Washington Redskins second-year quarterback Robert Griffin III has certainly struggled so far this season. The talented signal-caller has not been the same since undergoing reconstructive knee surgery on his ACL and LCL this past January.
Despite his ongoing recovery, he has started all five games this year for the 1-4 Redskins.
Not only have the explosiveness and burst lacked from his ability to run, he has not had the same efficiency as a passer.
Throughout his entire rookie campaign in 2012, Griffin threw 20 touchdowns to only five interceptions for a passer rating of 102.4. Through five games in 2013, he has already equaled his interceptions total from last season and his passer rating has dropped to 80.4.
Unfortunately, things do not seem to be getting better for the quarterback as the season moves along. That is rather evident when looking at his game log:
One big difference in Griffin's decrease in production has been his inability to run. After all, he is only less than nine months removed from surgery and still wears a bulky knee brace to show for it.
It is overly obvious that 2012's healthy Griffin makes this Washington team much more efficient and dynamic than anything that has been shown this season.
Last week, Griffin was able to begin to show glimpses of his old self against the Cowboys. He rushed nine times for 77 yards—26 of which came on a single attempt.
I felt that’s what I have to do. That’s what I’ve always had to do. You’ve got to use every ability that you have. Broke the pocket a couple of times, broke the pocket and hit some guys downfield as the defense was closing in on me, and then there were times when you just take off and go, and a healthy mix of that and a healthy mix of just executing the plays that are called.
That is all well and good. However, concerns arose when Griffin elaborated on his style of running in an interview with John Keim of ESPN.com on Wednesday:
There will be situations, and that's why guys don't want to pull up. It's happened in the past with Mike Vick or someone like that who has run to the sidelines, stopped and then gotten 20 more yards because the guy runs out of bounds trying not to hit the quarterback.
To expand on Griffin's comment, it appears as though he will be aiming to pull up and slow down when approaching the sidelines during a run. He knows that some defenders will avoid hitting a quarterback in that area to avoid a penalty. Griffin will be hoping to take advantage of that by staying in bounds and taking off for extra yardage.
Griffin also accepts the fact that sometimes he will be hit by defenders using this approach. He intends to draw flags—as he did on Cowboys safety Barry Church last week—in these situations.
Looking back on Griffin's history, is this actually a good idea?
Not in the slightest.
Theoretically, Griffin could certainly create some extra yardage for the struggling Redskins offense by slowing down when approaching the sidelines, but why take the chance?
If Griffin is looking for a competitive edge for the Redskins, it needs to be in other forms of creating yards and scoring points. That can be accomplished by establishing two priorities. Adjusting offensive schemes, packages and formations should be the second priority.
The first one? Griffin's health.
Taking unnecessary shots from defenders simply cannot be justified.
The competitive drive and determination that Griffin has shown under his current circumstances are nothing short of impressive. However, he needs to look at his situation, as well as the longevity of his NFL career.
With his knee in this weakened state, any hit that Griffin takes is enough to make an onlooker shudder. We have seen young, promising athletes' careers ended abruptly due to injury—no one wants to see Griffin become a statistic.
His comments to the media should not be taken lightly by the Redskins' coaching staff and Griffin's teammates. Each and every member of the organization has a vested interest in the quarterback's wellbeing.
They must realize that Griffin may have just painted a bull's-eye on his back.
Robert Griffin III says he doesn't want anyone else trying to tell him how to play the game http://t.co/zGZjmHJR0V— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) October 16, 2013
It should also be concerning that Griffin has already attempted to draw a penalty in this manner this season. During his Week 3 contest against the Detroit Lions, Griffin explained that he targeted cornerback Rashean Mathis:
He's a smart player; he didn't hit me. I kind of stopped well inside in bounds to try to get him to hit me and he didn't. He said, "I'm not taking that penalty, Griff." I said, "I got you, man."
If Washington is going to dig itself out of a deep hole and make a playoff run this year, it has to be with a healthy Griffin at the helm.
With the Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles currently leading the NFC East with 3-3 records, the division is still very much up for grabs.
|New York Giants||0||6||.000||L6|
Through Week 6
The Redskins are on the verge of a tough Week 7 matchup against a very hard-hitting Chicago Bears defense. Keeping Griffin out of unnecessary dangerous situations must be a focal point for the team. After all, Griffin is still planing to throw caution to the wind
"The sideline is your friend and you can get out of bounds, but a lot of defensive players, they just really don't care. Sometimes they're going to still get that hit on you," Griffin told Keim.
Avoiding those hits in every way possible is how Griffin can best give Washington the chance to get things back on track this season.