1. It’s fun to watch this offense with Robert Griffin III (221 yards passing, 85 rushing) in control. It really is. But the thing that concerns me is that they have trouble when trying to simply drop back and throw. They moved the ball well in the second half when using Brandon Banks in the backfield and when the Bengals went up 14 and allowed passes underneath. But as the Redskins keep playing this season, will it be tough to sustain drives with such an approach? Thing is, Griffin is a special talent and a playmaker. If they’re not putting him in position as a threat with both his arm and his legs, then they’re not using their full arsenal. Teams aren’t afraid of him simply as a passer, but they’re scared to death when they’re not sure what he’s going to do. Hence the dilemma. But it’s leading to lots and lots of hits. Griffin has a great attitude and is tough, but how much can he take?
“They were trying to run at me, get quarterback hits on me,” Griffin said. “A lot of teams think if you hit the quarterback enough eventually he’ll stop coming after you. I just want to let everyone know that’s never going to happen.”
2. When the Redskins took over at their own 2-yard line, I nearly tweeted about how Mike Shanahan had watched another QB of his take a team 98 yards and become a legend once upon a time. (I was at that John Elway Drive game in Cleveland by the way; Shanahan was the offensive coordinator). But then I thought: nah; there’s 1:47 left and no time outs. Not happening. And then it nearly did. Griffin has come close to two building-the-legend drives in two weeks. It’s clear that he enjoys those moments and he’s comfortable in them. He didn’t force anything, took what the defense gave him and moved the ball quickly down the field. Griffin completed 11 of 13 passes on the final two drives combined. It’s not as if every throw was difficult; in fact, most weren’t. But he handled the spot like a veteran and that bodes well.
3. Having said all that, he can’t take a sack on that first down with 19 seconds left and no time outs. (Speaking of which, no time outs left in the fourth quarter? They used two time outs on consecutive plays early in the third. One reason: the play didn’t come in until 10 seconds were left on the clock and they needed more time to run the play. “Bad clock management by us,” Griffin said). Anyway, there are times in the pocket when he looks like a rookie in terms of anticipating or feeling the rush especially when dropping straight back. That’s where the growing pains are evident (maybe a rollout would have been better, so he’s outside the pocket if he has to throw it away; problem is, you cut down half the field). He was sacked earlier in the game because he held the ball a while (which is what we saw in training camp) as well.
4. But the thing that was always obvious is that Griffin would make plays while learning other parts of the game simply because of his legs. They get him out of trouble and they get him positive yards. They’re a threat to the D so they must honor certain fakes that buy time. It’s a luxury for Griffin to be able to make big plays yet still have much room for improvement.
5. Griffin connected more with Fred Davis Sunday and only nine of his completions went to receivers, with three of those being a screen of some sort. One of Griffin’s best passes came on the first series of the third quarter when he found Davis, delivering the ball just as he turned. A nice throw for 14 yards. But there was little downfield for him, especially in the middle – an area where the Bengals had struggled. It’s sometimes tough to know whether or not he missed throws down there, or wasn’t going to force anything or if he Bengals just took it away completely. There are times when guys seemed open, but then you must know the read on those particular plays (and every single QB will miss guys being open in every game; I couldn’t believe the Bengals didn’t target A.J. Green when Richard Crawford was on him).
6. If I’m the Redskins I feel bad about this loss, but I feel good about the quarterback and where he can take the offense (especially when Pierre Garcon returns). That is, if Griffin can withstand the hits.