Creating a Recipe to Shut Down Redskins QB Robert Griffin III
Photo courtesy of: John Lamparski (Getty Images)
I'm not a very good cook. In fact, I barely cook at all because my wife is so good at it. So, when I was asked to come up with a recipe to shut down Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, I froze like defenders do when he runs from the pocket on Sunday afternoons.
How does one stop RGIII?
I'll give it my best, but like my cooking, there's no guarantee of a positive result.
Ingredient No. 1: Film Study
Griffin's body language is something defenders focus on. (Google Images)
With nine games under his belt, RGIII is not the clean slate that he was when he began his inaugural campaign. Therefore, my first ingredient to stop him would be to watch him.
When the season began, coaches and defenders didn't know what to make of RGIII. They had some film of him from his outstanding college career, but the NFL is "not the Big 12," according to St. Louis running back Steven Jackson. Jackson actually said that in response to Griffin, who accused the Rams of playing "dirty" in Week 2.
There was also the question of what style of offense would be built around RGIII. Now that we know, it's easier to concentrate on the formations he starts out in and the roll outs, bootlegs and option plays that come from them.
Most importantly, I would seek to learn his tendencies and his tells, like a good card player would do at a poker table.
How does he react to pressure? What are his progressions like? Does he stare down his primary target? And does he favor one pass-catcher over others?
All of these questions and more can be answered by watching hours upon hours of film, in hopes of gaining an edge on game day.
Ingredient No. 2: Speed Defenders
Griffin becomes fair game when he leaves the pocket. (Evan Vucci/AP)
A super fast fleet of defenders would be another ingredient I would use to limit RGIII.
The best way to slow down a mobile quarterback is to defend against him with men who can chase him down. Quickness is also necessary to shut down running and passing lanes. The sooner they close, the lesser chance a guy like Griffin has to take advantage of them.
According to RotoWorld, ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski reviewed Eagles' game film and counted 134 knockdowns of Vick this season. That averages out to an astronomical 16.75 per game. It also serves as a red flag for Griffin, who's still learning to speed through his progressions.
As RotoWorld points out, "there's a correlation between sacks and how long a quarterback -- especially a mobile QB -- takes to throw the ball."
Griffin's 3.01 is fourth worst in the NFL. Therefore, it's imperative that he works on the problem or he'll end up on his back more times than not.
Ingredient No. 3: Collapse the Pocket
Pittsburgh kept contain on Griffin and forced him to think fast. (US Presswire)
Washington's zone-blocking scheme thrives on stretch plays that turn into one-cut nightmares for opposing defenses. But, the Redskins love to get Griffin out on the edge as well, so he can decide to run or distribute the ball.
In this case, the best way to defend RGIII would be to contain him on the ends and bull rush him with A-gap pressure (like the Saints did against Michael Vick). This part of my recipe would include a relentless set of defensive ends and a blitzing linebacker up the gut.
At Baylor, Griffin was the conductor of various option plays that relied on his decision-making skills. That exact script has been on display with the Redskins, but teams are beginning to catch on.
That strategy shuts down Griffin's short-area burst and speeds up his decision-making process.
Ingredient No. 4: Create Confusion
Chicago's defense has created fear and confusion in 2012. (Getty Images)
In a recent column, fellow Bleacher Report writer Brian Filler pointed out that RGIII has "struggled to feel pressure in the pocket." That can certainly be attributed to a poor offensive line and a constant collapse of the pocket. But it all starts with confusion. The more that is created, the better off defenses are against a rookie who has too much to process.
No team, right now, creates as much confusion as Houston. Led by defensive coaching genius Wade Phillips, the Texans have a host of young athletes that seem to come at quarterbacks from all angles. But Phillips does a masterful job of disguising coverage, with an array of formations that fool opposing field generals.
As Filler points out in his column, RGIII is still learning to read defenses, and it's imperative that he "speeds up his mental countdown" to be successful.
Ingredient No. 5: Lockdown Corners
Rams corner Cortland Finnegan made life miserable for RGIII. (US Presswire)
The final ingredient in my recipe is a pair of lockdown corners. It's hard enough to find one, but in the ideal situation, I would employ two against RGIII.
Griffin's greatest strength is his cannon arm. So, to defend it, opponents must shorten the field.
I would tell my corners to provide blanket coverage on the outside, so Griffin would be forced to check down to his backs and tight ends.
In response, the Shanahans would likely revert to play-action passes, but I'll take my chances with a pair of stars on both islands.
In 2012, defenses have used this strategy to limit Cam Newton's effectiveness. But, it's not always full-proof against the Carolina star, who like Griffin, is a pocket passer with wheels.
Final Thoughts on My Recipe
Against the Vikes, Griffin had the last laugh. (US Presswire)
From food and beverages in the film room to coaching calls on the gridiron, it would take a lot to stifle RGIII. It's also an assignment that I wouldn't want on a regular basis.
I say that because Griffin is not your average everyday quarterback. He has a "first man to work and last man to leave" attitude. He's smarter than the majority of his peers. And he has the type of world class speed and ability that most athletes can only dream of.
As NBC Football anchor Dan Patrick used to say during his days at ESPN:
"You can't stop him. You can only hope to contain him."
That alone would be sufficient for me.
Joe Versage is an NFL Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He previously covered the Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens as a television beat reporter. Follow him on Twitter at: @JoeVersage Takip et: @JoeVersage