Robert Griffin III has taken some big shots already in his young NFL career, and the one delivered by Atlanta's Sean Weatherspoon on Sunday knocked Washington's superstar rookie out of the game.
Griffin rolled out of the pocket deep in Atlanta territory, then tried to scramble up the sideline. Weatherspoon was waiting for him, though, and laid a huge hit on Griffin as he dove to the ground. Griffin rolled over and stayed down for a moment before walking slowly to the sideline. Trainers attended to him on the sideline, and Griffin appeared to have a bloody lip. [si_launchNFLPopup video='5e7e2f2cdbc54bbfa5734e0ff4a01eb0']You can watch the hit on RGIII here[/si_launchNFLPopup].
According to the FOX broadcast, Griffin was taken to the Redskins' locker room to be checked for a concussion. Moments later, it was reported that he would not return to the game. Mike Shanahan announced after the game that Griffin suffered a "mild concussion," and did not know the game's score or quarter when asked immediately after the hit.
Fellow rookie Kirk Cousins took over for Griffin, and on his second career possession, [si_launchNFLPopup video='13168adbe828463bb1f2a53837645086']threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss[/si_launchNFLPopup]. That play gave Washington a 17-14 lead over Atlanta in the fourth quarter. But after Atlanta rallied, Cousins threw a pair of interceptions to help the Falcons seal a road victory.
Protecting Griffin has been one of Redskins coach Mike Shanahan's main concerns so far this season. After the Redskins' Week 3 loss to Cincinnati, Shanahan lamented the beating Griffin took:
"You don’t want a quarterback taking as many shots as he did, Shanahan said. "That’s for sure."
Griffin expressed surprise about the number of shots he took -- or, rather, the number of hits the officials allowed him to take -- in Washington's Week 1 win over New Orleans. He has not quite figured out how to avoid those painful moments, though. The Bengals beat up Griffin in Week 3, then Tampa Bay did the same in Week 4.
Like other mobile quarterbacks, Griffin does some of his best work when he can get out of the pocket, either on designed runs or improvisations. However, as the Eagles have learned with Michael Vick, that can leave a QB open to some unnecessary collisions. Griffin has to find a way to balance his natural tendency to try to make plays with the physicality of NFL games. Maybe Weatherspoon's hit will speed up Griffin's learning curve.