Wednesday, September 11, 2013
QB Watch: Redskins' Robert Griffin III
By John Keim
A weekly analysis of the Redskins’ quarterback play.
Rewind:Robert Griffin III looked like a guy playing his first game in eight months coming off surgery and without benefit of a preseason game. Griffin’s numbers were respectable: 30-of-49 for 329 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. But he’s not yet the same dynamic threat, and his mechanics (and decision-making, at times) looked rusty. He wasn’t always helped by his protection. Griffin did find a rhythm in the fourth quarter, hitting mostly short underneath throws. But he completed his day with a pretty 24-yard touchdown pass to receiver Leonard Hankerson that required rhythm and finesse.
Fast-forward: The Packers did a good job taking away San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick's legs. Then again, he didn’t need them, as the Packers struggled to stop the pass, partly because they changed up their coverage strategies. Until Griffin shows he can beat teams by running, my guess is they will do what they can to take away the pass with more man-press coverage.
Inside the numbers: Griffin’s numbers were built on the short pass Monday as he completed just 2 of 11 passes for 51 yards on throws that traveled 11 or more yards according to ESPN Stats & Information. A year ago he completed 59 percent of such throws (and was at 63.4 percent on throws between 11-20 yards). That rust stems from players being unable to work as much together as usual and from not getting into a rhythm during game action. Also, against a five-man rush or more Griffin was 9-for-20 for 78 yards and an interception. He faced those situations only 83 times last season and never threw a pick (compared to 10 touchdowns and a 67.5 completion percentage).
Prediction: Griffin will take another week or two to find his true rhythm, both as a passer and as a runner. Minus corner Casey Hayward, the Packers are more susceptible at corner. If the Redskins' offense really starts clicking, then Griffin won’t be in the 300-yard range, as the ground game will take a strong share of the focus. I’d expect a more balanced attack this week -- that is, if they don’t want to fall behind big again. Keep in mind that Kaepernick completed 9-of-11 play-action passes, averaging 13.8 yards per attempt, against the Packers according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Redskins excelled in play-action passes last season.