More importantly, though, Griffin’s health depends so much more on his decision-making on passing plays than who carries the ball on running plays. Never lose sight of the fact his three major injuries last season occurred while scrambling on pass plays.
On the play Griffin was concussed against Atlanta in Week 5, Griffin decided not to throw to Joshua Morgan, who was open in the end zone running to the post and calling for the ball. Griffin rolled out after being pressured from his right. He slipped trying to cut upfield near the sideline instead of getting out of bounds, and his head absorbed a linebacker’s hit.
Griffin could have thrown to Morgan. He could have thrown the ball away or run out of bounds. Instead, instincts, indecisiveness and inexperience carried him into danger.
Coaches expect those factors to diminish in Year 2 because of his increased quarterbacking knowledge and a renewed desire to hone his playmaking instincts in order to stay healthy.
Said quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur: “He’ll recognize, ‘Hey, we have zone coverage. I’m going to try to stay a passer or throw the ball away. Hey, I’ve got man coverage. I can take off and run.’ He’ll recognize those situations a little bit better and hopefully stay out of harm’s way.”
He knows the coaching staff must ensure the running back picks up the free blitzer, which Evan Royster failed to do against Baltimore on the play on which Griffin scrambled and injured his lateral collateral ligament.
Convincing Griffin of the zone read’s benefits is the starting point.
Griffin would help himself by embracing them and the Shanahans’ expertise. And that should be easy for him because, given last season’s evidence, they don’t require a scientist to figure out.