On a bootleg to the left side, Robert Griffin III tucked the ball and started running. He dashed out of bounds before linebacker Lorenzo Alexander would have hit him (had it been a real game). Alexander’s pursuit on the play was solid: he took the proper angle, leaving Griffin no place to go but out of bounds.
Alexander isn’t confident that other teams will handle it the same way.
“I’ve been out there against Michael Vick at 270 pounds,” said Alexander, now 245 pounds. “So after seeing someone like Vick who I think is more shiftier I’m not as nervous. I’m used to it. I’ve seen it so I understand how to pursue and come up on a guy who can run like him and take good angles and use the other guys around you because he can embarrass you.
“You’ve gotta be on your ps and qs with taking good angles. It’s the same with Vick. You see it and talk about it but until you run with it and see what he’s able to do you don’t have a clue.”
But sometimes even when you think you’ve slowed him, he’s still gained a number of yards. That happened on Griffin’s bootleg run in which he still gained around 10 yards just because of his speed. But Alexander was right: had the angles not been taken away inside, he could have cut back and gained a lot more. It’ll be interesting to see how other teams play him.
However, as Alexander said Griffin is a different sort of runner than Vick. He’s not as explosive (no one is), but if it becomes a footrace Griffin will win often. And it doesn’t need to be for 30 yards; sometimes it’s a nine-yard gain on a first down bootleg. Those plays add up.
Another play that will cause defenses headaches is the pistol formation, with Griffin reading the defensive end and deciding whether to hand off or keep the ball himself.
“Things happen slower and you have to be a lot more disciplined,” Alexander said. “You can’t be quick to pursue. You take one step the wrong way and he’s on the edge on you or you’ve got a guy who’s athletic like Trent [Williams] who can get up on you. That will help us when we see a guy like Cam.
“[Defenses] will definitely have a harder time if they don’t see it all the time. You can’t see where he has the ball. … Eventually [the offense’s] timing will get a lot better and Robert locating that end and whether to pull or keep he’ll get more deceptive like that and make more plays.”
1. Now, onto Griffin’s day. It was much, much better than his first training camp practice. That’s not surprising given the rust that most players would have after being off for a month or so. But Griffin’s passes were more accurate; didn’t see many hit the ground as they did the previous day.
2. The first time he rolled to his right Friday, Griffin threw a rocket to Leonard Hankerson on the sidelines; good catch and a good throw. But a few plays later he would have been sacked by Stephen Bowen. And one play after that he faked a handoff to Evan Royster out of the pistol and then dropped the ball.
3. There were a couple times Griffin would have been sacked today, including once when he held the ball a little too long. Actually, there were a couple times where he failed to unload the ball. It’s tough to always tell if it was on his indecisiveness or if his reads weren’t open. But it bears watching. He does best when he’s on the run right now… And in some cases he’s dropping back, executing a play fake and ducking down. By the time he turns to throw there’s pressure.
4. Pierre Garcon helped Griffin out with a leaping one-handed grab across the middle, tucking the ball into his body with his other arm. Perhaps one of Griffin’s best throws came on an out pattern to Hankerson (who dropped an earlier throw). With DeAngelo Hall all over Hankerson, Griffin put the ball where only his receiver had a shot. It was not a throw many quarterbacks would be willing to make because he was covered. But he showed trust in his arm and in Hankerson’s ability to keep Hall away from the ball. It worked.
5. On another bootleg to the left, Griffin looked for a second like he might run, drawing more defenders up. Then he rifled a pass to Aldrick Robinson… who had the ball skid through his hands.
6. Griffin really didn’t have any passes that were close to being intercepted either.
7. The verdict: A good day. Griffin struggled Thursday, but clearly recovered. It’s not surprising. Some of the stuff he had problems with Thursday — like rolling out and throwing on the run to his left — were things he had done well in college. He threw it well today.