RG III's game, not knee, remains the issue

November, 26, 2013
11/26/13
12:10
PM ET
If San Francisco linebacker Ahmad Brooks thinks Robert Griffin III shouldn’t be playing, that probably says more about the state of his game than his physical condition.

Griffin
Griffin is not limping through the locker room after games. He’s not limping on runs the way he did in the playoff loss in January to Seattle. When the entire pocket collapses, it’s tough for any quarterback to get out of the way. If you hold the ball a little longer or your receivers don’t win on routes, then it compounds the problem.

Griffin’s lack of development because of a missed offseason? That’s on the knee. And that aspect is affecting him now. I’m sure there has to be some soreness for Griffin; that’s true of every player. If it indeed is bothering him that much, then he hides it well. Heck, for weeks now his knee hasn’t really been discussed, aside from the lost offseason time.

That said, Griffin is not as explosive as a year ago, though he moves well enough to be a mobile quarterback. Maybe he never will be that guy again; I’m not smart enough to know. He’s still shown in other games the ability to extend plays. I do know that he has to learn to play a different way to have a long career, and that much remains a work in progress.

Rather, this is about where Griffin’s game is at: When there’s no threat of the play-action pass, Griffin doesn’t throw as well. The 49ers didn’t use many eight-man boxes and the run wasn’t working. Griffin did not look sharp in the pocket. It’s not a coincidence. He’s a developing passer, and in some games he looks bad. Like Monday night. He was far from alone in the horrid performance of Washington’s 27-6 defeat.

I also think Brooks underestimates how well he and the other 49ers linebackers played and the quick pressure they too often applied and the impact it had on Griffin.

Perhaps Brooks was anticipating a different player than the one he saw. Griffin can help himself by developing as a passer, lessening the need for his legs to be an issue. He’s not at that point yet, and therefore teams are forcing him to win with his arm. Still, I’d be curious to hear more of what Brooks said to understand why he did say it. An opposing player’s perspective is always a good one.

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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