Here are some observations from Saturday’s practice on Fan Appreciation Day at Redskins Park:
QB Robert Griffin III should significantly upgrade the Redskins’ offense in the red zone. Washington scored a touchdown on only 41.18 percent of its possessions inside the 20-yard line last season. Only three teams were worse.
The dual threat Griffin presents defenses will be magnified inside the 20. Just look at what QB Cam Newton did for the Carolina Panthers last season. They went from dead last in red zone efficiency in 2010 to seventh (57.89 percent) in the NFL during Newton’s rookie season. Griffin doesn’t have Newton’s size, but he is a faster runner. The Redskins can run the option with various fakes and misdirection involved, and they’ll take advantage of Griffin’s arm, as well.
During team drills inside the 20 on Saturday, Griffin took the snap, raced to the edge and got around the corner of the defense for a touchdown. Griffin’s quick feet enabled him to navigate the sideline and stay in bounds. Defenses must respect his ability to run and throw, which should enable the Redskins to take advantage of certain looks. Later during red zone work, Griffin hit WR Santana Moss over the middle from the left slot for a touchdown.
Moss let LT Trent Williams throw the ball in the stands instead of carrying on the receivers’ new trend himself.
I thought Griffin was more accurate Saturday than he recently has been, and, generally, he got the ball out quicker and more in rhythm. One pass in particular worth describing: From the pocket, he looked left to WR Pierre Garcon, who was covered high and low by two defensive backs. Griffin quickly came off that read and progressed to WR Leonard Hankerson underneath for a completion. Griffin knew his progressions and he went through them on time to create a positive play.
On Friday, I noted WR Leonard Hankerson‘s sure hands on catches near the sideline. Well, he dropped two passes over the middle Saturday. That was a problem area of the field for him last preseason. He had the bad habit of looking downfield before he caught the ball. That was the case Saturday.
In one-on-one drills between receivers and defensive backs, Hankerson ran a slant from the left preceded by a double move. He separated from the cornerback but dropped a pass that hit his hands. The same thing happened in team drills. Hankerson said last summer his drops were a matter of concentration.
WR Brandon Banks continues to be quick in and out of his breaks and consistently separate from defenders. Whether it was one-on-one drills against defensive backs or an out route against CB Brandyn Thompson during team drills, Banks is difficult to cover because he is shifty.
He’ll be one of the main players to watch against Buffalo on Thursday night. How well does Banks block? How does he hold up against contact, especially over the middle?