ASHBURN, Va. -- The game plan didn't call for quarterback Robert Griffin III to run, nor did the Houston Texans always allow him room to do so. It’s also clear the Washington Redskins want Griffin to become a strong pocket passer.
But the Redskins still want his legs to be a part of his game. And when he extends plays, they want to make sure they get better results. Like on the incomplete pass to Andre Roberts against Houston, when Griffin threw the wide-open receiver a pass that led him out of bounds. Roberts was ruled out of bounds and officials did not overturn it after a review.
The point by the Redskins' coaches was this: It was a missed opportunity.
“Those are plays that we need to take advantage of with an elusive, athletic quarterback,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said, “if we are going to really take that next step. Pocket passing is one thing, but when he breaks contain, that’s when there is a lot of damage done, and you see the great ones do that.”
It’s not as if Griffin was bad in Sunday's 17-6 loss. He completed 29 of 37 passes for 267 yards. But the Redskins scored just six points and the third-year quarterback didn’t do enough -- like most of the Redskins' offensive players. The Texans took away the deep ball by playing their corners sometimes 8 and even 9 yards off the receivers. In fact, while the lack of a deep ball was lamented, the coaches wish they had thrown more comebacks and hitches -- they were easy gains all day.
Gruden said the same thing Wednesday about Griffin’s performance that he did Sunday after the game and again Monday. Griffin did some good things and some not so good.
“He was accurate with the football, which was good," Gruden said. "He was decisive with the football, which was good. But there were some other plays in there -- a couple of the sacks he took weren’t very good. Some of his out-of-the-pocket decisions weren’t very good, and that’s where we need to thrive as an offense.”
But really, it’s still about learning to be even more of a pocket passer. That’s not just throwing the ball, it’s learning when to throw it away, too. Whether this is the best usage of Griffin remains to be seen, but this is how the Redskins are using him, so it’s where he must improve.
“If you're going to be a professional football quarterback, you're going to have to learn to be a pocket passer at some point in your career, and he's learning,” Gruden said. “He's not a finished product yet by any stretch of the imagination, but he will get there. I know one thing: that if you keep telling Robert he can’t do something, he's going to do it and he's going to want to do it and he'll get there.
“I like where he's at mentally. I think he's starting to gain momentum and confidence every day out at practice. We just have to carry it over on the field and decisions have to be consistent at the quarterback position, especially when games are tight.”
Also, just because Griffin didn’t have any designed runs Sunday doesn’t mean he won’t in the future. Some games they’ll be a part of the game plan and others they won’t. Two years ago, there were games in which he rarely ran as well, but it was definitely a part of the philosophy. This summer, for example, they rarely used him on designed runs.
“It’s always a threat, it’s always there,” Griffin said. “I’m not trying to stay in the pocket to play quarterback. I’m trying to play a game at an efficient level, at a high level and be what my team needs me to be to win. If that calls on Coach calling more run plays, I’m all for it. If we continue to run the offense we have then I’ll do that, too."