RG3 seeing fewer single-safety defenses

October, 5, 2012
10/05/12
10:36
AM ET

Paul Frederiksen/US PresswireRobert Griffin III has been taking advantage of defenses that play a single-high safety.
The Washington Redskins Robert Griffin III has played like anything but a rookie during the first month of the season, throwing only one interception. By comparison, the rest of the rookie class (Brandon Weeden, Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, Russell Wilson) combined to throw 21 interceptions.

Griffin has done most of his damage when defenses play a single-high safety after the snap. Single-high safety defense is defined as one safety deep in pass coverage after the snap. Griffin has thrown all four of his touchdowns against such coverage, averaging 11.7 yards per attempt.

Not surprisingly, Griffin has been airing it out more with one safety deep in coverage. His average pass is traveling twice as far against single-safety coverage compared with split-safety defense. (Split-safety defense is defined as two safeties deep in coverage after the snap.)

Of Griffin’s 31 pass attempts traveling more than 10 yards down field, more than 70 percent have been thrown against a single-high safety. Griffin has completed 14-22 attempts (63.6 percent) for 411 yards and two touchdowns in such situations.

He’s also seen fewer single-high safety looks since he torched the Saints in Week 1.

Griffin faces a new challenge this week against the Atlanta Falcons, who used a single-high safety on 17 of Cam Newton’s 24 attempts (70.8 percent) last week. Newton responded by averaging 10.6 yards per attempt against such coverage, compared with five yards per attempt against a split-safety defense.

While Griffin has been excellent against single-safety defense, he has also picked opponents apart on short passes against the split-safety look. He has completed nearly 72 percent of his throws when facing a split-safety defense (defined as two safeties deep in pass coverage). His average pass travels less than five yards downfield.

Because Griffin has exceled against both safety defenses, opponents are sending less pressure and sitting back in more two-deep safety coverages to limit his downfield passing.

Griffin has faced four or fewer rushers on more than 80 percent of his dropbacks. That’s the second-highest in the NFL this season, and highest among the rookie quarterbacks. The other four rookies have faced such pressure on a combined 64.5 percent of their dropbacks.

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