- You want the rookie learning curve for Robert Griffin III? It’s not about his throwing as much as it is about his decision when he runs the ball. It wasn’t surprising that he got knocked from the game. This was inevitable and it has nothing to do with anything the coaches called. It has everything to do with a guy who has long been used to making certain plays with his legs still learning when he can or can’t do it in the NFL. I don’t blame him for this and it’s clear that Griffin is a good learner. We’ve seen it in other situations when a mistake one week is corrected the next. But this is probably the toughest one of all. Griffin is a tough, determined kid and now he’s being asked to give up in certain situations. It goes against his mentality. Of course, if he wants to last in the NFL …
- Perhaps he needed to have a hit like this to remind him what to do next time. And the next time what he should do is throw the ball away or run out of bounds. As he takes off to his right, around the defensive end, Griffin looks inside and sees linebacker Sean Weatherspoon coming at him. That’s why he ultimately slid. But nobody would have called him anything other than smart had he just run out of bounds or thrown the ball away. Griffin has a playmaker’s mentality, but the funny thing is he’s more cautious (or smarter perhaps) when he throws the ball than when he runs. He rarely forces passes and will take the safe throw to move the chains.
- Griffin is proud of how he plays and he should be. Teammates respect him for a reason, not just because he’s talented and works hard but because he’s tough. But they need to tell him that he doesn’t need to gain every yard possible. The fear with a guy like Griffin isn’t that he’ll take 15-20 hits in a game, as he already has this season. It’s that he always puts himself in position for that one big blast. It came Sunday. Heck, he was hit far less in this game than the Bengals game and even than last week vs. Tampa. Yet, one big hit. The good news for Griffin and the Redskins is that it was only termed a mild concussion and he tweeted that he anticipates passing the tests and playing Sunday. It’s good that he feels this way but we still won’t know until he actually passes the test.
- This is his second concussion in less than a year. Griffin suffered a concussion last November while at Baylor trying to get away from a pass rush. He went to slide, took a forearm to the head and his head bounced on the turf. It goes without saying that he’s a wonderful talent, but he does a lot more good on the field than on the sidelines. The hard part is that you don’t want to change his mindset and have it impact who he is as a player. He needs to find a way to be fearless but smart – as he already is as a passer. Griffin needs to know that he can extend plays, yet still get rid of the ball before anything bad happens. He doesn’t want to let teammates down by not gaining every inch, but without him they’re just not as good.
- By the way, here’s the quick injury update on Griffin.
- I’ll talk more about Kirk Cousins in my Ten Observations, but the first thing I thought of when he threw his second interception: Griffin would not have made that pass. There are many reasons for that, but the reason Griffin has excelled in late-game situations is because he doesn’t try to get everything back in one or two plays. On the play in which Cousins was intercepted for the second time, a tough throw, receiver Joshua Morgan was open underneath. It would have given the Redskins probably 10 yards or more.
- The Falcons used defensive end Kroy Biermann to spy on Griffin on at least one occasion. He did the same to Cam Newton last week. The one time I remember seeing it, it had an impact. It enabled the end to rush upfield, trying to get around tackle Tyler Polumbus and knowing that Biermann would be in the gap. Sure enough, the end rushed hard upfield, Griffin tried to step up and slide to the right, but Biermann was there and prevented him from running. Griffin had to settle for a five-yard dump-off to Fred Davis on a third and eight.
- After 33 combined runs in the first three games, Griffin has only run nine times in the past two – and only once vs. the Falcons. Clearly the coaches are trying to be smarter. It’s like they had a new toy and got a bit overexcited about what it could do.
- Griffin’s third down passing needs to improve, but that’s been obvious all season. I wouldn’t look at it as an issue as much as it’s one area where he’s still learning. Griffin completed one of three passes on third down for five yards. He dropped back one other time (the play in which he was hurt). Of those three third down passes, all came when they needed at least seven yards. I can’t imagine many rookies putting up good numbers in third and long.
To sign up for my free weekly email report, click here.