1. The Redskins were wise to not put a lot of stress on Robert Griffin III’s knee by having him run a lot. He only carried on one designed run with another run coming out of the pocket. My thought was that if he’s on the field, play him as you normally would. But the Redskins clearly didn’t think his knee was ready for such work. Besides, they didn’t need him to play that way.
The Eagles could tell he wasn’t quite himself. He did not have the same explosiveness. It wasn’t always necessary.
“After we saw him the first drive, we said, ‘No, he’s not really trying to run today,’ “ Eagles end Brandon Graham said. “All we have to do is stop the run and get after him on the pass. It didn’t happen that way and he gashed us a lot, especially on the pass.”
Griffin was not the No. 2 pick in the draft because of his arm. Or because of his legs. It was for the whole package. If he were a quarterback who wanted to run if his first option were removed, then today could have been different. Griffin is not that quarterback. His legs will be needed in future games, but he showed he could win without them being a major weapon.
2. Mike Shanahan admitted they didn’t do everything they normally would with a healthy Griffin. They operated far less in the pistol in the first half than in other games this season. However, they used it more in the second half. It’s not as if they were explosive this way as the Redskins gained just 313 total yards – but still managed 27 points. However, Griffin still hurt Philadelphia with his arm. For those not paying attention to the other 13 games he started, Griffin proved a point: he’s about more than his legs. To focus on his legs is to miss the other parts of his game.
“That’s why they call me quarterback,” said Griffin, who completed 16 of 24 passes for 198 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. “It’s not abbreviated with a running quarterback before that or whatever else anyone wants to say. They call me quarterback because I lead the team. I’m supposed to go out there and throw the ball and hand the ball off to Alfred Morris and that’s what I was able to do.”
3. But those zone read fakes still worked on passes to Logan Paulsen and Chris Cooley for a combined 14 yards on consecutive plays in the fourth. Despite Griffin not being a big running threat, the Eagles still were frozen on these throws because of the fake. Paulsen and Cooley were open.
4. Griffin did give the Eagles a chance to get back in the game with a couple mistakes. He threw an interception when he drilled a pass to Joshua Morgan that bounced off his outstretched hands and to Colt Anderson’s. Morgan agreed Griffin was a bit overzealous with the throw.
“Just getting his feet back wet, setting his feet, little things that could be easily corrected,” Morgan said.
Here’s Griffin’s take: “At some point if I have to throw the ball that hard, I’ll go down to my check-down. I didn’t’ want to get him, as I said, annihilated across the middle. He had a corner on his back and as safety in front of him and I was trying to protect him with the pass that I threw to him and give him a chance to make a play. Tipped balls get picked and at the end of the day I have the ball in my hands so I’m responsible for it and I shouldn’t have thrown it.”
5. And here’s why Griffin is respected. Despite the knee, he stood strong in the pocket throughout the game. Contrast that with Nick Foles who seemed to panic at times if his first read wasn’t available. Anyway, Griffin’s prettiest throw was the 22-yard pass to Santana Moss. The Eagles rushed six on the play; the Redskins line picked it up and Griffin never seemed bothered by the rush. Instead, he stood strong and lofted a perfect pass in the left corner. Excellent anticipation and patience.
6. Another nice throw came off a zone read fake that, again, required patience – and trust in the protection. The Redskins ran a zone read fake, which often results in throws over the middle as the linebackers clear out. But, as they’ve done a couple times, they had Pierre Garcon run a post-corner for a 29-yard gain.
7. Griffin also threw a backwards pass that nearly resulted in disaster. On a second and 10 from the Redskins’ 20, the Eagles blitzed a corner on a bootleg pass and Griffin barely had time to react. The ball was ruled a fumble with Santana Moss recovering at the Redskins’ 3.
“They blitzed off the edge and usually when you have a blitz like that and a reverse play going back around, it holds them for a second,” Griffin said. “It didn’t hold them for a second and I was just trying to get the ball to [Moss] and I got hit and it went backwards. It was a smart play by Santana to jump on it even thought all of us in live action thought it was a forward pass. It wasn’t.”
8. In the end, Griffin wasn’t great. But he was efficient and he proved to others – clearly he already knew himself – that he can win a different way.
About his knee, Griffin said, “It feels good. Winning always cures ills, so it felt good during the game. It feels good now. It’s just good to be back out there with the guys.”
Yes, he wore a brace.
“It’s going to restrict your motion, so from that my mobility was down a little bit,” he said. “But at the same time I was able to do everything a quarterback is supposed to do. It didn’t slow me down and I was able to protect myself.”
9. How about this quote from Moss on Griffin: “Everybody gets in line behind him and said, ‘Take us to the promised land,’ ” Moss said of Griffin. “I know it sounds funny saying that but he shows what it takes every day to get to where he’s trying to get by how he prepares. It shows up on the field on Sundays. There’s no question you want that guy to be a captain.”