Robert Griffin III Delivers Impressive Preseason Cameo for Washington Redskins

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 9, 2012

ASHBURN, VA - JULY 26:  Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins looks on during training camp at Redskins Park on July 26, 2012 in Ashburn, Virginia.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Washington Redskins fans should be happy with their first glimpse of Robert Griffin III in competitive, or at least semi-competitive, action.

The second overall pick in the 2012 draft performed well against the Buffalo Bills' defensive starters in their preseason opener. The former Heisman Trophy winner directed an impressive 80-yard scoring drive, culminating in his first pro touchdown pass.

Griffin finished with respectable numbers, completing 4-of-6 passes for 70 yards. Twenty of those yards came on a well-executed screen play to Pierre Garcon.

The free-agent acquisition looked sharp, and Griffin wasn't shy about getting Garcon the ball. The ex-Indianapolis Colt hauled in three receptions for 58 yards.

It was pleasing to see Griffin appear so comfortable with starting wideouts Garcon and Leonard Hankerson. That kind of rapport will be vital to the passing game, and Griffin clearly feels confident about Garcon and Hankerson's ability to make plays after the catch.

The play-calling was initially tight and conservative. The Redskins had clearly taken care to design safe intermediate routes to encourage Griffin to get rid of the ball quickly and avoid over-reading the defense.

While the early play-calls were perhaps a little too cautious, Kyle Shanahan shouldn't be criticised for his choices. There is an enormous amount of pressure on Griffin's shoulders heading into the season, and this regime has already made the mistake of trying to force the entire offense onto quarterbacks all at once.

Taking a more measured approach, even in the opening preseason game, is a sign that the Shanahans may be prepared to take more account of what their young signal-caller can and can't do. The early indications are that Griffin can do quite a bit.

His mechanics were particularly impressive during his limited action. The speed of his release was high, and there appeared to be no trace of the indecision that had reportedly blighted him early on in training camp.

Perhaps most impressive was how Griffin handled the play-action game. His play fakes were flawless, and he quickly set his feet and worked the gaps created by the misdirection.

Given how big a role the play action and the moving pocket plays in the Shanahan system, it's encouraging to see Griffin looking so accomplished in this area. The only blemish on Griffin's cameo was a messed-up handoff to Evan Royster, but that will improve with more continuity in the backfield.

It may have only been the briefest of glimpses, but the player the Redskins paid a hefty trade ransom to acquire still made a good first impression against a highly-touted defense. More showings like this, will create plenty of optimism about the Redskins offense this season.