How Robert Griffin III Can Improve as a Passer
He wasn't done any favors, as his receivers dropped a total of four passes and the offensive line far too often acted like a turnstile. The Broncos defense hit or sacked Griffin a combined 14 times according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Griffin can't place the blame on his teammates. He is the leader, and that means accepting responsibility for his faults in his effort to improve upon them.
His final stat line reads as follows: 15-of-30 passes completed, 132 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, and one fumble. Those stats resulted in a passer rating of 45.4, the lowest of Griffin's career. In addition, he had only five rushes for seven yards. By comparison, Griffin ran 20 times for 161 yards over the previous two contests.
So, what went wrong?
In short, everything. Griffin had his worst game as a professional last Sunday. He missed open receivers. He didn't see the field well. He held on to the ball too long. He forced throws into coverage.
Perhaps worst of all, he looked as though he was lacking the confidence to make a play.
The following are some examples detailing some of the mistakes Robert Griffin III made in Denver.
Early in the first quarter, Griffin was showing mechanical flaws that led to some errant passes. As Griffin dropped back, he eyed Jordan Reed in man coverage on the outside.
Pressure came from his left, but Griffin failed to properly follow through on his pass. He raised up on his toes instead of transferring his weight properly. The result was an overthrow leading to a punt.
While this next play led to a highlight catch for Pierre Garcon, if Griffin had displayed proper mechanics, Garcon could have most likely gained extra yards after the catch.
Here we see Griffin had dropped back and spotted Garcon out to his left. He also recognized the pressure coming from his left, forcing him to get the throw out quickly.
He never properly planted his back foot and did not square his shoulders or followed through with his throwing motion. Once again, the result was a high pass. Fortunately for Griffin, Garcon has what Griffin calls a large catch radius.
On this next play, Griffin locked on to Reed running a route over the middle. Had he read the field properly, he would have noticed both Garcon and Josh Morgan open on their routes.
Before the snap, the Redskins were in the pistol formation, with Darrel Young and Roy Helu in the backfield with Griffin.
This formation, along with Griffin's excellent play fake sucked in the linebackers.
Garcon's post route combined with Reed's in-and-out move over the middle put pressure on the safety. Instead of throwing to the streaking open Garcon, Griffin elected to force a tough throw over the middle to Reed.
In addition to Garcon being open, Josh Morgan was also open as he reversed his direction from his initial pre-snap motion.
This play was similar to one the Indianapolis Colts burned the Broncos with last week. It's very likely this play was installed based on the Colts success. Griffin should have been on the lookout for Morgan coming open in the flat.
In this final example, we see Griffin again forcing a throw over the middle. As the receivers entered their breaks, Griffin is locked onto Garcon running an in route over the middle, even though he is well covered.
If Griffin had progressed through his reads, he would have found Reed open to his left or Leonard Hankerson wide open up the field on his right. The result was a forced throw that was intercepted.
Robert Griffin III's talent and the Shanahan's innovative offense covered up many of these flaws last year. Now, with defenses more prepared for the read-option and Griffin's speed diminished, he must rely on his other tools to defeat defenses.
The excuse of missing the offseason can only last for so long. Griffin must prove that he can improve at the finer aspects of the quarterback position if he hopes to win another NFC East title.
The good news is that Griffin is extremely intelligent, a gifted athlete and one of the most driven human beings on this planet. Only more action on the field will determine whether he can take the next step in his career and win consistently from year to year.
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