Robert Griffin III Beats Andrew Luck, Redskins Roster Cuts: The Armchair Coach
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The Armchair Coach held off dissecting the victory of Robert Griffin III over Andrew Luck until the first wave of Washington Redskins roster cuts were announced today.
Well, the main reason is that the Armchair Coach felt like the whole Luck vs. Griffin story was a bunch of made up, manufactured hoopla. The secondary reason is that the game could be better analyzed once we saw who was let go after a convincing 30-17 victory for the 'Skins.
Both teams had impressive performances from roster hopefuls on the bubble, and both teams also had a few players who simply didn't show up.
Today, we'll look at some of the consequences of the game with regard to roster cuts in Washington, and the overall preparedness of the team headed into the regular season.
This week's final preseason game will be the last opportunity for bubble players to earn a roster spot. The first team is already done with preseason action and has shifted to preparing for Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints.
The fact that RG3 isn't going to see another snap until then is also a factor your humble Armchair Coach would like to address.
Robert Griffin III Attempted 31 Passes in the Preseason
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During the game against the Colts Saturday, Robert Griffin III threw 11-17 passes for 74 yards, including a perfect throw to Santana Moss for a touchdown.
His preseason total for pass attempts is 31. Mike Shanahan has gone out of his way to showcase a balanced attack and straightforward play calling to limit the exposure of his new franchise quarterback.
Not to mention, it's kind of hard to justify throwing the ball when your rookie running back is tearing out 107 yards in only two quarters of play.
Robert Griffin III has played essentially five quarters of live football. He has been sacked three times, but has also thrown zero interceptions.
By virtually every cautious, conservative viewpoint, RG3 has had a very good introduction to the speed of the NFL game. His confidence should be high, and his body should be fresh and ready for the long 16-game season ahead of him.
Wait—RG3 Has Only Passed 31 Times?
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Perhaps we need to revisit this fact. Robert Griffin only threw the ball 31 times in the entire preseason?
Mike Shanahan has never restricted his quarterback to that extent before, nor is it a normal strategy within the league.
By way of comparison, Andrew Luck has thrown over twice as many passes so far.
When you consider the number of times the word "repetitions" has been used in the same sentence as "growth" concerning Robert Griffin III this year, it seems almost counter intuitive on the part of the coaching staff to give him less than 50 percent of those repetitions compared to his peers.
It seems to this humble writer that we are looking at a much higher risk of rookie growing pains affecting this team's win/loss column this season than we need to.
As I stated before, RG3's confidence should be high, but a positive attitude simply does not beat experience.
In the game vs. Indianapolis, RG3 let loose a couple of deep strikes that went for incompletions. On the sidelines it was reported that he talked to Pierre Garcon and told him that those plays would come with time.
Uh, yeah. Like maybe with 31 more pass attempts to develop that timing with your No. 1 target? Some teams (O.K., all teams) did that in the preseason.
Addition by Subtraction
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Somehow Graham Gano won the job as placekicker by NOT kicking a field goal in the preseason. There is a joke about the Washington Redskins special teams in there somewhere, but I'm not feeling funny.
Neil Rackers was released as part of the initial roster reduction despite repeated soundbites from the coaching staff that the job would be decided during the preseason. The stated reason was that Gano had the better percentages in practice, but the real reason was that Rackers missed a 54 yard attempt against the Bears.
This represents a philosophical change on the part of the Redskins special teams. Cundiff does not have a strong leg, nor does he have a very good career average, but he consistently kicks out of the end zone on kickoffs, and he usually makes clutch kicks. In fact, he made it to the Pro-bowl in 2010.
Clutch kicking is where Gano showed his greatest weakness over the last three years.
Meet Your (Eventual) Starting Running Back
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Quick—What is burgundy and gold and runs downhill like a sixth-round pick?
Not Alfred Morris. He runs like a man who knows what an end zone is for and knows how he plans to get there.
If there is one thing Alfred Morris has shown this preseason it's that all he needs is for the offensive line to do their job at the most basic level. As long as he hits the line of scrimmage before initial contact, he's making big yards.
Yes, against the Bears he had a rough showing, but read my previous paragraph again. How many times was Morris met in the backfield by the Bears? Non-scientific answer? A lot.
Against the softer front line of the Colts, Morris went 107 yards in only 14 carries.
Now look at the state of the lower extremities of the other three options at running back: Tim Hightower's ACL might be healthy enough to play at the start of the season, Roy Helu and his tendons might be healthy enough to run by the middle of the season and Evan Royster's knees might be healthy enough to play off and on.
So by default, as long as Morris stays healthy, he's going to get reps. This is something the Armchair Coach is very, very excited to see. Is Morris the next Shanahan success story?
I hope so, because he sure is fun to watch so far.
Odds and Ends
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In an interesting move on cut day, the Washington Redskins traded hometown, feel-good story CB Kevin Barnes to the Detroit Lions for a conditional draft pick.
I admit to hometown favoritism, but with the chaotic secondary situation that coach Raheem Morris inherited, it seems that Richard Crawford impressed enough that, along with the assumed move to the slot by DeAngelo Hall, there just wasn't a place on the team for Barnes.
Here's hoping Barnes lands on his feet in Detroit and has a good career.
In other news that surprises absolutely no one at all, right tackle Jammal Brown has a hip problem. He's been moved to the reserve/PUP list and is out until at least Week 6. The fact that he is still even on the team is a scathing indictment of the team's failure to address the offensive line in the offseason.
Throughout the preseason Tyler Polumbus has failed to secure a starting spot over a guy who has two bad hips. Not a good sign.
Overall, however, the Washington Redskins starters seem to be coming together. It's only preseason, admittedly, but the first team looked very good against the Colts.
I believe the team should be well rested and ready to showcase some schemes that absolutely no one has seen yet when RG3 takes the field against the New Orleans Saints in two weeks.