Breaking Down Areas Where Superstar Rookie RG3 Still Must Improve

Brian FillerCorrespondent INovember 7, 2012

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 04:  Quarterback Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers and quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins talk following the Panthers 21-13 win at FedExField on November 4, 2012 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Ten weeks ago RG3 took the lead by storm with one of the most impressive rookie starts in Washington Redskins’ history. Armed with a quick release and blazing speed, the Baylor standout began carving through the NFL’s defenses. The rookie sensation was already beginning to live up to the monumental expectations set in preseason.

Now more than halfway through the season, the Redskins' young quarterback is beginning to struggle. With a battered offensive line and a ball-dropping receiving corps, the Redskins have fallen to 3-6.

Any hopes of making the postseason will require the Redskins to win at least six of the next eight games. The O-line and receiving corps are not likely to improve during this time. Therefore RG3 will need to do everything he can to improve his game and propel the Redskins into the playoffs.

Feeling the pressure

The Redskins offensive line has been a weak point for longer than most would you care to admit. RG3’s mobility is a valuable tool that can provide extra time to make a play. However RG3 has struggled, as of late, to “feel” the pressure in the pocket.

Pocket protection requires a quarterback to analyze the defense pre-snap, order-of-protection scheme from the offensive line and “feel” pressure while in the pocket. Quarterbacks must have the ability to sense the pressure while still keeping their eyes downfield. Without the sixth sense, QBs will continue to be hit and eventually watch the pass rush rather than the receivers.

To his credit, RG3 is a pocket passer with mobility and is not a running quarterback. He will stand in the pocket and make throws despite his ability to take off. However, RG3 needs to do a better job of sensing the collapsing pocket.

The offensive line, Tyler Polumbus mostly, is struggling in pass protection and it is leading to too many sacks. RG3 needs to speed up his mental countdown for when he breaks the pocket. This will allow the Redskins to not so many drives with a third-down sack.

Short-range accuracy 

RG3 is an incredibly accurate quarterback and his numbers should be even higher. Currently the rookie sensation is sporting a 65.6 percent completion rate and that’s with an extraordinary amount of drops. The receivers are not doing their part and so RG3 is going to have to carry them to any remaining wins.

The mounting drops have been an issue creeping up on the team for weeks and was never more apparent than in the loss to the Steelers. Griffin did everything he could to win that game but the receivers' 10 drops sealed the loss.

With all that said Griffin has been making some errant throws in the short game. Pass attempts under seven yards need to be high-percentage throws, especially on checkdown routes. Too often this past week Griffin was seen airing a pass over a checkdown receiver.

Now sometimes this is due to pressure or throwing from an awkward angle, but that is likely the way things will stay and Griffin needs to adapt. The pocket protection is not going to improve and so Griffin will need to succeed despite his circumstances.

The short-range passes will be a tool the Shanahans rely on to develop confidence in Griffin and his receivers. Just as in the early weeks, Griffin will be asked to make some quick, easy throws early in games. For this game plan to succeed, Griffin’s short-range accuracy must improve because the drops are not likely to disappear.

These receivers will continue to drop some passes, especially on less than perfect throws. Therefore, must step up his short-range accuracy to give the receivers no excuse but to make a play.

There is very little to blame on Griffin in these six losses. Short of him playing both sides of the ball or running routes (which was tried in the Steelers game), Griffin is doing the right things. However, he still has room to improve, and pocket presence and short-range accuracy are on that list.

With some help from the defense and receivers stepping up to their roles, this ship will right its course. The Redskins are better than 3-6, and Griffin is better than his own stats show. Proper game-planning and devotion to a few isolated issues will allow Griffin and thereby the Redskins as a whole to improve for the stretch run.