Has the Real RGIII Finally Returned to the Washington Redskins?

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 22:  Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins scrambles with the ball as he avoids the tackle of Ezekiel Ansah #94 of the Detroit Lions in the first half during a game at FedExField on September 22, 2013 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

He may have been on the losing end for a third week in a row, but Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III finally looked more like himself.

Griffin could not prevent the Detroit Lions leaving Washington with a 27-20 win. But he did at least offer more evidence that he is shedding the rust caused by missing the entire offseason healing after major knee surgery.

Griffin threw for 326 yards, and although the Redskins don't want him attempting 50 passes every week, Griffin was more accurate and decisive in and out of the pocket.

He also offered a timely reminder that his lengthy recovery did nothing to diminish his eye-popping arm strength. Griffin's 57-yard heave to Aldrick Robinson may have been too much for his receiver to handle, but it was the kind of rocket-flighted deep ball that exposed defenses several times last season.

But perhaps the most encouraging sight of all was Griffin finally showcasing the mobility skills that tormented the NFL in 2012. He finished with 37 yards on the ground, averaging 6.2 yards per rush.

Those are respectable numbers, but the real promise came from how Griffin moved out of the pocket and threw on the run. The Redskins created a moving pocket on numerous occasions because Griffin was properly mobile for the first time this season.

Griffin was more confident on the run than in the first two games.
Griffin was more confident on the run than in the first two games.Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Bootleg plays caused hesitation in the Detroit defense and got Griffin out in space. That is where he is at his best.

The roving pocket also allowed the play-action passing game to flourish. That is the staple of head coach Mike Shanahan's aerial offense.

No quarterback in football works the play fake as well as Griffin. He routinely used it to create free receivers and big gains through the air against the Lions.

If all of this looked familiar, it is because it's exactly the way Griffin was lighting up scoreboards as a rookie sensation last season.

The fact that the Redskins only managed 20 points means it is still too early to say the "real" or "rust free" RG3 is back just yet.

Because for everything good he did, there was just enough bad to undermine Griffin's best efforts. It was as if Washington's franchise quarterback tried to turn the clock back to 2012 but only made it three quarters of the way.

That final quarter proved costly. Griffin was guilty of a pair of easily avoidable turnovers, and his overall decision making was dubious.

Griffin did not always make smart decisions under pressure.
Griffin did not always make smart decisions under pressure.Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

His interception, snared by Lions corner Chris Houston, came from a pass that should have been heaved into the stands. In fact, it was just one of a number of occasions when Griffin would have been better served throwing the ball away.

Instead, perhaps motivated by his zeal to turn around a losing team, he made a reckless decision. Efficiency was the hallmark of the offense in 2012, and nobody was as careful with the ball as Griffin.

So what Week 3's performance really represents is another signpost on Griffin's road back to his best. The physical improvements were obvious.

The arm strength is steadily returning, along with the mobility. The next step is to regain the measured temperament that was equally a part of the RG3 who wowed the league in 2012.