He didn’t win the game, but Robert Griffin III also didn’t shrink from the moment. Actually, he looked rather calm and that’s always a good sign in a rookie QB. He definitely had his moments when he looked like a rookie, but not in the fourth quarter. Griffin didn’t force the issue on the next-to-last drive when the Redskins had a third and long. Instead he dumped it off, got some positive yards and got off the field. No forcing the ball. But on the final drive his worst play was throwing low and behind Fred Davis. That wasn’t about anything other than accuracy, an issue that dates to training camp. He’s inconsistent in this area. But Griffin gave Joshua Morgan a good ball and led him into a first down – if only Morgan had turned inside instead of outside. It should have been a first down inside the 30, instead thanks to The Penalty, it turned into a 62-yard missed field goal.
The interception. Yes, that one. There’s really no stating anything that isn’t obvious here. Griffin said he was close to getting sacked. That’s sort of true, but it wasn’t as much as he thought. Griffin had room to slide to his left had he wanted. But he also needs to be aware of Cortland Finnegan. On the play Finnegan dropped into zone coverage on the left, inside the numbers, reading Griffin the entire way. He knew Griffin was not going to look to his right on the play because he didn’t have time to make that throw so Finnegan broke to the middle. Griffin didn’t stare down Fred Davis, but with the pocket collapsing, the minute he turned back his way there was no doubt where he was throwing. And he threw it blindly. Again: You have to know that Finnegan is an aggressive player and that on his side and he constantly jumps routes. A tough mistake, but one Griffin no doubt will learn from. There were a couple times in which Griffin tried to throw from an awkward position under duress. Rex Grossman said this summer he was impressed how Griffin could flick the ball in those situations, a la Michael Vick. But it did lead to one big mistake Sunday.
It’s funny because early in the game Griffin yapped it up a little bit with the officials and the Rams. I thought: Keep it quiet, kid; don’t want to lose your poise. But Griffin clearly did not and now having a minute to think about it, I think he was able to show he’s not going to back down without crossing that line. The one that Morgan crossed. The one that others such as DeAngelo Hall and Trent Williams have crossed in the past. A quarterback shouldn’t get pulled into that sort of nonsense anyway. But when you’re a running QB it’s going to happen because of the extra hits you receive. But as the game got out of control in terms of the chippiness, Griffin remained above the fray and kept his cool. Griffin understands the moment. Others can learn from a kid playing his second NFL game.
It’s tough to say that the Rams’ linebackers struggled to defend Griffin’s play fakes as much as the Saints’ linebackers did. Need to re-watch the game again to see that, but I saw times when they weren’t and times when they were. But Griffin forces them to be disciplined all game or he’ll make them pay. Like in the second half on a second and 1 in which end Chris Long drilled running back Alfred Morris. That was fine. But middle linebacker James Laurinaitis had to delay his pursuit and that’s all Griffin needed to get outside for six yards. Saw the fakes work on some play-action passes too. It’s not just the zone read fakes, it’s the simple play-action ones that work as well because Griffin sells it so well.
OK, fourth and 16 with Griffin or a 62-yard field goal attempt by a guy who is 5 for 19 in his career beyond 50 yards? By the way, three of those makes occurred in 2003; since then he’s 2 for 13 from beyond that distance. I know it’s a dome and the conditions are perfect. But I’m going with the kid on this one. You have someone who can extend a play and also make plays with his arm and his legs. Billy Cundiff has done an excellent job since joining the Redskins, but he had no chance on that kick. Griffin had received a little too much pressure, but I’d like to have seen what he would have done. Guys like Griffin tend to make big plays in big moments. It was a longshot either way and the game was not lost on this decision by any means. But here’s the thing: If Griffin had been given another opportunity and failed would anyone would have said they should have attempted a 62-yard field goal? With a kicker who struggles on long kicks? The Redskins trotted out a singles hitter and asked him to hit a homer. In the end maybe it didn’t matter because the odds are bad for both, but …
This season isn’t just about Griffin, especially after the win last week which left Redskins fans giddy about the possibilities this season. A win Sunday would have stamped them as a team that maybe could do something. A loss just means they remain an inconsistent and flawed team, still. These first two games are probably good indicators for where they’re at. But Griffin again showed plenty of reasons why things could be different sooner than anticipated. And he showed it in all areas again. He ran for two touchdowns and threw for a third. On the first touchdown run it was blocked fine, but not perfect and he juked inside Janoris Jenkins. On the second touchdown the Rams for some reason lined up wide and left the middle open as the Redskins used four receivers. An easy QB draw. Then there was the run in which Finnegan bore down on him after a fake. Griffin should have been drilled. But he caught Griffin out of the corner of his eye, spun away from him and ran for eight yards. And I’m just now mentioning the deep ball to Leonard Hankerson, a perfect pass. Griffin’s fakes held the rush and bought himself time. He should have had another one to Aldrick Robinson, but it was dropped. Griffin is a playmaker and he turns others into playmakers as well.