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RG3 Report: Redskins 24, Bucs 22

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Redskins Confidential,Sports,John Keim

1. Robert Griffin III (26-35, 323 yards) has received credit for how smart he is, but maybe not enough. His brains and work ethic are his best attributes. OK, the physical side is important, but without the other two he’s JaMarcus Russell or Ryan Leaf. The last drive showed almost every aspect of his game. If Griffin didn’t know the offense so well, he wouldn’t have handled it so well when the headsets went out and he needed to call around half the plays. No panic. He just did his job. When you’re prepared and talented, you’re tough to beat. But he’s smart enough to know that he doesn’t have to get the yards by throwing the ball down the field. Rather, he picked it up by dumping the ball underneath.  I also liked his savvy on his 15-yard run, the last 10 of which came when he cut back to the middle of the field and reached the Bucs’ 26. Without that cut, the Redskins would have needed more work to get in position for a game-winning kick.

2. Griffin has killed it on his final drive each of the past three weeks. Sunday, he completed all four passes for 46 yards and ran once for 15 yards; against the Bengals Griffin completed three of four passes for 35 yards and ran twice for 31 and against the Rams he was four of five for 23 yards with an 11-yard scramble.

3. Add it up and Griffin has completed 11 of 13 passes for 104 yards and run four times for 57 yards in the final drive of the game. Pretty impressive. It’s an indication that he’s not forcing anything as most of the passes have come underneath the coverage, but with room to run. He only has one win to show for it, but the biggest thing he’s done is instill more confidence in him within the locker room. As if that’s possible. But when you see a guy produce in those times, it lets everyone know they’re never out of a game. By the way, Griffin’s passer rating is 103.2; and that stat doesn’t take into account the impact his legs have on the game. Imagine if it did.

4. It’s no wonder Griffin uses words like “fun” to describe these situations. When you have a guy like Griffin, regardless of the sport, you always feel like you have a chance. It’s rare to find guys like him, not just in football but any sport. It’s as if the game slows down for him in these moments. Opposing defenses will know, too, that the Redskins are never out of a game because of him. Rex Grossman understood before the game-winning drive what it would mean, which is why he told him he should root for the Bucs to make the field goal for a 22-21 lead. Drives like this elevate players – and Griffin has nearly come through in three straight games. Imagine the hype around him if he had.

5. The play-calling helped Griffin immensely as the Redskins reduced the need for him to run. But it also helped that they were moving the ball and didn’t need to use more of the option game. A week ago the Redskins used the zone read option game a lot more in the second half than in the first. When they needed to move the ball, they resorted to the zone read. But they didn’t struggle as much Sunday, even if there were a couple drives in which they failed to move the ball (only two three-and-outs all game). Griffin ran a season-low seven times for 43 yards, but he did get drilled a couple times. Some of those hits are the sort that can knock guys out for a while, like the one on the first touchdown in which he fumbled only to have Pierre Garcon recover in the end zone. Griffin’s touchdown was much easier as the middle linebacker was blocked and he all but scored untouched. But I wasn’t crazy about the first play from scrimmage in the second quarter, which came after he was leveled on the first QB draw. This time, he was nailed by safety Mark Barron (disagreed with the penalty) as he pitched the ball. So on consecutive plays (separated by a three-and-out), Griffin was pummeled. Fortunately those hits were few overall.

6. Griffin completed passes to nine different receivers and five of them averaged at least 15.5 yards per catch. He’s finding guys who are in position to do something after the catch.

7. One difference between Griffin and Josh Freeman was the former’s ability to adjust well in the pocket. Just one play to show that: the 25-yard pass to Fred Davis in the first quarter in which Griffin was about to be hit so he jumped up as he threw to his tight end. It was the difference between a potential sack and a big gain en route to a touchdown. Freeman tried a similar play, but he was leaning forward and his feet were out of whack when he went to jump and it led to an errant pass.

8. One of Griffin’s better throws came at the start of the fourth, the one in which Joshua Morgan caught a low bullet. If the ball is higher, I think the DB has a chance to make a play. Yes, Griffin has gotten away with a couple throws, but he’s only tossed one pick in 124 attempts for a reason: he usually does a good job keeping the ball away from the defender and giving only his receiver a chance. That’s not true every time, of course. He’s also helped by play-action throws and completing passes underneath. But the Redskins have a high-scoring offense with a QB who isn’t forcing throws.  Griffin also threw a laser to Morgan on a slant.

9. Hard counts are a way of life for any quarterback, so it’s not like this is the first time Griffin has used them I’m sure. But they worked to perfection. That’s good coaching, too, because the Bucs want to penetrate and have their line get upfield as fast as possible. He did that twice on the drive that ended in his QB draw for a touchdown, drawing two offsides penalties. He later got a third, though a Will Montgomery clip negated it.

10. Yes, Griffin did a better job of throwing his hands up in the air after completing the handoff. He even said after the game that one official reminded him to do it, to which Griffin said, “Yes, sir.”

11. The mistake portion of the RG3 Report. Griffin’s worst throw came in the fourth quarter on a third and 12 in which he looked left and threw back right, but never reset his feet. That’s OK as sometimes you can’t do that. But he also didn’t turn his shoulders and had no zip on the ball. He’s lucky it wasn’t picked. He also had one ball tipped in the red zone that was nearly intercepted. I still wonder how he’ll fare against some of the better defenses – if they can take away the run. That hasn’t happened yet. … Griffin also could have made a first down on his third and nine scramble just by reaching out with the ball.

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