LANDOVER, Md. -- The quarterback dashed up in the pocket, backpedaled, moved to his right and made a throw that resulted in a big play. Another time, in another bind, he backpedaled, spun out to his left and dumped the ball to the running back for a killer first down.
It was the type of quarterback play the Redskins hoped to see on their home field. It just wasn't the guy they hoped to see it from. In Monday's 27-17 Seahawks victory, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson provided a blueprint that the guy who couldn't play, Robert Griffin III, would be wise to follow. It also was a reminder that, yes, mobile quarterbacks can win in the NFL -- and survive.
But again, you have to emulate Wilson. Credit backup Kirk Cousins for a solid game without benefit of a run game, but the fact remains that Washington has lost his past six starts. It's not all on him, of course. But when Griffin returns, he provides the same element as Wilson: the ability to make plays when nothing is available.
Two years ago, there was probably more confidence that Griffin would be the quarterback for Wilson to mimic. Griffin would lead the future wave of quarterbacks. Then came the knee injury followed by a variety of issues. The result is that Griffin remains a developing quarterback, one who should be inserted back into the lineup when ready. Cousins has done some good things; Griffin can do some great things -- if he develops the way the Redskins need and want.
That takes us back to Wilson. He and Griffin are different quarterbacks, so it's not as simple as saying both can run, therefore they can play the same. Though Wilson ran the ball 11 times Monday night (for 122 yards), that's not his game.
“Russell kept it a lot more than he showed on film,” Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo said.
Washington was aggressively pursuing Seattle's running backs, Marshawn Lynch in particular. So Wilson made the wise choice of keeping it himself. He's built differently than Griffin, and he has been more used to operating in the pocket throughout his playing days. Wilson is one of the smartest quarterbacks in the NFL, with a knack for sensing what the right play is or should be.
“Russell is more reactionary than Rob,” Redskins safety Ryan Clark said. “With Rob, you plan for him to run that much. His trait as a runner is exceptional. I don't know if Russell's traits are exceptional as far as his speed and his running. But it's his decision-making. It's knowing when to run. It's more mental than it is physical.”
That's the part that Griffin is still developing. Meanwhile, Wilson excels because when he moves in the pocket, he keeps his eyes downfield and big plays result. His two longest passes -- a 36-yarder to tight end Cooper Helfet and a 30-yarder to Lynch -- came off scrambles. Wilson doesn't try to be a hero with his legs. Instead, he used his legs to let others make long gains. There's a maturity to Wilson's game that any young quarterback would be wise to follow.
Griffin can get there. And you can't forget that, two years ago, he was making those plays. His fourth-down play against the Giants in Week 7 of his rookie season was as good as anything Wilson showed Monday. But even then, Griffin too often tucked the ball five or 10 yards behind the line and missed some potential big plays by running. As he grows, those plays must be turned into long passes; it's what Wilson typically has done.
When Griffin returns, he needs to not only show he can extend plays but can make the decisions necessary to win games. The Seahawks have shown there's a tremendous value to having a dynamic player like Wilson. They also haven't tried to change him. The Redskins also don't need to change Griffin; they just need him to do what he does -- but to just do it wiser. And if it happens, the Redskins will once again have what Seattle does: a player who can make something out of nothing -- and carry his team to a win.