Film Breakdown: RG3's Missed Opportunities vs. Broncos in Denver
Despite not getting any preseason action following offseason knee surgery, Griffin has played seven regular season games and hasn't yet convinced the masses that he can be a pass-first quarterback.
In Sunday's loss, Griffin struggled reading the Broncos defense and his decision making was suspect.
Here we'll look at two plays from the first half that raise questions about Griffin's awareness, decisiveness and confidence.
On 2nd-and-8 with just over 14 minutes to go in the second quarter, the Redskins line up with Alfred Morris behind Robert Griffin III, and tight end Logan Paulsen is brought in to pass protect.
Tight end Jordan Reed is just outside of the left tackle with his hand in the dirt. Receivers Pierre Garcon and Leonard Hankerson are lined to the right.
Garcon is going to head vertically down the sideline, Hankerson is going to jab hard on a hitch and then make his way toward the sideline and Reed is going to come across the middle (his route line was shortened for the purpose of image size).
The offensive line does a decent job for Griffin on this play, giving him a pocket to work with while the receivers work their routes.
Almost immediately you see the space for Jordan Reed begin to open. The safety is well behind Reed (perhaps protecting himself had Reed continued down the seam), and the linebacker has floated towards the line.
It’s obviously easier for us couch quarterbacks when looking back at the tape, but Griffin has room to climb here and throw to Reed even more open than what he already is.
Griffin also has the option to step up and attempt a more difficult (and dangerous) throw to Hankerson on the outside.
Paulsen holds off the defensive end well, pushing him up and outside, but with Griffin refusing to climb, he feels more of the rush than he needs to from behind. Reed remains very much open, but Griffin becomes antsy and leaves the pocket, only to take a hit and barely get off a near interception.
Just past the two-minute warning, the Redskins line up in one of their more clever looks of the day.
Both Roy Helu Jr. and Darrel Young are lined up in the backfield, with tight end Jordan Reed directly alongside the right tackle. Wide receiver Josh Morgan motions from the right and enters the backfield, bringing the defensive back (25) with him and into the box.
The Redskins run a triple-option look in which Young crashes down to the left of the line, Helu receives a play fake and Morgan appears to be coming as the third option around the back. But instead, Morgan turns and burns on a wheel route with plenty of space ahead of him, while the Denver linebackers attempt to regain their ground following a successful play fake by Griffin.
Meanwhile, Denver cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie appears confused, seemingly playing Garcon on a vertical route, and Garcon tears through the middle of the field and beyond any sort of safety help. The last line of defense for the Broncos is playing tight on Reed’s route when Garcon flies by.
Again, Griffin is flat in the pocket and refuses to climb. He also doesn’t notice two wide-open receivers in Morgan to the right, or Garcon who would’ve scored a touchdown, instead forcing a throw to Reed in the middle of the field and taking a hit in the process.
Despite this huge miss, the Redskins would eventually go on to score a touchdown before the half thanks to a bonehead penalty by the Broncos. But that doesn’t overshadow Griffin’s progression as a passer and quarterback.
There’s no doubt Griffin has the physical tools, desire and work ethic to become a top passing quarterback in this league. His development, however, will include some rough learning patches along the way, much like we saw from him on Sunday in Denver.
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