TAMPA, Fla. — On an otherwise innocuous third down, Robert Griffin III slipped the football into running back Evan Royster’s arms and backed away. The rookie quarterback thrust his arms in the air as he stood alone on the chewed-up turf at Raymond James Stadium in an exaggerated gesture to remind any defenders in the neighborhood he didn’t have the football.
The “not me” arms became as familiar during the Washington Redskins' 24-22 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday as Griffin’s braids and easy grin. When Griffin neglected to lift his arms after handing off the football on a zone read play, one official reminded him not to make the same mistake.
“I said, ‘Yes, sir, I’ll do it next time,’” said Griffin, who finished with 323 yards passing and another 43 on the ground. “I did it next time.”
Battered and bashed in the season’s first three games, Griffin showed he can operate the Redskins‘ offense without absorbing a dizzying succession of hits. The Buccaneers knocked down Griffin 10 times, but he avoided the string of cringe-inducing hits that stalked his first three weeks in the NFL’s regular season.
Last week, the Cincinnati Bengals put Griffin on the ground 28 times, including a handful of savage hits that left the quarterback slow to pull himself up. Thanks in part to the Redskins‘ option-heavy offense, opponents contacted Griffin to the ground 53 times in those first three games. In exchange for the quarterback’s discomfort, the Redskins got 91 points.
That toughness also puts quarterbacks in position to crack ribs or sustain a concussion. After one of last week’s licks, Griffin underwent a concussion test that was negative but hinted at the risk his scampers present.
A simple formula protected Griffin’s 217 pounds Sunday. Since the Redskins jumped to an early advantage against the NFL’s worst pass defense, they didn’t need to rely on option plays. That kept with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s pledge not to “major” in the option. Even with tackle Trent Williams hobbled by a bone bruise on his right knee, protected by a bulky brace, the inconsistent offensive line provided Griffin ample time in the pocket. And Griffin reciprocated with quick, accurate throws to complement fellow rookie Alfred Morris‘ effective runs.
“I was thankful he didn’t take that many hits because I was pretty upset,” Morris said. “I don’t like seeing my quarterback on the ground.”
The option kept Griffin upright and exposed him to the unusual level of punishment. It also helped the Redskins keep pace in three shootouts. But with three early touchdowns Sunday, the Redskins used the option just once in the first half. Even the triple-threat backfield of Griffin, Morris and receiver Brandon Banks that befuddled the Bengals didn’t appear until the second half.
Of Griffin’s four first-half knock-downs, two followed passes, another came after safety Mark Barron crunched him an 8-yard designed run to force a fumble a yard short of the goalline. Receiver Pierre Garcon corralled the ball for a touchdown.
“He’s growing in the offense,” Williams said. “I’m always in his ear about those hits, man. … It definitely feels better to see him not go through so much.”
“It’s illegal,” Griffin said as he smiled. “That’s not my fault.”View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
By John Solomon
How the government's punishing of the exposure of official wrongdoing can linger for years
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up.
Are there profound differences between the Left and the Right? You betcha.
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
A carefully guided tour through the confusing world of modern bookselling and publishing.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention