ASHBURN, Va. -- The focus was on leadership. And running with the ball. And dealing with criticism. All the topics are legitimate.
Meanwhile, this one is too: Robert Griffin III improved from the first game to the second -- even if his numbers were built in a blowout. The Washington Redskins saw progress; the throws he made were tougher than what he faced against the Philadelphia Eagles, when all but two of his completions traveled 10 yards or less.
Yes, his legs need to be incorporated more, but it was progress.
“You could see his footwork, just his base and stepping up into the throws, he felt a lot more comfortable,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “This is a long process. It’s not going to happen overnight. We’ve talked about it before. This is something that he’s going to get better at and better at as time goes on.”
That’s what the Redskins need if they’re going to emerge from the rubble of an 0-2 start. It was hard to know how Griffin would fare once the season began because of his inability to practice during the spring or play in the preseason. Turns out the impact is great, even for a player such as Griffin.
He’s only run the ball nine times, and none off a designed play or zone-read option.
“This is like his second preseason game,” Redskins receiver Santana Moss said. “You’re not going to make him do a bunch of stuff we’re not sure of. Once he gets his feeling back and the coach is confident with him doing all that stuff, I’m sure they’ll let him do more. Right now I don’t think that’s what we need to do to win games … We have [the zone-read option] called, but if they’re keying on him then he’s not going to run the ball, and that’s what teams are doing. You’ll see him hand the ball off. I’m glad he’s doing that because we don’t need that right now.”
Griffin said Wednesday that he knows his legs provide a spark for the offense. It can provide a temporary solution, but it’s his passing that needs to be more consistent. Just look at his work on third downs; it’s not all on him, but his numbers aren’t good here: 7-of-19 passing; 3.1 yards per pass attempt. He’s facing more pressure in those situations.
Griffin said he felt better with his technique in the 38-20 loss to the Packers. He can still improve his overall anticipation and timing on routes, though some of that stems from the receivers getting back in sync with him, too. At times he's throwing the ball as the receiver already is coming out of his break, allowing the defensive back to drive on the ball and break it up. That's a timing built on repetition with the receivers.
“I feel like, just as a group, we’ve all been off a little bit,” Griffin said. “We’ll figure that out and we’ll get it going. We’ve been hitting in practice, in the games at times we are hitting, so I don’t think it’s necessarily a problem. It’s showing up, especially on third down, we just have got to execute better, and we will.”