Quarterback Robert Griffin III against Tampa Bay last Sunday hoped to reduce the amount of contact he absorbed. When he handed the ball off on zone-read runs or inside draws, he made it obvious he did not have the ball by holding his hands up for the defense and the officials to see.
It worked. The Buccaneers never hit Griffin after he handed off. In contrast, Cincinnati in the previous game hit him three times after handoffs when he didn’t have the ball.
“One time I carried out my fake and didn’t put my hands up, and [a referee] came and found me and said, ‘Make sure you put your hands up.’ I said, ‘All right, you got it. I got you. You’re watching. That’s good.’ I thought it was great. They protected me a lot more as the quarterback out there, which is how it’s supposed to be.”
Overall, Griffin went to ground with contact only 10 times against Tampa Bay, as opposed to 28 against Cincinnati. Four times occurred on passing plays, four on designed runs and twice on scrambles.
“If he is a competitive guy, he is going to compete as hard as he can,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “But we also shared with him how important it is for him to stay healthy. If you don’t show your hands or you don’t do it quick enough, you’re going to take some shots that you don’t have to take.
“He’s going to learn every game. There is going to be different things that happen that is going to be a learning experience for him. I think that’s one of those things that he learned in that game. That when defensive ends are coming at you about 280 pounds and runs a 4.5 40-[yard dash], take your hands and show them you don’t have the ball because if not, he is going to take a shot at you.”
Shanahan said he alerted officials before the Tampa Bay game to watch for unnecessary or late hits against Griffin. Redskins coaches also emphasized to Griffin the importance of sliding to avoid contact. Griffin did not apply that lesson on a first-quarter quarterback draw inside the 10-yard line, and it nearly cost the Redskins a touchdown.
On third-and-5 from Tampa Bay’s 9-yard line, Griffin got the first down. But instead of sliding to set up first-and-goal, he stayed upright with the end zone only feet away. Safety Mark Barron drilled him and jarred the ball loose. Fortunately for the Redskins, receiver Pierre Garcon was there to recover the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.
“You’d love for him to slide, and we definitely tell him to slide,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said “Afterwards he thinks he should have slid, but a lot of times your competitive instinct takes over. And he sees that goal line. You don’t see many people slide right on the 1.
“It’s tough. You want him to. You have a new set of downs and we’ll get three, possibly four tries to try it again. He went for it, and he has to protect that ball better when he does. Definitely should have slid and lived to play another down.”