In a preseason game against the Detroit Lions, quarterback Robert Griffin III was pummeled by a defensive line that no longer features Ndamukong Suh. He was swamped in the pocket, with nowhere to turn, and essentially set up for the failure that the front office seems to have deemed him.
Take a look at this montage of RG3 getting hit in a preseason game. In that first sack, there may be two seconds (if that) before everything collapses around him. That player that gets beat? Brandon Scherff, the FIFTH overall pick in this year’s draft. The kind of pick that was chosen precisely so that these kinds of sacks don’t happen.
Take a look at the second hit. He takes it and completes a short gain. Third hit? Reads the offense, steps into it and makes a catchable pass before being flattened by a member of the Lions’ defense. Fourth hit? Held it a little long, but why was he hit so quickly? Any quarterback hit that hard and that OFTEN would be off their game, too.
I understand where Gruden and other members of the staff are coming from when they say (or don’t say) that Griffin isn’t the right fit for the offense. He’s a one-read kind of guy and an instinctive runner. That’s who he is, which makes you wonder why they hired a coach like Gruden. My own issues with Griffin have come with his own impatience. Yes, the offensive line has been crap for the last… well, ever… and yes I understand that means you have to make quick decisions. But in the moments in which there was ample time, Griffin hasn’t read all of his options. He reads the first one and then jumps ship. In the past, this was fine because he had the mobility to move the chains, but a second torn ACL, a couple of concussions, and a dislocated ankle later, that mobility isn’t what it once was. Despite whether or not he’s 100% healthy, there’s a psychology that comes with that kind of recovery. Once you realize you’re vulnerable, you become guarded, more conservative. You let off the pedal.
But watch this clip of Kirk Cousins’ touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder.
Doesn’t that look strikingly similar to RG3’s pass that was dropped above? Except with maybe a little more luck?
We talk about RG3’s inability to make quick decisions, but watch this clip from the same game as above.
The first pass highlighted from Kirk Cousins is a quick decision… into the hands of an opposing player.
Robert Griffin III isn’t blameless in all of this and Kirk Cousins actually finishes with a decent game (20/27 and 190 yards) in limited time on the field. When we talk about the context of the situation (ignoring the media frenzy and Kardashian comparisons), it makes sense that Cousins would be named the starter. Griffin’s clearance was reversed for whatever reason and Cousins performed well, but don’t expect me to buy into Cousins just yet. He’s a turnover machine without the elusiveness of Griffin.
I’m not upset with the decision. I’m upset with the perspective and lens with which people are choosing to view this situation. I’m upset with the coaching staff and how they are choosing to run the offense. RG3 and Cousins were drafted the same year for a reason. Cousins, though not the wheelhouse Griffin was, can book it when he needs to. He was drafted to work in tandem with Griffin, not as opposition. These are read-option quarterbacks, not classic pocket passers, and they aren’t the only two to thrive in that system. Running the read-option is part of what led Alfred Morris to breaking the franchise record for rushing yards in a season, as a ROOKIE.
From the “best quarterback” comments to the issues with the Redskins name to the possibility that Gruden set up RG3 to get hurt (despite the fact that Cousins has faced just as much pressure), it’s all a little more ridiculous than it needs to be. What it boils down to is success on the field. If the Redskins had hired a different coach, one more willing to run a college-style, read-option offense, would any of this (besides the issue of the Redskin moniker) be up for debate? Maybe not. There’s no way to know for sure, but it warrants some consideration. I’m not trying to shift the blame to Gruden’s coaching style, either, I’m just trying to reiterate that not all matches are made in heaven, and when it comes to this quarterback situation in Washington, it’s just an issue of two pieces of two different puzzles trying to fit together. Both pieces are stubborn and won’t admit maybe there needs to be some adaptation before than can be success. Don’t be surprised if Robert Griffin makes a comeback sooner than later, and don’t be surprised if that comeback is with the Washington Redskins…. as impossible as it seems.