- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly analysis of the Redskins' quarterback play.
Rewind: I thought it would take Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III another week or two to gain his rhythm, and that has sort of happened. I also thought if the offense was really doing well then he would not be in the 300-yard range. He threw for 320, a byproduct of a lopsided score. Griffin had a terrific second half in terms of numbers (213 yards and three touchdowns) and he looked better than he did in the opener when a lot of his second-half yardage was built on underneath throws -- smart, but not exactly a great gauge of his progress. Sunday, he had to make tougher throws against the Packers' coverages and rush.
Fast-forward: Griffin will face a defense that is strong up front, especially inside. The Redskins interior linemen have struggled against such fronts when having to just protect in the pocket. Detroit's defense ranks 15th, but has not faced a balanced attack in the first two games. It’s hard to say the Redskins are one yet, either. But they have more potential to be than the Lions’ first two opponents, Minnesota or Arizona. The Lions are first in third-down defense while the Redskins are 31st offensively in this area. The Lions have some issues in the secondary at one corner position where rookie Darius Slay and veteran Rashean Mathis have split time. Nickelback Bill Bentley hasn’t stood out either.
Third-down passing: Griffin’s third-down numbers have been bad and it’s one reason the Redskins offense has started so slowly. Through two games, they’ve converted 1 of 9 third downs in the first half combined. Part of the problem is too many third-and-longs (all are third-and-4 or longer). This isn’t all about Griffin; in some cases the coverage has defeated them or a ball was dropped. But regardless, it’s a problem. This season, Griffin has completed 7 of 19 passes on third down and averaged 3.1 yards per attempt. On first and second down? He’s a combined 47-for-66 and averaging 8.8 yards per attempt.
Prediction: Griffin improved from the opener to last week. However, he needs to regain that dynamic element, and thus far that hasn’t happened -- will the Lions also blitz the middle and keep him contained? What provides hope for the offense is last week's run game, which was excellent in limited opportunities. Griffin and the offense will break out soon. Griffin will have a better first half this week and that will help the offense, finally, show some rhythm.