Wednesday, October 9, 2013
QB Watch: Redskins' Robert Griffin III
By John Keim
A weekly analysis of the Washington Redskins’ quarterback play.
Rewind: Robert Griffin III’s first four games were a steady progression of him returning to the player the Redskins need him to be -- the dynamic guy who starred in 2012 before his knee injury. The plan, as it turns out, was to ease Griffin back in with his legs after not playing in a preseason game (and only eight months removed from surgery). But the past two games Griffin has started to run a little more and showed more ability to escape before the bye against Oakland. When Griffin is more dynamic and able to extend plays, good things happen.
Fast-forward: Dallas has struggled against the pass, ranking 31st in the NFL. The Cowboys’ problems have stemmed mostly from an inability to cover backs or tight ends. That’s good news for Griffin and the Redskins, who like what they have in the receiving game at both positions. Dallas has allowed three passers to surpass 400 yards this season. The Cowboys also have given up back-to-back 100-yard games by tight ends.
Inside the numbers: Griffin has thrown more under duress as defenses continue to blitz him, forcing him to beat them with his arm because, at least in the first four games, they did not fear his arm. Only one quarterback, Baltimore’s Joe Flacco, has thrown more passes against a five-man rush or more than Griffin’s 75. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Griffin has been under duress on 42 dropbacks -- that’s eighth in the NFL. Only one other quarterback in the top 10 in this category has appeared in only four games, like Griffin. He’s completed 14 of 36 passes for 181 yards, one touchdown and one interception. His 53.1 passer rating ranks 15th, but that’s only one spot behind New Orleans’ Drew Brees and one ahead of Carolina’s Cam Newton. Also, last year Griffin ranked 16th in this category with a 53.0 passer rating. The big difference? He was under duress on only 66 passes and 89 dropbacks for the entire season.
Prediction: Griffin played one of his best games last season on Thanksgiving Day at Dallas, confusing the Cowboys with the zone-read option -- both running and throwing. He’s continuing to improve, but he's at his best when the run game is flourishing. The Redskins should threaten the Cowboys on the ground. Griffin will post solid numbers: 200-plus yards and two touchdowns.