Insomnia has become an epidemic around the NFL.
Defensive coordinators leaguewide will be watching game film of Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III against New Orleans on Sunday. Even the ones who aren't playing the Redskins this season will sneak a peak. Why? Because Griffin is the future of football.
It's not easy finding quarterbacks with great speed, elusiveness, a strong arm and no fear. Michael Vick is an aging prototype. Cam Newton is one season ahead of Griffin. But even quarterbacks who are like statues in the backfield will start changing somewhat after Griffin turned New Orleans' linebackers into bystanders during the stunning 40-32 victory. The NFL always copies success.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan was smart not to reveal Griffin's true abilities during the preseason -- not that everyone didn't anticipate them. Still, one moment the Redskins were running the option and in the next series a pro set.
That scares defensive coordinators. They can't label Griffin. At least not yet.
But let's see Griffin do it again vs. St. Louis on Sunday, Cincinnati the following week and NFC East foes Dallas, Philadelphia and the New York Giants later in the season when there's more and more game film to study. Coaches live for late nights in the film room and afternoons when they can run that tape back and forth for players looking for tells that result in interceptions and blown-up option runs.
If Griffin still is successful once defenses truly know what to expect, then that's Pro Bowl stuff.
Offensive coordinator Kyle Shan?ahan also can rehabilitate his image after rough stints with Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman at the helm. The Redskins ran on 44 of 71 snaps against New Orleans. Considering 10 runs were by Griffin, that's almost a 50-50 balance between Griffin and his backfield.
Griffin only needed 26 passes to accumulate 320 yards, two touchdowns and a 139.9 rating that was the NFL's best Sunday. Conversely, Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw 52 passes. Vick tossed 56 for the Eagles. The Redskins limited Griffin's attempts, so that might keep St. Louis and other future opponents guessing a while longer.
The amazing part is Griffin can throw a deep ball even when he's flat-footed or leaning back, so the blitz is only partially successful. He beat the Saints several times with late throws. That especially torments defensive coordinators.
That fellow rookie Alfred Morris rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries and improved in the second half will frustrate opposing defenses further. Morris is the next Clinton Portis, a guy who bangs away for three quarters and pulls away in the fourth. That's so important in controlling a lead. Washington won that way behind John Riggins.
The Redskins didn't even need to get creative with their tight ends and looked deep at receiver after Pierre Garcon was injured early. They still have plenty left in the playbooks.
No wonder St. Louis' defensive coaches won't sleep much this week.