The night wasn’t pretty, nor was it the fault of one person or one area. As usual when an offense struggles it’s a cumulative effort, especially when it comes to the passing game.
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III dropped back to pass eight times, completing 2 of 5 for 8 yards. He was sacked three times and hit on six occasions.
Here’s a look at what happened on each dropback, excluding including one play nullified by a penalty (where he passed up an open receiver to hit a checkdown):
Down and distance: Second-and-11
Time before pass: 2.13 seconds before he was hit.
What happened: Griffin was pressured up the middle then tried to spin to the left away from pressure only to find more. He was sacked and fumbled, but the Redskins recovered.
Why it happened: Griffin had little time to do anything and the receivers were not yet turned around. Right guard Brandon Scherff had the same issue: His hands are too wide, leaving his chest exposed, which the defender used to drive him back into Griffin. Tough to blame this on the quarterback, though it was a good chance for him to show any improved pocket presence/movement if nothing else – the opening was to his right (easy to see after the fact, no doubt). Regardless, he needed to take better care of the ball.
Down and distance: Third-and-21
Time before pass: .98 seconds
What happened: Screen to the left to Andre Roberts.
Why it happened: Nothing bad here. There’s no need to put him in a bad situation so pick up some yards and punt. Smart play call.
Down and distance: First-and-10
Time before pass: 2.98 seconds
What happened: Griffin used play-action and took a five-step drop, only to have his pass batted down by Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead.
Why it happened: Because left tackle Willie Smith was beaten to the inside and driven back into the passing lane on the other side of the pocket. It almost looked like interior pressure, but in reality it was the left tackle getting moved over. The rest of the pocket was solid.
Down and distance: Second-and-10
Time before pass: 1.88 seconds.
What happened: Griffin connected for 4 yards to receiver Pierre Garcon on a little hook route. But Griffin was hit on the throw.
Why it happened: A blitz off the edge left a man free on Griffin, but what compounded it was Smith also giving up pressure again to his inside. The result: Griffin was hit again. It did not impact the play because Griffin was going to Garcon regardless, but it was yet another hit.
Down and distance: Third-and-6
Time before pass: 2.63 seconds
What happened: Griffin took a three-step drop then a hitch step and threw the ball. He was drilled by a linebacker on a delayed blitz.
Why it happened: No one picked up the linebacker. The back, Chris Thompson, went inside to help vs. the five-man rush. But that left the Lions linebacker with a free lane. He had dropped, but when he saw the opening, he took it and drilled Griffin. To Griffin’s credit, he hung in there and delivered a catchable ball to receiver Andre Roberts. Perhaps Griffin could have helped himself by not taking a hitch step and just planting and throwing. The ball was out as Roberts broke.
Down and Distance: Third-and-2.
Time before pass: 1.90 seconds before he was hit.
What happened: Griffin threw incomplete to Garcon on the right side, but mainly because he was drilled as he started to throw. As Griffin started to throw, Garcon was just coming out of his break. At some point a quarterback has to throw with trust in his protection.
Why it happened: Because nobody blocked a defensive end in a four-point stance. That’s a new one. Smith blocked down on the play and the running back, Chris Thompson, was on the other side of Griffin. He looked to that side, started to go there but went to the middle.
Down and distance: Second-and-12
Time before pass: 2.41 seconds
What happened: Griffin was sacked for a 4-yard loss.
Why it happened: Smith allowed the defender into his pads and was driven back. The rest of the pocket was clean, but Griffin tried to move up and did so into more pressure.
Down and distance: Third-and-16
Time before pass: 3.00 seconds
What happened: On another straight dropback, Griffin tried to run through the right side, but the ball was too loose and it fell out. In trying to recover it, he was hit in the head by Detroit lineman Corey Wootton, resulting in a concussion.
Why it happened: Because Griffin took off running from a clean pocket. Maybe he was so scarred by this point that he felt pressure that didn’t exist. Tough way to survive as a passer, though. In this situation, perhaps they could have called screen just to get the ball out – or an inside handoff to Thompson. Regardless, Griffin had options available underneath. The Lions took away the two deep routes – six defenders were at least 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. In this case, hit an underneath target and let them take the punishment. Griffin had zero shot at picking up a first down with his legs.