“A couple of those times he’s laying as crooked as a question mark on the ground, and you’re like: He’s not moving,” guard Kory Lichtensteiger said. “You’re wondering what’s going on, and then he slowly peels himself back up.”
Griffin said he’s using that time to compose himself, but already this season he has had plenty of chances to do so while planted on the ground. Through three games, the rookie quarterback has been hit more times than the Redskins would like to count, and he conceded Sunday that “one is too many.” According to one count, he went to the ground 28 times in the 38-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, bringing the total to 54.
“But the one thing I won’t do personally is quit or play scared. I’ve never played scared in my life,” Griffin said. “It doesn’t matter how many times they hit me, I’m going to continue to get back up. Even if they have to cart me off the field, I’m going to get off that cart and walk away.”
Griffin plays as tough as he sounds, absorbing hits in and out of the pocket. Each time, he has been able to get up. And while the Redskins may not be judging the quantity of blows Griffin takes, it’s a problem coach Mike Shanahan and Co. are aware of.
“You don’t want a quarterback taking as many shots as he did [Sunday], that’s for sure,” Shanahan said.
A few teammates pointed out that the 22-year-old is young enough to be able to bounce back from hits, but that’s not something they want to use as a justification for the punishment Griffin is taking.
“Right now, he’s young and he can probably take a little more now,” tight end Fred Davis said. “But later on, it’s going to wear and tear on him.”
Running for his life
He’s on pace for 171 carries as part of the inventive zone-read scheme that takes advantage of Griffin’s mobility. That would be the most in franchise history since Cliff Battles’ 216 in 1937; Battles threw just 33 passes in a different era of football.
The Philadelphia Eagles’ Michael Vick, one of the most mobile quarterbacks today, has never had more than 123 carries in a season.
“I don’t know. This is our first time going through it, too. We’re kind of learning as we go also,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said last week. “Usually, when the defense covers everyone else, he has to be a threat and pull it away and go run with it. You hope you’re not calling too many plays where he’s running it versus every single look.”