Robert Griffin III holds the ball too long. That’s the one big negative on Griffin’s game through one week of training camp. You have to give him credit for one thing: he’s not just looking to take off and run.
But there’s no doubt he’ll need to speed it up when the games begin. Yes, I got my stopwatch out again and there are times when he’s holding the ball for nearly 3.75 seconds before looking to run. That’s a long time in an NFL pocket.
At times he does not have the same sense of urgency on his drop-backs as the other quarterbacks. Because he’s off limits to us six days a week, we won’t have a chance to ask him about it again until Monday.
Is it a concern? Maybe not a big one … yet. Some aren’t sure if it ever will be.
“The first step is having a good feel for the timing of the routes and where to go with the ball against certain coverages,” quarterback Rex Grossman said. “His natural football instincts will take care of the things we’re seeing. That’s more important than getting the ball out of his hands quickly.
“Once the lights come on and he’s live, I think you’ll see him get rid of the ball and I’m sure sometimes you’ll see him not and get out of it and make a 40-yard run.”
Certainly there will be times when Griffin turns around to read the defense after a fake and quickly goes through his progression and then takes off. What we can’t see right now, or at least get the best feel, is for when he will take off. So sometimes Griffin will linger in the pocket in practice where in a game he might take off sooner. One of the biggest things he must do now is go through his progressions to learn the offense.
Occasionally they’ll abandon a play after four seconds when, in a game, Griffin might be able to keep it alive. He did keep one play alive for nearly 4.5 seconds when he slid left and got outside the pocket. (Sometimes the play is stopped because the defense would have drilled him).
“Sometimes he’s in Vick mode and they can’t tackle him because maybe he gets away from a guy,” Grossman said. “Some days the coaches say we want you to still go through your reads, don’t worry about getting sacked because we want you to have the rep.”
That’s happened a few times. In most cases, though, it’s a matter of releasing the ball sooner. He doesn’t force many throws, which helps avoid mistakes.
“It’s very competitive out there and we’re trying to put players in situations that are game-like situations,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “We’re playing it just like a game to try to put a guy like Robert in as many game-like situations as possible. If we do that we get him ready a little quicker.”
…Corner Kevin Barnes certainly taught him a lesson. Barnes fooled Griffin into thinking receiver Brandon Banks was open on a shallow route in the red zone. Barnes actually started on Terrence Austin (split left) but released him as he ran a fake out and up and jumped the route to Banks.
“I had underneath coverage but I didn’t want Robert to know because he’s a smart guy,” Barnes said. “The coverage is very aggressive and I slow played it and let the blitz get there and then he had to get the ball out of his hands.”
Barnes tried to make a similar play on a pass to Leonard Hankerson. Griffin actually threw too errant passes, but Hankerson was able to grab the one to him while Banks was too short to get the one to him. Barnes, though, said Griffin did not respond the way he anticipated the first time.
“But the second time I played a little deeper and shot my gun,” he said.
…Griffin did make two standout throws Thursday. On the first, he threw a terrific out route to Hankerson along the right side. Just an on-target bullet. A play (or two) later he threw to Pierre Garcon on an out route to the other side. The ball arrived as Garcon turned around. It was as in rhythm as any play I saw today. Otherwise, a typical up-and-down day for Griffin; off target on intermediate routes (one question of his game by some I talked to before the draft). I will say, even Grossman is excited about what this kid is capable of and the different things Griffin will be asked to do in games.
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