Redskins' RG3 excelling using play-action

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

But rookie QB must improve inside the pocket

ASHBURN -- The fakes fool the defense, buying time in the pocket for Robert Griffin III. And he makes them pay when that's the case.

Just look at the numbers he posted in St. Louis: Griffin completed eight of 10 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown when he used play-action. But when he didn't? Griffin completed 12 of 19 passes for 83 yards and an interception. He also was called for intentional grounding and sacked.

As Griffin's game matures, one of the areas that he'll want to keep improving is throwing from the pocket. It's not just on him, as the offensive line must keep the lanes unclogged. The Rams were able to pinch him on the edge and, at times, collapse the interior. That left him under duress. In those situations, he completed just two of seven throws.

"You never try to watch the rush," Griffin said. "It's something you've got to feel. ... We were able to move around and make off-schedule plays. You want to stay in that pocket more comfortably and throw the ball around, but we made it work."

There's no doubt teams will try to keep Griffin contained in the pocket. Not everyone will be successful -- the Saints weren't in the opener, for example. But Griffin feels if defensive linemen aren't free, he can make plays. He did run twice from the pocket for 15 yards, one of which also resulted in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

"One thing I tell offensive linemen as long as they stay on them, I can make them miss," Griffin said. "It's not being on your toes, but you have to be ready to throw at any time."

Or run. And that's the other part of the Griffin story. He's already carried the ball 20 times in two games, not to mention the hits he's taken after passing. Even taking the occasional shove to the head while on the ground, as St. Louis' Jo-Lunn Dunbar did. Griffin also got upset after one carry vs. the Rams when he yelled to the referee that a defender led with his helmet when trying to tackle him as he went out of bounds.

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said he has no number in mind when it comes to Griffin running the ball. And even though he's on pace to carry the ball 160 times -- 34 more than Cam Newton carried last year and more than Michael Vick ever had run in a season.

"It all depends on the game and what defenses are doing," Shanahan said. "We'll do what we think we need to win. Obviously we want to protect Robert as well."

Griffin said, "It'll die down over the course of the year. Sometimes I'll carry 10 times; sometimes I'll carry two times. It's a matter of how the defense will play. Coaches will get more creative with the game plans we have going in. We'll see what happens, but I don't expect to carry that many times. ... I try to stretch it out as much as I can to let guys get open. There are always ways to avoid hits, but some of the hits in this last game were unavoidable."

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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Author:

John Keim

Staff Reporter - Washington Redskins
The Washington Examiner