1. Before the season DeAngelo Hall stated the obvious: Robert Griffin III was the worst quarterback in the NFC East. At that point all you had to go off of was the promise of what Griffin could do, but not anything concrete. So, yeah, he was the worst. But there’s no way he’ll finish that way and, yeah, Eli Manning is better and is a big reason New York will remain relevant for the next five years. Manning is the only quarterback who rates above him now. Think of how good Philadelphia would be if it had Griffin. The speed they have at the skill positions with a quarterback of his caliber – one who doesn’t (usually) turn the ball over? Good lord would that be dangerous. Dallas would be a different team, too. In fact, in the NFC who would rate above Griffin? Not many. The thing is, Griffin is living up to the hype – in just his first seven games! How many athletes do that? Again, not many. Tiger Woods? LeBron James? Then the list starts tailing off. Even Osi Umenyiora said Griffin was the best quarterback they had faced this season. The other choices who would come close (based on who they’ve played): Tony Romo, Michael Vick and Cam Newton. Sorry, I wouldn’t want any of those three over Griffin right now or in the next few years. Griffin is one of the bigger impact players in the league right now. The Redskins’ offense didn’t really improve their talent that much, yet look at the increase in scoring. If the D had played better, Griffin would be mentioned in player of the year voting. Would he win? Tough one, but he’d be in the discussion. The Redskins’ offensive improvement is due to one guy and a staff that is using him creatively.
2. If not for the defensive mishap we’re talking about another unbelievable moment with this kid in the final minutes of a game. The play on fourth down; the scramble; the touchdown pass to Santana Moss. All of Griffin’s attributes it seemed were on display on that scoring drive. He was patient and kept his eyes downfield on the fourth and 10 pass to Logan Paulsen. Yeah, he also used his athleticism on that play by keeping the play alive when almost every other QB would have been sacked. He showed more of that athleticism on the 24-yard scramble on the next play. Memo to defenses: not a good idea to play man coverage vs. the Redskins in those spots if you want to corral Griffin. Notice how they played all zone on that last series? The way to slow him is by making him slowly drive against a cover-2 look. And that touch on the 30-yard TD pass just shows how much more he is than just a runner. Sort of a dagger to a D. It has to be very deflating to play against him because you can’t just say to sit back and let him throw the ball. He can do that rather well – and he’s still just learning. That’s what makes him so scary; he can do so much already as an unfinished product.
3. The line did a good job protecting Griffin. Of the three sacks, one came because tight end Niles Paul fell down trying to cut Jason Pierre-Paul (the second-year pro was Griffin’s target). Griffin had started right and was going to throw back left to Paul, but JPP got to him first. Another one came because on a zone read pass, the Giants weren’t fooled (it was a passing situation) and the in-route was not open. That enabled Osi Umenyiora to get inside Trent Williams for the sack. On the third sack, it really was a QB draw, but Justin Tuck powered through Tyler Polumbus and tackled Griffin for a loss.
4. But give Griffin credit on an earlier zone read that was taken away too. Actually on this one he could have attempted to hit Paul on a deep go. Instead, he hesitated, but kept his eyes downfield and hit Leonard Hankerson on a deep out. Typically when Griffin has looked off his primary guy he checks down, but not in this case.
5. Both Griffin and Logan Paulsen would only say it was a miscommunication on the interception. Griffin clearly thought Paulsen was going to continue on this route, but I’m not sold that Griffin should have thrown it regardless. Looked like a tough pass. On the next drive Griffin fumbled the ball. I wonder how many rookies would turn the ball over on consecutive possessions and then find a way to drive 77 yards in the final minutes to take a lead? That’s what Griffin did. Yes, he still has things to learn but how many times do you really say in a game that he made a rookie mistake?
This is a rookie talking? Doesn’t seem like it.
“I try to move on from those things,” Griffin said of the mistakes. “The interception was bad and the fumble, whenever you fumble the ball and it’s sitting in front of you and you can’t get to it, it kind of sucks. You move on from that because at the end of the day we made the play to put us ahead and we had a chance to win the game. You try not to weigh too heavily on those things that happened earlier in the game because you still had a chance to make it happen.”
7. Look at the group Griffin is leading to points: he has a rookie sixth-round pick at running back and a receiving corps missing its best player (and he did not have his best tight end for almost the entire game). Yet the Redskins averaged 7.0 yards per play against the defending Super Bowl champs. Just a quick thought and without much research, but I’m guessing not many quarterbacks are doing a better job of raising the play of those around them. Griffin will get a lot of guys paid in his career, and turn some assistants into head coaches.
8. In the second half Griffin took over despite the turnovers. He gained 127 combined yards rushing and passing in the first half. He attempted just eight passes and completed throws to only four targets. In the final two quarters he gained a combined 220 yards and finished the game having completed passes to eight players. There are typically a couple plays in a game where he misses someone, but when you keep hitting many different players it means teams must defend many different players.
9. Tough to describe that fourth down play. Except to say that he was flushed, ran left, started up, started back, stopped and threw to Paulsen. Amazing. Here’s what he said:
“They went to a soft defense and we had a good play call for that defense,” he said. “Everyone was extremely deep. I had no reads. I took off to the sideline trying to give guys a chance to get open and made Pierre-Paul miss and got it to Logan. It was a good job of everybody staying alive on the play and never giving up.”
10. It’s funny because Barry Cofield talked about after the game how confident he knows the Giants are late in games because of Eli Manning. Well, it’s taken less than half a season for the Redskins to feel the same. His late-game play has been fantastic in just about every game. They haven’t always won, but in each case Griffin has made plays. He did it against St. Louis and Cincinnati in losses. Did it against Tampa Bay and Minnesota in wins. Did it again vs. the Giants – and maybe if Santana Moss doesn’t fumble he does it twice in the final two minutes.