RG III report: Short routes can be big

August, 10, 2014
Aug 10
5:45
PM ET
RICHMOND, Va. -- The deep ball leads to flashy plays -- they hope -- but it’s the little ones that might make the Washington Redskins more dangerous. Or, rather, the short ones.

Considering the speed Washington has at receiver, the underneath routes can hurt defenses more consistently. It’s been evident this summer that the shallow crosses and clear-outs will be a big part of the Redskins' attack.

Griffin
“If you can dink and dunk, it opens everything over the top,” Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III said. “Some defenses will allow you to get the cheap yardage and move your way slowly downfield and see if you can score in the red zone. Some defenses get upset when you get cheap yardage.

“You’re trying to find ways to attack everything. It’s not always about going deep and throwing the home run ball. You have to get those small throw completions to move down the field.”

If teams blitz, those short throws could result in long runs, as we’ve seen in practice a couple times. It’s also true that some of those short throws can take some time.

For example, if the Redskins have a receiver from the left side run a shallow cross to the other side of the field, the wideout on that side must clear out his man. DeSean Jackson's presence can mean taking out the corner and the safety with, say, a deep post. But that also takes time to develop. So a key to some of these short passes will be Griffin having enough time to throw.

Griffin made some of those throws in the two-minute drill Sunday morning -- though the session could have gone better overall. It did start with a decisive throw on an out route to receiver Santana Moss. Griffin took a five-step drop, planted and threw, enabling Moss to get out of bounds to stop the clock. The next play, Griffin threw a quick out to receiver Andre Roberts on the right side, again leading him to the sidelines and out of bounds.

But Griffin wasn’t happy on the next play when he held the ball longer -- not sure why -- and coach Jay Gruden yelled out that he would have been sacked. So a pass Griffin felt he delivered before that would have been the case was nullified. For what it’s worth, I like that Gruden called for the sack; he needs to remind the young quarterback to be aware of the internal clock and to get rid of the ball quicker. Not blaming him, because I have no idea who was at fault on this one. But the quarterback is the one with the most control.

Griffin also dumped the ball off to running back Alfred Morris after a three-step drop. Griffin got it off on his third step.

But the pass Griffin had to wish he had back came on third-and-7 from the 37 with less than 40 seconds left and no timeouts. Roberts was running a shallow cross and pulling away from linebacker Keenan Robinson, but Griffin’s pass was behind Roberts and incomplete. Had Roberts caught the ball, he likely would have reached the 25-yard line. It’s tough for those to be missed even in practice; a good play was available.

Gruden said the Redskins will continue working on the two-minute drill every practice before the season opener. They just started running it a week ago. Gruden said there have been little breakdowns to hurt the offense here, from a good pass rush to protection to a poor route or a poor read by the quarterback.

“The tempo has been fine, the communication has been fine,” Gruden said, “but the execution hasn’t been that great.”

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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