Falcons vs. Redskins: RG3's Style Finally Costs Washington Big in Tough Loss

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistOctober 7, 2012

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 07: Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins is attended to after taking a hard hit against the Atlanta Falcons in the third quarter at FedExField on October 7, 2012 in Landover, Maryland. Robert Griffin III left the game after the hit. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

On one hand, the Washington Redskins have to be encouraged by the fact the defense held its ground against the NFL's top-rated passer while the team was in contention in the final two minutes for the fifth time in as many weeks.

On the other hand, against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, the Redskins lost both the game and their franchise quarterback.

Sadly, neither development came as a surprise. 

The only criticism you could possibly assign to Robert Griffin III thus far in his rookie season would be the fact that he exposes himself to far too many hits. Most figured it was only a matter of time before one of those hits would take Griffin off the field, making it extremely difficult—if not impossible—for the 'Skins to contend.

Unfortunately for Washington, that moment arrived in Week 5. The timing couldn't have been worse, with the 'Skins holding a 10-7 lead before losing Griffin for the remainder of the game. The team announced that he was "shaken up"—whatever that means—but it's the second time in as many weeks that he's had to be checked out for a possible concussion.

Regardless, Washington had to go to Kirk Cousins, who threw more interceptions on nine pass attempts than Griffin has all season, and was outscored 17-7 during the final 21 minutes of the game. 

Obviously we can't know for sure if the Redskins would have won Sunday with Griffin playing all 60 minutes, but I feel pretty confident that Griffin wouldn't have thrown two picks in the final two minutes.

I saw some Twitter chatter that the hit that forced Griffin from the game didn't come as a result of the rookie quarterback making a bad decision, but I disagree. This was an avoidable hit, as RG3 was again trying to make a play where it didn't exist. 

Griffin was out of the tackle box and had nobody open on 3rd-and-goal. But instead of throwing it away, he hit the edge and tried to make a dash for the end zone from 15 yards out.

He could have run out of bounds at around the 10-yard line without risking injury. 

Instead, he pushed for a few extra yards and got pounded by Sean Weatherspoon.

Griffin's nose for the end zone and his ability to improvise make him who he is, but at this level, he can't afford to take those hits. And as we saw Sunday, the Redskins can't afford not to have him in the lineup. In situations like those, Griffin has to do a better job at weighing the pros and cons of such an effort on the run.

This, of course, isn't an easy thing to do. But he either overestimated his ability to beat that defense on the edge or he was willing to take that hit despite not scoring. Either way, it was a mistake. The risk wasn't worth the reward.

If there's a silver lining, it's that Griffin didn't break any bones and it's only being called a "mild concussion." These things are unpredictable, but you have to think he'll be back soon. 

The long-term concern, though, is that this will continue to happen. Next time, maybe it won't be so mild, or maybe it'll be a broken collarbone or wrist. 

And that would destroy the team's already slim chance of competing.