Is it the ankle? The knee? Or an Achilles’ heel: his inability to operate from the pocket? The MMQB’s film-study guru says physical setbacks can’t explain away Robert Griffin III’s poor grasp of quarterbacking basics
Locker room leadership can be overrated. How a quarterback really loses his team is by leaving receivers open on the field. This is Robert Griffin’s biggest problem, and has been throughout his career. What’s most concerning is that he’s leaving receivers on the field out of a variety of formations and against a variety of coverages. The common thread is bad mechanics and a poor sense of timing.
Here are some examples from when Griffin returned to action two weeks ago after suffering a dislocated ankle in early September. To a small degree, his struggles can be attributed to rust. But that alone can’t explain away his poor grasp of quarterbacking basics.
Griffin’s performance against the Bucs last Sunday wasn’t much better. While you can argue that his first interception wasn’t his fault, the second one—the Johnthan Banks pick-six—was bad. It came on third-and-6, and Griffin never accounted for inside linebacker Mason Foster after he dropped out of a double A-gap look. Foster was spying Griffin (not an uncommon tactic in that situation), and he saw Griffin staring down a short slant. That’s not great for a quarterback to do, but it’s not the worst thing on a quicker timed pass, either. Nevertheless, Jay Gruden surely addressed this sloppiness with Griffin on Monday.
Griffin, who has good arm strength, must play smarter from the pocket and protect the football. It’s especially important because the film shows that he can’t run anymore. There’s an underlying heaviness to his movements that could be attributed to the ankle injury. The quickness and acceleration with which he mesmerized crowds during his rookie season is gone. Maybe it's only temporary, or maybe not. Given how Griffin played last year, this change could be linked to post knee-surgery rust, which, now nearly two years old, likely wouldn’t shake off.
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