Should the Redskins Reinvent RG3 as a Pocket Passer?

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystJanuary 8, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 06:  Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins walks off of the field injured in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game at FedExField on January 6, 2013 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

As both the Washington Redskins and their fans anxiously await the results of quarterback Robert Griffin's trip to visit with Dr. James Andrews, both the future of the franchise and their star signal-caller is very much up in the air.

Nothing is certain until that visit and examination are complete, but reports by Brett McMurphy of ESPN and The Washington Post claim that Griffin suffered at least a partial tear of both his ACL and LCL in Sunday's playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

That places Griffin's availability for next season's opener very much in doubt, and at this point it appears that the Redskins will open the 2013 campaign with Kirk Cousins under center, most likely directing a more conventional offense that Cousins directs as a "pocket" quarterback.

That begs this question. Once Griffin returns, in order to protect both the long-term health of their franchise quarterback and their significant investment in him, should the Redskins keep that offense, ditch the "pistol" and transition Griffin into a more "standardized" NFL passer?

The short answer is absolutely not.

Yes, Robert Griffin's running style and propensity for injury have drawn comparisons to Michael Vick early in his career. Those comparisons have validity. Both players are/were incredibly athletic, and their propensity to run with no regard for their own safety cost them in the end.

When the Philadelphia Eagles acquired Vick in 2010, they were able to transform him into a much more pocket-oriented quarterback than he was with the Atlanta Falcons. The team had a great deal of success with it too, at least for one season.

Then the Philadelphia line fell apart, Vick's penchant for turning the ball over reared its ugly head again and everything went to pieces.

However, there's an important distinction between Griffin and Vick. The pistol.

Vick's scrambling was much more improvisational than by design. The play broke down (or Vick thought it had) and he just took off.

Many of Griffin's runs, on the other hand, are by design as either the primary or secondary read in the pistol. Depending on the flow of the play and the defense, Griffin either keeps the ball or pitches it to tailback Alfred Morris.

The team was wildly successful running that offense in 2012, leading the National Football League in rushing at over 169 yards a game, and it was the pistol that in turn set up play fakes that led to many of Griffin's long touchdown strikes through the air this season.

You don't fix what isn't broken, and it wasn't the pistol offense that got Griffin's knee injured or gave him a concussion against the Atlanta Falcons in October.

What got Robert Griffin hurt was Robert Griffin.

While's he rehabbing, and once he's returned to practice, the single most important thing that the Washington Redskins can do for the future of their team is drill it into Robert Griffin's head that discretion is the better part of valor.

Hurtling yourself through the air may be brave, but the line between bravery and stupidity can get pretty blurry, especially if you have a concussion.

If it's 3rd-and-6 and five is all you can get before sliding? Punt.

If it's 3rd-and-goal and you're going to come up short? Bring on the field-goal team.

Unless it's the Super Bowl, pulling a human helicopter act does your team more harm than good, and that's what they have to get through to Griffin.

Have him watch film of the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson, a fellow rookie. Wilson and the Seahawks had just as much success as a team this year as the Redskins, and Wilson has managed to stay in one piece.

That's because Wilson knows when to get down or out of bounds. He knows to avoid unnecessary contact.

Wilson plays smart, like Griffin needs to.

It's possible that Robert Griffin won't be able to curb that desire to try to get that last yard, that his competitive fire rages so hot that he just can't bring himself to pull up short.

If that's the case then the Redskins are in trouble, but they shouldn't try to change Griffin for fear of that possibility.

Because while an injured quarterback isn't of much use to them, tying one leg behind Griffin's back isn't any better.