- John Keim, ESPN Washington Redskins reporter
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1. I’ll start with this: I don’t know what sort of passer Griffin eventually will become. I’m just not that smart, despite what I tell my kids. I do know Griffin needs more help than he did a year ago. There’s too often quick pressure (not just by the interior either), preventing Griffin from stepping into his throws.
2. Griffin shares in this blame and needs to improve as a pocket passer in many ways. I also know that Griffin is smart, works hard and hates losing. When you mix talent with those other parts, it usually turns out well. But it’s imperative that he focus hard on this in the offseason. No reason to think he won’t, but it’s a must nonetheless. To make a judgment on his career based off some bad throws or bad games is silly.
3. I think one area he can improve in the offseason is his footwork in the pocket when things break down. Sometimes you just have to flick a pass; it happens. Other times, though, once you start anticipating coverages faster, you can get your feet around better to make stronger throws. Griffin looks like he has to make too many arm throws. Something to ask about.
4. I do agree with Griffin that there were times the Eagles definitely took plays away (by anticipating the play-action), such as the first play from scrimmage when the Redskins ran a two-man route. The Eagles played it right, with five in coverage and with DeMeco Ryans dropping to the middle and then to the right to take away Pierre Garcon’s dig route. With no one open, Griffin made something happen by running and drawing a personal foul. An immobile quarterback would have had to throw the ball away or take a sack.
5. Griffin clearly missed tight end Logan Paulsen on a deep out to the right. It was a good play-action fake; Paulsen was wide open. Griffin did have a hand in his face, but the play was there and he did get the throw off. And, yes, Griffin did have guys in his face quite a bit. It’s not always because he holds the ball a long time, either. There were times when the pocket would break down in less than two seconds. I have to believe it impacts decision-making even on plays where the pocket is clean.
6. At times Griffin starts to rely on his legs a lot like last season, pulling the ball down and running early. Griffin had a nice gain of 14 yards from deep in his own territory on the second drive. But here’s the thing: He had Garcon open on a dig route off a zone-read play-action fake. Yes, on first down. Griffin even had a clear throwing lane, but pulled the ball down and ran. Later in the game he had a chance to let Jordan Reed run with the ball, but instead opted to tuck it 7 yards deep and run himself. Good motto: Feed the big fellas who can break tackles.
7. Griffin could have avoided his first sack by hitting Garcon on an underneath crossing route. It was second-and-13 and the play would have gained 6 or 7 yards. The pressure was relatively quick (2.2 seconds; the stunting linebacker was unblocked because the Redskins slid their line the other way and both linemen on the left side were occupied). But Griffin had a chance to unload the ball.
8. Griffin needed to stick with another first-and-10 zone-read play-action pass. Another two-man route that, yes, was open. But this is where that internal clock gets you and where that quick pressure plays with your mind. There was no immediate danger, but had Griffin waited another couple tenths of a second, he would have had Reed breaking over the middle (it’s where Griffin was looking). Instead, he swung to the right to Leonard Hankerson. Griffin had 3.5 seconds in the pocket this time.
9. Loved the bullet Griffin threw to Garcon on the run on a third-and-4. When Griffin improvised, or was outside the pocket, he fared better. It’s not just about rolling him out, either; you don’t want to roll out too much because it shrinks the coverage area. But when he gets outside and can be, well, RG III, then it works. He was RG III on the touchdown pass to Darrel Young. The touchdown to Aldrick Robinson was set up by a fake stretch zone and a backside linebacker crashing inside too hard. That bought Griffin time to get outside.
10. I know Roy Helu did not do a good job blocking the linebacker on the sack/fumble. But Griffin was sacked after 2.8 seconds; that’s too long in that area. He wanted Reed, and Reed was open at the cut, but Griffin held onto the ball. It was there.
11. But Griffin did an excellent job on the 21-yard slant to Garcon. He had to execute a play fake, turn and deliver the ball – and the pocket collapsed in 1.4 seconds. Griffin adjusted his throw and still got it to an open Garcon.
12. Best throw of the day: the 28-yard strike to Santana Moss on third-and-25 in the fourth quarter. Just a strong, decisive throw in which Griffin could step into the delivery. He also threw with some anticipation, something he did not always do in this game.
13. Say what you want about Griffin’s day (and at times it was bad). But he did respond in the final quarter and did not let a bad game keep him down. Yes, he's still maturing on and off the field, but leadership is not always about how you parse words, it’s how you respond. Griffin did so. His day ended poorly with a terrible decision. Now he must keep responding.
Thoughts and observations on Robert Griffin III after re-watching his game against the Philadelphia Eagles: 1. I’ll start with this: I don’t know what sort of passer Griffin eventually will become.