New Orleans Saints: There's More to Planning for Robert Griffin III Than Week 1

Knox Bardeen@knoxbardeenNFC South Lead WriterSeptember 7, 2012

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III
Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin IIIPatrick McDermott/Getty Images

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is going to immensely help the New Orleans Saints Sunday when the rookie leads Washington into town for its Week 1 game. But Griffin’s assistance has nothing to do with the eventual outcome of the game.

Griffin will help New Orleans game plan for future obstacles throughout the season.

While at Baylor, Griffin threw for 10,355 yards; 4,293 of those came last year. He also rushed for 2,254 career yards, carrying the ball 179 times last season for 699 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Griffin can hurt a defense with both his arm and his legs, and it’s that dual-threat capability that not only intrigued the Redskins and landed Griffin as the second overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, but will show the Saints just how adept their defense is in containment.

In Wednesday’s press conference, Saints interim head coach Aaron Kromer praised Griffin and said he hoped the New Orleans defense could contain him.

When you get a guy that can really run, it is important that you contain him, that you keep him within the realms of the defense where you can corner him in and not let him out and run in space. You give a guy like that, that’s that fast and elusive a lot of space, that is a problem.

It’s happened multiple times throughout the preseason already. Against Chicago, the pocket collapsed on Griffin and he squirted to the outside for a 14-yard gain.

Try as he did, defensive end Israel Idonije could neither contain nor catch Griffin.

Against Indianapolis, Griffin called a play that featured an empty backfield and pressure immediately came up the middle of the offensive line, untouched.

Linebacker Kavell Conner missed Griffin and the rookie passer turned into a rookie scrambler.

Griffin got outside the tackle box, away from any containment, and gained five yards.

Not only does New Orleans have to find a way to stop Griffin so the Saints can win their opening game of the season, but handling a dual-threat quarterback is something the Saints must master because Griffin isn’t the only quarterback on the schedule that can burn a defense with his legs.

The Saints have to play Carolina and Cam Newton twice in 2012, in Week 2 and Week 17. Newton broke the all-time rookie rushing record for quarterbacks last season crossing the goal line 14 times and rushing for 706 yards.

After Griffin and Newton, New Orleans then has to face Michael Vick.

In Week 9, Vick comes to New Orleans. Vick rushed for 589 yards last season in just 13 games, and three times in his career has rushed for more than 700 yards in a season.

The Saints will play four games against three dual-threat quarterbacks in 2012, and they’ll do so with a new defensive scheme from Steve Spagnuolo.

Spagnuolo will find ways to bolster the New Orleans pass rush, but once the Saints get to the dual-threat quarterback, can they keep him in the pocket? If the linebacker corps is going to assist in keeping Griffin, Newton and Vick from beating New Orleans with their legs, how will they perform?

Don’t forget this is a very different linebacker corps than was present in New Orleans last season.

Last season, Newton threw for 382 yards in two games with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for 59 yards and a score. New Orleans needed a last-minute touchdown pass from Drew Brees in Week 5 to beat Carolina.

The 2012 version of the Saints defense looks much different, and Sunday’s game against Washington—in particular in defending Griffin—will go a long way toward showing everyone how New Orleans will fare against dual-threat quarterbacks.