Thoughts and observations on Robert Griffin III's game against Dallas after watching the game again (and again):
Robert Griffin III showed more explosiveness, which shouldn't be a huge surprise considering he has looked a little better running each week. Is he back to where he was? Close. But he's still faster than just about any other quarterback. It also helped that Dallas played a lot of man coverage, leaving certain plays open on the edges. Don't forget, in the season finale last year -- albeit with a different coordinator -- Griffin ran more zone read even with a gimpy knee. Why? Same reason: lots of man. In those situations, the receiver can run the corner out of the play.
Sunday should prove that it will take more than Griffin's legs to re-ignite this offense. But it was good for the Redskins to see what he did on the ground. And the more he can incorporate his legs, the better this offense will do.
I liked, too, that Griffin has improved at scrambling yet keeping his eyes downfield. One of his better plays in this area was nullified by a holding penalty. Griffin stepped up and to the right and around the rusher and back to the left. As he neared the line of scrimmage, a linebacker in coverage, Sean Lee, started upfield. But that left an opening to throw to Leonard Hankerson for 21 yards. I've seen several examples the past two games of this growth; it's something he didn't do much of last season.
For the most part Griffin handled the zone read option game fine, though there was one time in which he kept the ball that he probably should have handed off. And another time when he should have done the opposite.
Griffin still needs to throw with a little more anticipation. There are (too many) times when he and the receivers aren't in sync. It's not always on the quarterback. Regardless, there are enough examples of this, two involving Pierre Garcon. On one hitch route, Griffin took a five-step drop, then took two small steps forward before releasing the ball; that's too many. Garcon had already made his cut, but because there wasn't enough separation, the corner, Brandon Carr, could recover and break up the pass. Later on that same drive, Griffin was too wide on a corner route to Garcon. Out of the gun, Griffin took three steps and then two more forward before releasing the ball. He then had to make a perfect throw because now there wasn't much field to work with, but did not.
There have been several miscommunications between Garcon and Griffin this season. It happened again when Garcon ran a deep in-route, but Griffin read the play different and threw for an out. The corner played Garcon to the outside and the receiver was open when he turned inside. As he's turning inside, however, Griffin already is releasing the ball. The throw wobbled too much (this happened a couple times).
At the end of the first half, there was another miscommunication. Coach Mike Shanahan said Griffin had signaled to Garcon to run a go route. Instead he ran a hitch. I don't think it would have mattered; the throw landed about three yards out of bounds and was high. Too many missed throws were high -- and a couple completions, too. Smarter people than myself will have to figure out why.
Garcon was upset about the near interception in the second quarter (dropped by safety Barry Church). But I'm not sure that Griffin could have done anything different because of the pressure. The Cowboys rushed six and while Garcon was still running, Griffin had to slide to his left to elude pressure. He re-set and then started to throw -- Garcon was open as he cut. But with a defender crashing into him, Griffin's threw, delayed by the pressure, had no shot.
It's easy to second-guess decisions in the pocket because they're made in seconds. But I'm guessing Griffin would like to have back his 17-yard completion to Leonard Hankerson in the fourth quarter. It was a nice throw under pressure and Hankerson gained 10 yards after the catch. But tight end Jordan Reed was all alone at the 50 -- his man blitzed on the play. The free safety was 17 yards from Reed. So a play that was good still turned out to be a missed opportunity.
Another example of such a play: the 26-yard pass to Santana Moss. He had his man beat with a wheel route from the slot. Griffin completed the pass, but Moss had to stop and wait on the ball. Had Griffin hit him in stride he would have gained another 10 or 15 yards.
Tough to knock Griffin for not hitting Alfred Morris in stride in the red zone. Dallas ran at Griffin just about every time he ran the bootleg and with DeMarcus Ware in his face Griffin just had to get the throw off. Morris dropped the ball, which was inside. Had he somehow led him, Morris might have scored.
Griffin's interception is easily explainable: Moss slipped as he cut -- and just after Griffin released the ball.
Griffin needs to take better care of the ball in the pocket when he's starting to look for an opening. It led to a fumble recovered by Kory Lichtensteiger. Griffin had time on the play, but the Cowboys had everyone covered.
There needed to be a better internal clock on the fumble that Dallas recovered. Griffin had the ball in the pocket for 3.7 seconds -- on a night in which the protection broke down too often. Griffin could have thrown underneath to Garcon; it might have gained just five yards but it sure beat the alternative and they still would have had another down (and around 14 yards).