Washington Redskins: Examining Why Robert Griffin III Is Taking so Many Hits

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Washington Redskins: Examining Why Robert Griffin III Is Taking so Many Hits
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Washington Redskins' greatest fear has to be losing Robert Griffin III. And so protecting Griffin—from opposing defenses as well as from himself—is of utmost importance.

That's not an easy thing to do, obviously. Just ask the Philadelphia Eagles, who have struggled so badly to keep Michael Vick healthy the last few years.

Griffin has already run the ball 20 times, which is more than Vick, Cam Newton or any other quarterback in the league. And as a result, he's still taking more shots than he should be. 

In fact, he took 13 of them against the Rams in Week 2.

I went through the tape from Sunday's game in St. Louis, identified the 13 hits RG3 took and then assigned blame in what we'll call a risk assessment post.

 

Hit No. 1

The pocket is collapsing quickly on Griffin as soon as he completes his drop on a third down. He has a split second to throw, but there's nothing there.

A moment later, he's being swallowed up for a sack.

Specifically, this falls on left tackle Trent Williams, who is beat handily by Robert Quinn.

At fault?
Pass protection: 100%
Griffin: 0% 

Risk of injury?
Moderate 

 

Hit No. 2

Griffin could have done a better job at recognizing the blitz here. Or at least accounting for it, anyway. It appears he has a chance to make a quick throw here...

Or one second later, here...

It certainly looked as though he had some half-decent options, especially in the right flat.

Instead, all hell broke lose the second after that.

He ends up taking a big hit and an intentional grounding penalty. Drive killer and fearful moment.

Still, the line has to hold up better than that. The majority of the hits Griffin's taking in the pocket are on the line, and have little to do with his decision-making skills.

At fault?
Pass protection: 80%
Griffin: 20% 

Risk of injury?
Moderate

 

Hit No. 3

Griffin does exactly what he's been asked to do, scrambling for a positive gain and getting out of bounds. The problem is that he's shoved hard as he lets up at the end of the play. 

He'd go crashing into someone on the sideline and fall hard after losing his balance. The hit drew a penalty for coming late, but it was a bad call. Griffin should have finished his run forcefully. This wasn't an overly dangerous moment, but it's still on him.

At fault?
Pass protection: 0%
Griffin: 100%

Risk of injury?
Low 

 

Hit No. 4

With one minute to play in the first half, Griffin takes off on a third-and-10. There was a clear opening, so I like the decision.

The problem emerges when he's about a yard shy of the first down. If he takes a quarterback slide here, he might not get the spot. But defenders are collapsing on him quickly.

He crashes forward instead, gaining his team five valuable yards and a fresh set of downs, but also taking an awkward hit. This is right out of the Michael Vick playbook. Admirable but dangerous. 

At fault?
Pass protection: 0%
Griffin: 100%

Risk of injury?
High 

 

Hit No. 5

Griffin is hit as he tosses it back to Alfred Morris. It's pretty innocuous, though, and takes Robert Quinn out of the play entirely.

 

At fault?

Pass protection: 0%
Griffin: 100%

Risk of injury?
Extremely low 

 

Hit No. 6

Griffin again opts to do it on his own in a desperate situation. He can either slide down inside the five-yard line to set up third-and-goal or he can risk his body and put six points on the board.

He's hit hard and is spun around in the air while falling into the end zone. 

And he lands pretty hard, too.

This is the second example we have where Griffin opts not to slide. In both cases, he got his team some very valuable yards, and in the second spot he put points on the board. It's very hard to fault him for that, but an argument could be made that the risk wasn't worth the reward on second down here. I would just have to disagree with that argument.

At fault?
Pass protection: 0%
Griffin: 100%

Risk of injury?
Moderate 

 

Hit No. 7

Griffin sees an opening to after keeping it on a packaged play. 

He makes the play but there's no chance of avoiding a hit from James Laurinaitis

But it certainly did look as though Griffin had the option to throw to Josh Morgan, avoiding a hit and probably gaining more yards.

There's a chance the play call didn't give Griffin that option, but I'm guessing it did.

At fault?
Pass protection: 0%
Griffin: 100%

Risk of injury?
Moderate 

 

Hit No. 8

Same drive. He again takes it on his own but this time it's a good call that results in a first down. As he arrives at that first down marker, he does have a split second where he can slide down safely. 

But instead he takes a big hit, gaining a few extra yards for his troubles.

At fault?
Pass protection: 0%
Griffin: 100%

Risk of injury?
Moderate 

 

Hit No. 9

This is an illegal hit that wasn't flagged. Griffin has already released the ball in this shot.

William Hayes tries to pull up but still drives RG3 to the ground.

At fault?
Pass protection: 0%
Griffin: 0%

Risk of injury?
Very low

 

Hit No. 10

The only time he showed any sign of sliding like a quarterback was when he was surrounded by three St. Louis defenders in the open field on a fourth-quarter scramble. And as you can see, it was a little awkward. 

He'd actually take a light hit from Cortland Finnegan, but it was up around the head. Had he slid properly, that might not have happened. This also could have produced a flag.

At fault?
Pass protection: 0%
Griffin: 100%

Risk of injury?
Low

 

Hit No. 11

The pocket collapses on Griffin quickly but he does have underneath options. 

The pressure forces him to throw at Fred Davis, and he inevitably takes a hit as well. Williams held Quinn this time, and was flagged for it, but Quinn still got through to take Griffin down.

At fault?
Pass protection: 100%
Griffin: 0%

Risk of injury?
Low

 

Hit No. 12

Again there's pressure right out of his drop, but he has options. Is Griffin thinking about the fact it's second-and-20 and trying to make something happen in the final minutes?

Nope, he almost immediately goes to Evan Royster underneath, but the throw is off again. The rush is really getting to him, and he'd take another shot while releasing. Fox didn't provide an adequate replay, but it was a tad awkward.

At fault?
Pass protection: 100%
Griffin: 0%

Risk of injury?
Moderate

 

Hit No. 13

Trying to make something happen down three on Washington's final series, Griffin takes off and breaks a tackle, gaining nice yardage. He sort of half-takes a chance to duck out of bounds here.

But he still takes an unnecessary shot to the back from Craig Dahl

At fault?
Pass protection: 0%
Griffin: 100% 

Risk of injury?
Low

 

In this game, Griffin was fully responsible for eight of the 13 hits he took, while his pass protection was only responsible on three or four occasions. That means his mediocre offensive line is holding up well enough. He just has to reduce that personal responsibility number from about eight to about four.

Ideally, he won't run the ball 10 times per game for the remainder of his career. He's still approaching the game as a passer first and a runner second, but the odds state he's eventually going to get hurt if he exposes himself that often. 

If he doesn't reduce the number of runs he makes, he certainly has to work on sliding and getting out of bounds more, even if it means sacrificing a few extra yards.

In his defense, I only showed the hits in this post. Griffin did scamper out of bounds on a few occasions and was very good at dumping the ball off when he sensed the pressure was too high. He just has to make plays like those more often.

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