Robert Griffin III has received good reviews for the way he played in three series last week against Buffalo, but let's take a look at the tape and review his six pass attempts in order to gain a little more insight into what RG3 was able to do against the Bills.
Pass No. 1: 3rd-and-8 from the Washington 22-yard line. After back-to-back failed runs to start the game, the Bills know Griffin's probably going to throw his first pass. He's in shotgun with Evan Royster to his right and, after Fred Davis motions, has two receivers and a tight end bunched inside the left slot.
There's nothing complicated about this, but with man coverage on the right and no help on either side of the line, Griffin is obviously planning to deliver the ball quickly.
The pocket collapses fairly quickly, but Griffin has nearly two full seconds to find his only open receiver. Buffalo's coverage was good, but Pierre Garcon gains some space on a deep out. Griffin doesn't look right, but appears to make at least one progression with the bunched receivers. Had Garcon not been open, we might have seen him take off, using Royster as a blocker in the right flat.
As you can see, Garcon doesn't get his second foot in bounds.
Yes, that's primarily on Garcon, but had Griffin delivered the pass the moment Garcon broke, he might have completed the pass in bounds. It wasn't until at least half a second later when RG3 recognized Garcon was going to be open. By then, it was too late.
UPDATE: Another shot apparently revealed that Garcon got both feet down, and that the call was botched. That doesn't change the fact that Griffin could have avoided that by hitting his target more quickly, but it does get Garcon off the hook.
Pass No. 2: 2nd-and-13 from the Washington 9-yard line. Another fairly obvious passing situation, but they've protected Griffin with two tight ends. He's in shotgun again, with Garcon to the left and Leonard Hankerson to the right.
This is the easiest pass a quarterback can have. His protection is good, but he sees that Hankerson will have an easy time on a short out route against zone coverage. He goes that way without hesitation, which is exactly what the Shanahans want to see.
It won't always be this easy, but he gets the job done and picks up 12 yards on his first completion.
Pass No. 3: 1st-and-10 from the Washington 20-yard line. The 'Skins handed off on first down to start their first two series, so play-action made some sense here.
The fake doesn't completely get Nick Barnett coming off the edge, but it causes him to change his path, buying Griffin enough time to come out of the fake, plant his feet and deliver a short pass to Niles Paul, which Paul drops. It wouldn't have gone for much anyway.
Unfortunately, the Buffalo broadcast didn't offer a replay, and we couldn't get a good luck at the initial coverage. But as you can see, Griffin had nowhere to run and little time to throw the ball. He again avoided a sack or a hit and moved on to the next play.
Pass No. 4: 2nd-and-10 from the Washington 20-yard line. Same look they used on the Hankerson completion, except even tighter, offering more protection.
Griffin looks toward Hankerson on the right first, but then sees Garcon open on a slant route. The pass protection would have allowed him more time had he wanted it, but he still gets it off within three seconds of the snap.
One second later...
Pass No. 5: 2nd-and-7 from the Washington 43-yard line. Again, the scripted start is conservative, with a lot of help being offered to the tackles. We see that again here, and this time, Griffin has Chris Cooley in as his fullback.
You can also see Bills defensive end Chris Kelsay jumping offside here. He bit on a hard count from Griffin.
Cooley joins the blocking front like a champion, as does Royster after sort of a weak play-action fake. This gives Griffin all the time in the world.
The Bills don't blitz, though, so you'd think the coverage would be good and that RG3's options would be limited. Instead, Garcon is somehow wide open. Griffin finds him for 18 yards.
Pass No. 6: 3rd-and-3 from the Washington 20-yard line. Prior to this, the 'Skins were showing a more aggressive front, with three wide receivers split out further than they had been all game and the Bills in press coverage on the outside. But they called timeout and went back to the well with a much tighter look.
He doesn't have to do much, but RG3 stays composed with Mark Anderson rushing and flips a screen pass into Garcon's hands three yards behind the line of scrimmage. Garcon gets some good blocking and takes it to the end zone.
Griffin does exactly what's asked of him here, trusting Garcon to fall back into his spot. He gets rid of the ball immediately upon taking the snap, which again keeps him from getting touched, keeps the drive alive and ends up leading to six points.
Again, he wasn't asked to do a lot in Week 1 of the preseason, but Griffin delivered. He kept his uniform clean and hit all six of his intended receivers in the hands. He might have been 5-for-6 had he released his first pass a split second sooner, but there probably wasn't much he could do under a hot pursuit on the incomplete pass to Niles Paul.
All in all, it was a very positive start.
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