Griffin's poise gives him edge in QB battle

Ryan Griffin looked great in the New Orleans Saints’ preseason opener Friday night, completing 16 of 23 passes for 179 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions.

What stood out to me most of all was Griffin’s poise and maturity -- the two main reasons why I think the second-year pro is ready to seize the Saints’ backup quarterback job.

No offense to veteran Luke McCown, who is a great guy, a great fit in the Saints’ locker room and has done nothing to deserve losing his job over the past two seasons. But if Griffin continues to prove he has enough poise and polish to be the No. 2 guy, then the Saints will have the luxury of keeping just two quarterbacks on the roster.

Griffin looked calm, cool and collected after entering Friday’s game late in the first quarter. He led the Saints to three touchdowns and a field goal while rallying them to a 26-24 victory over the Rams.

Most impressive was the way the 6-foot-5, 206-pounder did an outstanding job of handling pressure -- whether it was throwing the ball away when necessary or quickly finding dynamic receiver Brandin Cooks for a 25-yard touchdown play before getting drilled on an all-out blitz.

“First off, the offensive line did a great job all night,” Griffin said after the game. “With the run game and the protection, they were great. On the one play, they happened to bring an all-out blitz. I know I just had to get it out to Brandin, and he did his job, made somebody miss to get in the end zone.”

Another subtle thing that stood out to me with Griffin was the way he pointed out defensive penalties to the officials or the sideline before flags were even thrown on two or three occasions. It reminded me of Drew Brees, who does that all the time because he’s so certain of what he’s seeing on the field.

Like I said, it was a subtle thing. But a lot of those big things and small things alike are adding up to show that Griffin already seems ready to handle the Saints’ backup role in his second season after being signed as an undrafted rookie out of Tulane.

“I think a lot like we talked about after the scrimmage, obviously Luke is a veteran. He’s been around a long time. He’s very comfortable in the huddle and you can feel that kind of confidence. Ryan has turned into that quickly,” Saints offensive tackle Zach Strief said after Friday’s game. “Obviously it’s just his second year, but he’s a sponge. He’s absorbed a lot of information. I think he did a really good job of just getting us in the right place tonight.

“Just watching, knowing what we’re supposed to run things into and what we’re not, he did a good job of getting us into the right play. Obviously he showed a lot of poise on the touchdown pass, standing in, knowing he’s going to get drilled, and he delivered the ball perfectly and gives Brandin a chance to make a play.

“We like both of them a lot, not just as players but as guys. It’s good to see your guys play well and perform how you see them every day.”