes to those hits. You have the future in mind, but you’re still competitive on that day.”
That doesn’t mean he wants the amount of hits he had against Minnesota (18). Denver pounded him as well three weeks ago. Lest anyone think this is just because he runs, just know that a storyline in Indianapolis this season -- as it was a year ago -- was the number of hits on quarterback Andrew Luck. But he’s bigger than Griffin and hasn’t had two ACL surgeries.
“Bottom line, I can’t take those amount of hits,” Griffin said. “You don’t want to be hit that much. A lot of great quarterbacks don’t get hit that much. It’s not just me, it’s a lot of things that go into that. We just have to get better.”
He’s right; it’s not always on him, of course. Last week, the Minnesota Vikings applied quick pressure up the middle, mostly through center Will Montgomery and guard Chris Chester. There are times receivers aren’t winning one-on-one routes enough. But there are times Griffin can help himself. Against Denver, for example, there were times in the pocket that he held the ball for three seconds (though, again that was sometimes caused by receivers not getting open; other times it's a need to get rid of the ball quicker).
And against the Vikings, Griffin said there were two hits in particular he could have handled better. He was crunched at the goal line by four defenders while attempting to score. Running back Roy Helu was wide open in the right flat and could have made a similar dash, but Griffin took off and didn’t see him. Griffin said he could have avoided this hit by sliding, but he was trying to score.
“If I’m put in that situation again, then yeah maybe I will slide,” Griffin said. “I think if I hadn’t slipped, I probably would have gotten in. Once I did slip it was probably best to get down and avoid that hit.”
On the final drive, Griffin kept the ball around the right side off the zone read and cut upfield where two defenders hit him. Griffin pointed this out as another example of a hit he could have avoided by sliding.
“I have to do a better job of that, making sure it doesn’t happen and taking it upon myself to get down earlier,” he said. “I got two good shots in the game I could have avoided ... The other hits I did avoid. I’m OK at doing that, getting down and getting out of the way. [But] I’ve got to do a better job of that. It will come. And then we just have to protect.”
Yes, they do, especially when they have to abandon their play-action game, which gives the line a little more time to block thanks to the hesitation it causes.
"We have to improve there and make sure we keep our quarterback upright,” Griffin said. “It takes all of us. Yeah, I’ve been hit a bunch [recently] and everyone knows it, but you have to move on and make each game a new game and not worry what happened before.”