- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed wants his name on the short list by the time night falls Sunday.

It consists of only four. Cortland Finnegan, Antoine Winfield, Stevie Brown and Charlie Peprah are the only players who have intercepted Robert Griffin III through 12 games of Griffin’s rookie season. The Washington Redskins‘ quarterback is protecting the football at a record-setting level.

For all of his electrifying physical talents, that might be his greatest contribution to the offense. A year after Redskins quarterbacks threw 24 interceptions, Griffin is positioning his team to score more points because he is not giving the ball away.

“He’s pretty precise on when he’s getting rid of the ball, and he seems to have guys open,” Reed said Wednesday. “That’s the key to it, really.”

Griffin is rewriting the rookie-quarterback record book as the Redskins enter the final quarter of the season. He set the season rushing record (714 yards) in Monday night’s win over New York, and many more are possible.

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III has just four interceptions in 325 attempts, a 1.23 percentage. The record for rookies is 1.98, set by Charlie Batch with Detroit in 1998. Griffin also has thrown for 17 touchdowns. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III has just four interceptions in 325 attempts, ... more >

Interception percentage is one of those. He has four interceptions on 325 attempts; a 1.23 percentage. That’s way ahead of the current rookie record of 1.98 percent set by Charlie Batch with Detroit in 1998.

And in this Year of the Rookie Quarterback, Griffin is way ahead of his draft classmates. Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck has 16 interceptions and the same number of touchdown passes, 17, as Griffin. Seattle’s Russell Wilson has thrown eight picks along with 19 touchdowns.

Griffin’s ability to protect the ball also goes beyond the scope of rookies. Only two other quarterbacks in the league this season have at least 200 attempts and four or fewer interceptions: Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger, each of whom has Super Bowl jewelry to spare.

Griffin believes his low interceptions total is the product of sharp decision making.

“I just don’t force things,” he said. “Trust the system that you’re within so that you can go out and work through the system. And then if something does happen to where you can use your God-given abilities, then you can, rather than going into it thinking, ‘All right, I’m just going to run every single play.’”

It’s something he has always done. Griffin’s ability to protect the ball isn’t a surprise considering how he did so at Baylor. He threw an interception on only 2.13 percent of his 800 collegiate attempts.

“One of the reasons he didn’t throw a lot of interceptions in college is because he had a great feel,” coach Mike Shanahan said.

That means understanding timing and what throws he can get away with.

Think back to his 59-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon against Dallas on Thanksgiving. The throw over the middle barely avoided Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter’s fingertips.

“I think he’s got the arm strength when he does see a hole, he can get that ball in there very quickly,” Shanahan said. “It doesn’t have to be a big hole because that ball is going to get there usually quicker than most.”

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