Robert Griffin III Must Improve Passing to Continue NFL Success

Dhiren Mahiban@@dcmahibanFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2013

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 27:  Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins reacts after being hit by defensive tackle Terrance Knighton #94 of the Denver Broncos during a game at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on October 27, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos beat the Redskins 45-21.  (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

If Robert Griffin III is going to have success at the NFL level, he's going to have to work at improving his passing game.

He's running significantly less this season, and at the same time, his passing has regressed. Ideally, with his knees not doing him any favors, Griffin would evolve into more of a passing quarterback, but that hasn't happened.

In order for the Washington Redskins to climb out of the 2-5 hole they're currently in, Griffin is going to have to adjust quickly. He has to get his passing game on track to where it was last season by making smarter throws and getting the ball out more quickly.

It would help if he got a little support from his offensive line as well.

Washington's offensive line has allowed 48 QB hits this season, which is tied for seventh most in the NFL.

As a result, Griffin should focus less on the deep ball right now.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, Griffin was 0-of-7 on throws at least 15 yards down field against the Denver Broncos in Week 8. During the 2012 season, he completed 56 percent of those passes. This season he's down to 33 percent in that yard range.

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 27:  Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins looks to avoid a tackle by Denver Broncos defensive players as he is hit by outside linebacker Danny Trevathan #59 of the Denver Broncos during a game at Sports Author
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

RGIII should take advantage of short-yardage routes to regain the confidence he had in his arm during the 2012 season before he starts airing out the deep ball, especially behind a suspect O-line.

We all know Griffin was an excellent runner last season, rushing for 815 yards and seven rushing touchdowns, and part of the reason for his passing success was because defenses had to account for his mobility.

But in general, the Redskins star was much more efficient in passing last year. The then-rookie threw for 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions, while completing 65.6 percent of his passes. This year, he has already thrown eight interceptions, and his QB rating is 79.2, down from 102.4 a year ago.

His inability with his arm this season saw him drop to a career-low 45.4 passer rating in the 45-21 Week 8 loss to the Broncos. He passed for a season-low 132 yards and one touchdown while completing just half of his 30 passes.

Griffin's completion rate has dropped from fourth best in the NFL last season to 59 percent this year.

On Monday night, Griffin tweeted:

Following the game, WJFK-FM's Grant Paulsen tweeted comments from wide receiver Pierre Garcon voicing his displeasure with the lack of passing in Washington's offense:

Mike Shanahan, who took his fair share of criticism last season for the handling of Griffin's knee injury, rushed to his QB's defense Monday, telling the Washington Post:

I think it's a little bit of everything. You take a look at sometimes it may be a quarterback's read. Another time it may be protection. Next time it might be a dropped ball. The offense just may be a little bit different than it was a year ago, a combination of all those things.

With Kirk Cousins' only reps this season coming in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss, it appears that the Redskins are willing to hang their season on RGIII, which means Griffin is going to have to find his arm before it's too late.

If he can stop worrying about making the big plays and instead focus on consistently making productive plays, Griffin can regain his confidence and continue to grow as a passer so he can live up to the enormous potential fans saw in him as a rookie.