- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 21, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

You have to wonder if Robert Griffin III learned a valuable lesson Saturday in the Washington Redskins’ 27-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday.

He didn’t win the game. But he didn’t lose it, either.

He wasn’t “SuperBob.” He was simply the quarterback who did just enough to win and not too much to lose.

He was a game manager — an important step if Griffin is truly going to develop as a quality NFL quarterback.

Despite his rookie season heroics, in this league, you have to know how to manage games before you can win them consistently.

Completing 16 of 23 passes for 220 yards, with one interception, no touchdowns and 11 yards rushing hardly won the game. But Griffin kept the game — and himself — under control.

“You want your quarterback to be as poised as possible, and he did that,” said receiver DeSean Jackson, who benefited from that poise with four catches for 126 yards against his former team.

Jackson said it best when he told reporters after the game, “If I recall, I think [Griffin] threw one interception, but besides that he managed the game. The opportunities he gave us as a wide receiver and as an offense, I think he did that.”

Robert Griffin III — game manager.

No one makes documentaries about game managers. But they do make ESPN “30 for 30” documentaries about cautionary tales of fallen stars, and Griffin seemed more likely to be in one of those films than an installment of “RG3 — The Will to Win — A Sequel.”

Filmmakers and sponsors may not love game managers. But coaches do.
You would have thought Colt McCoy’s middle name was “managed the game” considering the number of times Redskins coach Jay Gruden has referred to McCoy — and often with far more complimentary terms than Griffin.

Saturday, compared to previous evaluations of Griffin, Gruden was downright effusive in his praise of his beleaguered quarterback.

“I think Robert did a great job,” Gruden told reporters after the win. “I think number one, getting the ball out of his hands, and number two, making good decisions. He only got sacked twice. One he had no chance on. The other was a great rush by their guy against Trent [Williams].”

And then it came — the ultimately Gruden compliment for Griffin.

“Overall, I thought he did an outstanding job of managing the football game, not only in the passing game, but he did a lot at the line of scrimmage in the running game, which is very important,” Gruden said. “He did an excellent job. I think [we were] just trying to get him comfortable, trying to get him an opportunity to get the ball l out of his hands and make good, sound decisions like he did.”

That’s what a good manager does — make good, sound decisions.
Earlier this week, Gruden expressed concern about how the team would respond to Griffin. “It’s important for our offense to rally around [Griffin] and play well,” he said.

The coach was clearly particularly happy about that development Saturday. “It was great to see Robert compete and play,” Gruden said. “He looked like he had a lot of fun out there and the players responded to him.”

After the game, Griffin did all he could to repair his relationship with those players who Gruden expressed concern about.”It really isn’t about me,” he said. “This win’s about the team … we’ve been through a lot of adversity, a lot of mess. Guys have responded. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I wouldn’t want to play with any other players. These guys mean a lot to me, and I can feel in the locker room after the game.”

“I feel like I’ve always had that support from my teammates, and that’s been the blessing through this entire time, through all the ups and downs and changes — being in the lineup and not being in the lineup, I’ve always had that support from them,” Griffin said.

Let’s face it — if Griffin had the support of his teammates several weeks ago, he would never been benched.

He was asked if indeed he did learn anything during that time that his teammates always supported him. “It’s hard to answer that question, and I’m not going to,” Griffin said.

He doesn’t have to. We will be able to see for ourselves what he has learned by the way he manages the games and the persona of RG3.

• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.com.


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