- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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Former NFL safety Louis Riddick spent seven years in the Redskins’ organization, first as a scout and then as director of pro personnel. Then, from 2008-2013, he worked as a scout and eventually served as director of pro personnel for Philadelphia. So he knows the game from two perspectives: player and front office man. Here's what he had to say about Robert Griffin III's performance thus far. He was good, so I'm not wasting time using any of my thoughts.
Here you go:
On Griffin’s progress: “I know everybody says 'well he’s not the same when the threat of running is not there,' when people don’t think he’s a threat on the perimeter on the zone-read to pull the ball and run. If he has to have that in order to be effective … there’s more to play-action than just the threat of the zone-read itself. When Kirk Cousins is playing they still benefit from play-action because of Alfred Morris, because he can run the outside zone stretch. They still have the threat of the play-action pass game even though Kirk is not a runner. Denver did it for years. I played against it. When I was with the Rams and they had Elway and Terrell Davis, I got beat on a play like that where Elway ran an outside zone and I thought he was handing to Davis, and I come flying up from safety and he pulls up and Rod Smith is screaming across the field on a deep post. … What Robert has to demonstrate is that he can still be effective throwing the ball from the pocket going through reads and delivering the ball to Santana Moss and Josh Morgan and Pierre [Garcon]. He has to demonstrate that, or they have to throw caution to the wind and say if Robert is not operating the pistol and run[ning] the zone-read he’s just another average quarterback. I wouldn’t want to be them and saying that’s the case given what they gave up to get him. If that’s the case, then oh boy. Colin Kaepernick had moments where he’s shown he can operate a more conventional shotgun or under center throwing the ball down the field. Maybe Robert needs to take off one time and put fear back into defenses … But you have to give him time. You just do. He’s a one-year player. The expectations for him are ridiculous."
On what the extra pressure defenses are sending at Griffin tells him: “A couple things. It tells me that until proven otherwise they don’t believe Robert has the ability -- that he can identify different rush schemes knowing where he needs to go with the ball quickly and delivering it accurately -- at this point. Yet. They’re also seeing issues with their pass protection. There’s a lot of components that go into a quarterback’s success. It isn’t just all on Robert. Alfred Morris needs to play better; the receivers need to get open more; the line needs to block better. But what they’re saying is, ‘Robert, we don’t think you can beat us just running Mike’s old Denver offense. Show us you can. Show us you can play like Elway or Jay Cutler when the threat of the zone-read isn’t there. We think you need to do that. Until you do, here we come.’"
More on the pressure: “He has expressed in the past that he wants to be known as a well-rounded quarterback, as he should want to be. Teams are saying, ‘Right now we’re not expecting you to take off, so beat us with your arm.’ That’s just smart football. And people are taking advantage of the fact that he hasn’t practiced [much]. All that stuff works against him. In his defense, you can’t be out there just dicing people up like Aaron Rodgers right now. It’s a perfect storm working against him, and he has to dig his way out of it. People have to be patient and adjust their expectations. Unless they just say 'the hell with it, we’re back to 2012 and we’re doing it.'”
On the criticism: “It has to be tough on him. He’s known nothing but success, this has to be killing him. People are saying put Kirk Cousins in. I guarantee if you ask people there and you’re asked what bothers me more than anything is when people start suggesting that maybe Kirk should play. That has to kill him and burn him up. It’s tough. I wish him the best. It’s tough watching a young player go through that. But from an opponent’s standpoint, they’ll be coming like a pack of wolves after him until he shows he can fend them off again.”
3hField Yates and Rich Cimini