Robert Griffin III was bound to receive much of the blame as the quarterback of a Washington Redskins team that was down 24-0 at halftime and that ultimately lost 38-20 to the Green Bay Packers in Week 2, but he didn't deserve most of it.
An atrocious offensive line showing, an even more ghastly performance from the secondary—which forced Mike Shanahan's team to abandon what looked to be a clicking running game—and simply playing Aaron Rodgers at home were much more integral to the Redskins' loss than RG3.
The blowout loss was a prime example of how interconnected the game of football is, especially in the NFL.
Starting up front, Washington's offensive line was bombarded with an assortment of blitz packages from Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers and simply couldn't protect Griffin III.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), the Packers blitzed on 23 of 44 of RG3's dropbacks (53 percent).
Maybe the Redskins line was simply not ready for, or accustomed to facing, such a high frequency of added pressure. Last year, Washington faced only 112 blitzes on RG3's 466 dropbacks, per PFF, which equated to 24 percent.
In the first quarter, Green Bay's two blitzes got home and led to a pair of hurried throws and incompletions.
The initial blitz in the second quarter resulted in a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage.
The second produced a sack.
The third led to another incompletion.
No, the lack of success against the blitz shouldn't totally be on the offensive line, but Griffin III was placed in unfavorable situations when Green Bay got aggressive with its application of pressure in the first half.
More importantly, when the Redskins offense took the field in the second quarter, the team was down 17-0. Talk about an unfavorable situation to be in on the road.
Suddenly, the Redskins had to alter their game plan to go into a "desperation mode" of sorts, as their defense showed no signs of being able to stop Mike McCarthy's offense.
The porous defensive effort was especially unfortunate for Alfred Morris, a guy who has a tremendous impact on RG3. Though his first four carries yielded only eight yards, his next three attempts—all in the second quarter—went for 45 yards. Here's a look at what Morris did as a rookie for Washington's offense:
|Carries||Yards||YPC||Yards/Carry After Contact (Rank)||Elusiveness Rating (Rank)||First Downs (Rank)|
|335||1,618||4.8||2.99 (8)||51.0 (11)||83 (2)|
ProFootballFocus and ESPN
While it's impossible to precisely measure how much Morris aided RG3 a season ago, the running back's statistics show that the quarterback didn't do it all by himself. When Morris is taken out of the game, either by a stingy run defense or by a large deficit, Griffin III will struggle.
Sure, he doesn't appear to be as light on his feet as he was in his Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign, and Washington isn't calling designed runs for him anymore, but there's only so much RG3 can do on his own.
Even if the offensive line provides perfect protection and Morris runs the football well, Washington will have an extremely difficult time climbing out of the hole it has found itself in after two games in 2013 if the defense doesn't improve.
Take a look at the Redskins' combined defensive performance thus far:
|Rushing Yards Allowed||YPC Allowed||Passing Yards Allowed||Completion % Allowed||Points Allowed|
In fairness, playing the up-tempo Philadelphia Eagles and Rodgers—arguably the best quarterback in football—in consecutive weeks could make many defenses look really bad.
Last year, Griffin III was Superman for the Redskins with his arm and his legs. This was his average stat line down the stretch when Washington reeled off six straight victories en route to the NFC East crown:
|Completion %||Passing Yards||Rushing Yards||Total TDs|
Should the Redskins expect that level of efficiency and production from RG3 this season? After last year, it won't be easy to settle for less. But we need to realize that superhuman performances from one player—albeit the most important player—aren't sustainable and wouldn't alone correlate to victories with so many other flaws on the team.
Robert Griffin III wasn't tremendous against the Green Bay Packers in Week 2. Not at all. However, the team around him, especially the defense, was much worse.