Robert Griffin III's Passing Ability Being Sorely Ignored Heading into 2013
When Robert Griffin III steps onto the field for Monday Night Football against the Philadelphia Eagles, he will be the final second-year quarterback to make his regular-season debut. With the offseason spotlight shining squarely on Griffin and his twice-repaired right knee, many wonder if he'll be the same freakish athlete he was last season.
Those wondering the most are overly concerned with Griffin's legs, when they should be worried about his arm and how much he's improved as a passer.
The appeal of RGIII, beyond his mega-watt smile and easy manner, is his dynamic playmaking ability. Though not gifted with Michael Vick-like field vision on the run, Griffin can make plays with his legs and is especially good at extending plays while keeping his eyes downfield for open receivers.
Griffin is not a running quarterback, but rather a quarterback with frightening speed who is a threat to run, or a quarterback who can run but really doesn't have to.
Last season, Griffin recorded the second-highest completion percentage for a rookie, connecting on 65.6 percent of his passes, behind only Ben Roethlisberger's 66.4, which he recorded in 2004.
While at Baylor, Griffin threw 37 touchdowns and rushed for another 10 while completing 72.4 percent of his passes as a senior, somehow improving on the 67 percent he completed as a junior.
Spread offenses often lead to big numbers for quarterbacks, but it still requires a commanding presence at quarterback, particularly when you consider that Baylor's offense didn't have a playbook.
No playbook means no concrete pictures or concepts of timing and where a ball should be placed. It requires instincts and trust in your teammates, which Griffin seems to have translated to the NFL.
You would think not having a set playbook would hinder Griffin at the next level, but Mike and Kyle Shanahan have used it as a platform to create an offense where Griffin once again has options as opposed to standard progressions through targets on the field.
Griffin has shown the ability to read defenses, which is often said to be a huge weakness for spread offense quarterbacks, so he's got a leg up in that regard. And in case you didn't know, Griffin has a cannon for an arm.
Think about that for a second. He can make plays on the move, work out of pretty much any offensive set, hit any receiver in stride, in tight coverage, over the shoulder or down the sideline, and he can heave it a mile.
Based on the available evidence, Griffin's ability to throw the ball, not his ability to run, has always been his greatest strength, which has been overlooked since he entered the NFL last year.
If you look at the Redskins offense last season, it was balanced but favored the run game, with Alfred Morris churning out 1,613 yards to go with Griffin's 815. But the Redskins only averaged 213.9 passing yards per game, which was 20th in the NFL in 2012.
It is almost as if Washington made a point of limiting Griffin's pass attempts or giving him more of the dual-threat look.
Clearly they did something right, because all you hear about is how the knee injury will affect his mobility and if it will change how he plays the game.
No one is talking about the potential for RGIII to have a monster year through the air, and that just seems like a grave miscalculation given the skills Griffin has displayed in his young NFL career.
Whether it happens or not remains to be seen, but starting the season against the Eagles, who are sporting a new defensive scheme and a decidedly weak secondary, Griffin could put on a show under the bright lights.
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