- The Washington Times - Monday, August 20, 2012

Lessons come in many forms for a quarterback experiencing the NFL for the first time. Robert Griffin III’s teachers on Saturday night were the Chicago Bears’ fierce defensive line and capable secondary.

Griffin struggled some with decision-making and throwing mechanics during 26 plays in the Redskins’ 33-31 preseason loss to Chicago. After a strong debut against Buffalo nine days earlier, Washington’s new franchise quarterback made enough mistakes against Chicago to fill coaches’ lesson plans for the upcoming week.

“I think a lot of good came from this game,” Griffin said after the Redskins’ offense managed only three points while he was in. “We didn’t play bad. We didn’t play good. It was somewhere in between, and it’s something we can definitely learn from on film.”

Griffin’s passing statistics were pedestrian: 5 of 8 for 49 yards; a 79.4 passer rating, compared to his 154.1 mark against Buffalo.

But he also was sacked three times and lost a fumble.

He converted separate third downs with his arm and legs, but what he did poorly will produce greater benefits in the long term.

“Those are the types of experiences … that he will get better at in time,” coach Mike Shanahan said.

Griffin likes to say he’s his harshest critic, which explains all the I should haves during his postgame news conference.

His fumble late in the first quarter helped put the Redskins in a 14-0 hole. The play-action pass play quickly broke down because rookie running back Alfred Morris did not pick up blitzing safety Major Wright.

Griffin made Wright miss in the backfield, but he stumbled as he tried to escape. Defensive end Israel Idonije beat tight end Fred Davis from the opposite side, and he sacked Griffin and jarred the ball loose as Griffin fought to keep his balance and extend the play.

“I didn’t see [Idonije] coming,” Griffin said. “I was actually trying to … throw the ball to [Morris] in the flat, who was open. I should have tried to secure the ball in that situation. It’s just something I have to learn from and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Griffin could call Idonije his professor because the nine-year veteran was in on all three sacks in the first quarter.
He chased Griffin out of bounds for a 2-yard loss on the third play of the game. The play was a designed screen to running back Evan Royster, but Idonije grabbed Royster and prevented him from releasing into the flat.
Griffin, seeing the play was busted, tried to run but ended up losing yards.

“He’ll learn to throw that one just at the guy’s feet,” Shanahan said. “He can look to see if he can make a play, but I think that will come more natural to him in time, where you just kind of throw it away.”

And there was the unnecessary hit Griffin took from defensive end Julius Peppers on the sideline on the first series. Peppers cleared his blocker and bore down on Griffin on a broken play, but Griffin still took eight steps, some of them backward, to try to make something out of nothing.

Griffin released the ball just as Peppers shoved him to the ground. Griffin popped up, unharmed from the contact, but he might not always be that lucky.

“I should have gotten rid of the ball a little earlier,” Griffin said.

His throwing mechanics betrayed him at times, too. On second-and-12 from the Chicago 17 in the second quarter, Griffin threw a slant pass incomplete behind Pierre Garcon. Griffin didn’t step toward the target with his left foot, and his front shoulder flew open.

Earlier, the Redskins failed to convert third-and-2 near midfield because Griffin threw on the run behind tight Niles Paul. Paul got both hands on the soft toss, but he had to turn awkwardly to do so. The ball fell incomplete, and the Redskins punted.

“I’m trying to get to the first down, just full-speed running. It was back here,” said Paul, re-enacting his reach. “You’ve got to make that catch.”

Griffin spoke during training camp about the importance of turning his left shoulder all the way toward his target when throwing on the run to his left. He did not do that on that throw.

“Those are the kind of things you figure out through the course of the game and then the course of a season,” Griffin said. “I think you learn the more you play.”



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