- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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LANDOVER, Md. -- The growing pains continued, with Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III floating a pass on an out route for an interception. But he also went through his progressions on other routes, moved the safety on another for a deep ball and at least led the offense on decent drives.
Griffin also reminded everyone that he still can’t slide, at least not consistently. But the real problem wasn’t the sliding as much as it was not throwing passes away.
Griffin completed 6 of 8 passes for 112 yards and an interception in Washington’s 24-23 win over Cleveland Monday night. He did not lead the Redskins on a scoring drive, but he did take them downfield on a couple of drives.
However, the first-team offense has yet to score a touchdown in two games.
A couple of things stood out after rewatching his night:
The good: Aside from one pass, Griffin had a good night throwing the ball. I liked how he went through his progressions a couple of times, including on his second pass of the game, working left to right -- and, just as important, getting his feet around -- on an out to receiver DeSean Jackson. It took 3.3 seconds and the line gave him enough protection.
I also liked the throw to fullback Darrel Young in the right flat with a linebacker in his face. Griffin was hit as he threw and had to do so as he fell back, but the ball was on target. He made a good throw to tight end Jordan Reed, who was open over the middle, but he gave Reed a chance to run after the catch.
The 49-yarder to Andre Roberts was a terrific throw as well. Griffin held the safety enough, with a look to the right and a slight pump. That’s all he needed because if he hadn’t done so, the safety would have broken up the play.
It also should be noted that there is no more talk about Griffin’s burst or speed. It’s been clear for a while and was so last night: Griffin moves like he used to.
I also liked on one pass in which Griffin dumped the ball to Roy Helu (he dropped it) that the quarterback started to abandon the pocket (unnecessarily) but instead re-planted and threw the ball.
The bad: The interception. Obviously Griffin should not have thrown the ball and he knows that. There were a couple of issues, which Griffin talked about last night for those wanting him to be accountable (he was). It started with how late he threw the ball. Jackson had broken on his route before the ball was thrown. Griffin needed to throw with anticipation, though Joe Haden was sitting hard on that route. The better decision, under duress, was to throw the ball away.
Griffin couldn’t put anything on the throw because of the pressure (Helu's missed block).
“I know I can’t throw it late and if I do it has to be a humdinger and it wasn’t a humdinger,” Griffin said. “I floated it out there. That’s what happens when you play good corners like Haden. I’ll learn from it .… I just threw it late and I can’t do that.”
Throw it away: This was an issue as a rookie and again last year. Griffin likes to keep plays alive, but when he does, it usually turns into a run. It’s great to use your legs, but the more these plays result in throws the better everyone will be -- and the safer it is for Griffin. The zone read was never the issue; Griffin’s scrambling and awkward slides are what must be fixed (not saying to run him a lot, but just pointing out that he must be smarter on the run). I like his desire, but he needs to channel it better.
On one bootleg to the right, Griffin took off and cut inside the linebacker and slid. Not bad. But the linebacker committed to him with Griffin five yards behind the line. Perhaps better: As the linebacker committed, it left Young more open. Dump to him and let him take whatever punishment comes. Griffin was not hit hard on this play, but it’s good to get in the mindset of letting those used to punishment get the work here.
On a third-and-17, Griffin extended the play to his right. Instead of keeping the play alive he started to slide to his right and took off, sliding after two yards. There was no chance of picking up a first down, so hang tight for a second then throw it away. Remove unnecessary risk.
Another time, Griffin took off to the left and thought a linebacker with tight end Jordan Reed was going out of bounds. Instead, the run ended with the linebacker hitting Griffin, who then was hit by two other defenders. Griffin is a tough kid; he’s also not the biggest kid.
“It’s something we need to talk about,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “When he gets out of the pocket he needs to protect himself. He has a habit in his career of being able to get himself out of predicaments with his speed and athleticism. But … he has to pick his shots and learn how to get down a little better.”