1. Robert Griffin III (four for six, 70 yards, one touchdown, 145.8 passer rating) did a good job of getting the ball out on time. It helped that the Redskins opted for more quick throws – it was evident in practice the other day that this was the plan. And that the protection was solid. The good part for Griffin is that he executed the passing game well. On the one time where there was a little pressure, he was able to show his athleticism, stopping his rollout and adjusting his arm slot to whip a pass to tight end Niles Paul (that was jarred loose for an incompletion).
2. Heck, Griffin could have finished 6-for-6. Paul had the one knocked free and it was debatable whether or not Pierre Garcon got his foot down on the other misfire. Guess the good part in this is that even on his misses Griffin was on target.
3. Griffin did not look like a rookie in his first game. He played with more poise than that. It’s common for a young player to show some sort of jitters with his throws, a high pass here or there. But Griffin did not show any of that; rather, his feet were calm and poised. And on the 18-yard completion to Garcon, Griffin went through his progressions quickly but calmly and delivered the ball to what turned out to be his fourth option.
4. Even when pointing out how long he holds the ball in practice, what we didn’t know is how that would translate to games. Yes, there are times the coaches wanted him to go through his progressions to get used to doing that (he did not do it in Baylor). But trust me on this: some teammates wondered if he’d get rid of the ball faster in games. Nobody considered it a big issue, nor were they criticizing him for it, but just one that they wanted to see how it would turn out. For his first quarter it turned out fine. Certainly the bigger tests await in the season when defenses become more exotic, but the Redskins offensive game plan will change too. Also, Griffin’s penchant for holding the ball was never really about his ability to read a defense, unlike some other rookie quarterbacks here in the past. But it was a lot about having to learn how to drop back and go through his progressions. I don’t think Baylor used this route tree, either. Lots of adjustments going on here, which will continue way beyond this game.
5. And Griffin even said earlier in the week that he thought he’d make quicker reads in games. It’s tough facing a defense in practice that knows what plays are being run.
“Practice is a lot harder than the games,” Griffin told reporters afterward. “Our defense was definitely on top of a lot of stuff we were doing in practice. You can see the reads a lot clearer because you’re not going against that defense every day. The holes were a lot bigger. I was able to read things a lot quicker.”
6. Griffin started after a Buffalo player following a fumbled exchange with Evan Royster. Coach Mike Shanahan was asked after the game if he liked this and he delivered the only answer that’s allowable: Yes, he did. If Griffin did not try to tackle the guy then what sort of teammate would he be? Forget the worry about endorsements, etc.; if you don’t play to win – and you shy away from making a play like that in a game – then teammates won’t like it. Period. Of course, in a preseason game …
7. It’s one quarter of one preseason game. Still a long way to go. But for a first effort, Griffin and the Redskins should feel good. I also liked that Griffin said he and Garcon spent at least part of their time on the bench (over the final three quarters) going over their plays together, just to make sure they’re “on the same page.” Can’t imagine they did this the whole time, but it does show how much he’s trying to learn – and how much others are helping him do so (like Garcon).
8. There will be difficult games and moments ahead, no doubt. Need to see how he handles himself under duress; need to see what happens in a game where he gets hit a lot. All of that will occur at some point. But the funny thing is after watching the quarterbacks last summer, if they got through a quarter like this you kind of felt, ‘Well, in a game what would they have done wrong over the next three quarters?’ After Griffin’s quarter tonight I wondered, ‘Well, what more could he have done over the next three quarters?’
9. Here’s what Bills defensive end Mario Williams told reporters about Griffin afterward:
“We definitely tried to keep things generic as far as base fronts. I expected a little more, but after I thought about it it’s great for him to not run as much because that’s the one thing we were looking for was for him to showcase his running ability along with his arm and stuff like that. We kept it basic too.”
“He handed the ball off pretty much most of the time. Yeah he did have a couple of play action throws. He’s obviously a heck of a quarterback and he has a bright future. He was drafted for a reason and he’s definitely capable of meeting those expectations.”
“We were expecting some boot, read option but they kept it pretty simple. I definitely expected way more boots and some read option to get him moving around.”
To subscribe to my free weekly email report, click here. This week: talked to linebacker Ryan Kerrigan about using his hands better; why tight end Niles Paul’s size in run blocking is offset by his quickness; and Kedric Golston defensive line play.