Some thoughts and observations on quarterback Robert Griffin III's night vs. Baltimore. After re-watching his outing Sunday morning, here's what stood out:
Indecision: Saw this a few times. Griffin would hit the final step in his drop and then hitch or hesitate. It led to missed opportunities. I go back to what Ryan Clark told me this summer: He knows when a quarterback gets it in an offense when he’s hitting that last step and getting rid of the ball. That didn't happen Saturday for a few reasons.
On an out route from his own 10-yard line, Griffin took a five-step drop and then a two-step hitch. After DeSean Jackson broke, the ball came out and was incomplete. Griffin was hit as he threw (3.1 seconds), but if he had thrown on time, he’d have been hit after he threw a possible completion.
Griffin also appeared to have Pierre Garcon open on a deep-in route -- if he’s decisive and leads him just a little, away from a linebacker dropping underneath (albeit one moving away from Garcon). At 2.8 seconds, Griffin took off to his right and lost five yards on a first down rather than throwing it away. He put himself in a tough spot.
The other one was the near pick-six (that would have been nullified by an offsides penalty). Still, Griffin hit his third step and hesitated. The ball was not released until after Jackson had turned around -- that’s about when it should be arriving.
Griffin also had a chance on two other plays for better results. On a third-and-3, with a bunch formation to his left, receiver Andre Roberts ran from the back left to the middle. It’s hard to tell from the TV angle if Griffin was looking at him or if Roberts was ready to catch had the ball been thrown. Regardless, Griffin ended up being sacked after 2.6 seconds.
On the first play of the second half, Griffin had enough time in the pocket, and he had a tight end breaking down the seam (though Jordan Reed was held up by a linebacker’s jam near the line, possibly messing up the timing. Still, he was open). At 3.1 seconds, and with the line giving him a good pocket, he checked down to a covered Alfred Morris; the ball was deflected and intercepted. Morris’s hands aren’t the best when uncovered -- let alone with someone is all over him. Probably not the best option. But I get that if he’s in the game and you’re going to check down, then that’s where you go. However, he was covered, and there was a shot down the seam to Reed. By the way, this is the sort of play Griffin occasionally missed as a rookie, but it wasn’t as noticeable because other big plays were made.
Protecting himself: Griffin took off running to his right on a third-and-13, though he had a safety valve in Roy Helu to his left. Neither was going to pick up a first down. And I know Griffin feels like he must be decisive when it comes to running -- in this case he ran out of bounds after a few yards and wasn’t hit. Still, I’m sure he knows where his checkdowns are, and in this case, one was available. Later, Griffin did wisely hit Helu on a third-and-19 checkdown.
Jackson’s speed: Griffin did not hesitate on the deep ball to Jackson. He looked left and pumped -- there was a single-high safety he obviously wanted to draw away. Jackson started to separate from his man, but Griffin just underthrew him. There was no hitch as Griffin turned and let it fly right after the pump fake. But, with Jackson, you need to really lead him.
Protection: The Ravens consistently generated pressure from a four-man front and played often with two safeties deep. It’s exactly the approach that has hurt this offense the past two years. Every starter on the line had an issue or two that led to a bad pocket. Trent Williams was called for holding once and allowed pressure another time. Tyler Polumbus was beaten for a sack. Shawn Lauvao and Chris Chester both were beaten and either resulted in a hit or pressure. Kory Lichtensteiger allowed pressure. It was a tough mix Saturday -- an indecisive quarterback with a line that could not give him the extra time he always needed.
Red zone: Griffin took a bad snap, reached high and had to escape to his right. As he did so, receiver Andre Roberts briefly broke open running to the same side. Griffin could have thrown the ball, but he also protected the points -- given where the Redskins were at, a field goal was a near gimme. And I didn’t have a problem with him running out of bounds and losing four yards, making it a 32-yard field goal instead of 28. Coaches don’t have an issue in that regard, either, as it’s obviously still a makeable field goal.
Positives: There weren’t many, for Griffin or the entire offense. Growing pains mean bad outings, and this one qualified without a doubt. The Redskins are committed to him, as they should be. Griffin did make two good throws to Reed, first on a third-and-4,in which he worked back to Reed’s side and delivered the ball in 2.5 seconds. Later, he hit Reed on a third-and-9 in which he stepped up in the pocket and found Reed running to the left. But the 29-yard catch-and-run was negated by a Williams’ hold.