ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Robert Griffin III was determined to seize the moment in his preseason debut. And just like he has so many times in other uniforms, that’s what he did Thursday night in his first game for the Washington Redskins.
The new franchise quarterback completed 4 of 6 passes for 70 yards and a touchdown in 14 snaps against the Buffalo Bills in a 7-6 win. Griffin’s passer rating of 145.8 over three possessions quantified a successful outing in which he comfortably ran the offense and threw on time.
“I thought he did an excellent job,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “He managed the game well, bounced in and out of the huddle, formations, reads, progressions.”
Griffin’s preseason debut, as highly anticipated as it was, was never going to provide a clear glimpse of his potential in Shanahan’s offense. The option runs and fakes Griffin has spent much of training camp practicing won’t be unveiled until the regular season.
But Griffin threw accurately and on time against the Bills. That qualifies as an improvement on some of his inconsistencies during training camp.
“You come out to the game, and you can see all the reads a lot clearer just because you’re not going against [our] defense every single day,” he said. “The holes were a lot bigger, I felt like I was able to read things a lot cleaner and get the ball out of my hands.”
“He did a great job,” Garcon said. “We completed passes. A lot of safe throws, a lot of good throws, and we made the most of everything we had.”
Griffin started slowly as the Redskins emphasized the run with little success. And on third-and-8 on the opening drive, an official ruled Garcon was out of bounds after catching an out route beyond the yard-to-gain.
Griffin’s first completion occurred on the second series. Receiver Leonard Hankerson turned a quick out into a 12-yard gain with an elusive run after the catch.
But running back Evan Royster failed to secure a handoff on the next play, and Buffalo recovered the fumble.
“I just felt the ball hit my bottom hand, and I tried to pull it up, and it just rolled out,” Royster said.
Washington’s offense came out throwing on the third series. Tight end Niles Paul dropped Griffin’s pass on first down. But Griffin, with time in the pocket on second-and-10, coolly found Garcon open over the middle for 20 yards.
“In the NFL, from what I’ve heard, you don’t get very many opportunities to get to your last read, so that felt good,” Griffin said. “Coach was happy. He told me good job after that play.”
Two plays later, Griffin and Garcon hooked up for an 18-yard reception over the middle. Garcon cut off his route as both safeties defended the deep ball. Griffin anticipated Garcon’s stop and delivered a pass on time — an indication of his chemistry with Garcon and knowledge of receivers’ options in the Redskins‘ offense.
“He did everything you asked him to do,” Shanahan said. “Made some plays, good throws, very calm, cool, and collected for his first game.”