I’ll go into more detail tomorrow when I review the game some more, but I wanted to give some of my initial impressions:
1. Early Impression on Griffin:
It’s only been three weeks but you can see some of the development of Griffin from his first preseason game, to this match-up versus the Colts. Griffin looked sharper with his throws, dealt with pressure better, and ran some tougher plays which required Griffin to process more. All of these are really promising signs, and hopefully we’ll see a continuation of this during the season.
I think what impressed me the most about Griffin was that he didn’t try to do too much. A lot of times we see young quarterbacks try to do too much, instead of taking what the defense gives you. It’s easy to figure out why young QB’s have this issue, since they were able to get away with relying on their skill set in college and high school. The NFL is a different ball game, and can’t be treated the same and it is good to see that Griffin seems to appreciate that.
I know it is tough to see that Griffin’s yards per attempt were extremely low, but with the Redskins on top on the scoreboard and the running game going as it was, that is exactly how Griffin should have approached those drives. To not have Griffin force throws (for the most part) or take off needlessly, is what’s best for him and this team. It might kill Griffin’s fantasy value, but it is what is best for the Redskins to come away with a win.
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Now it is likely that in most games Griffin will need to do quite a bit more than he did on Saturday to win games, but it was still good to see the rookie display smart football instincts.
2. Line Wins in Trenches:
Whether it was the return of health of some players or just playing against a weak defensive team, but the offensive line performed pretty well for the most part. There were some plays that weren’t too pretty, and some linemen who could further improve, but overall it was a strong game. Not surprisingly a strong day by the offensive line meant a far easier day for everyone else.
Griffin talked about the importance of the line on his touchdown pass to Santana Moss. “The offensive line did a good job of helping me stay calm the whole time and sealing off that edge even though we had blitz pressure on that play, we still sealed it off and got a clean throw.”
The line of course was most impressive in their run blocking for Alfred Morris and Tim Hightower. This led to the Skins picking up big swaths of yardage on the ground, keeping the offense moving. Morris gained 7.6 yards per carry and showed that not only does he deserve a roster spot, but he should get the chance to contribute in the regular season.
That strong rushing attack meant that the offense faced quite a few 3rd and short situations, something they really hadn’t had much this preseason. This made life quite a bit easier for Griffin and allowed him to worry about completing a 4-5 yard pass for a first down not a 9-12 yard pass. This really kept the offense moving and taking control of the game.
Opposing quarterback Andrew Luck, acknowledged the importance of creating favorable situations when asked about improving 3rd down success, “One, I think if you can get it into a third-and-manageable, I think your odds of moving the chains are much higher. If you’re stuck third-and-11 or third-and-15, it’s tough to convert, but I think guys buckling down and playing football and not worrying about anything else but their assignment.”
Creating manageable situations is something the Redskins really didn’t do the first two weeks, but was exactly how it worked out on Saturday. Also shorter third down situations open up Griffin’s running ability to help move the chains, which was seen when Griffin scrambled for a first down. While there will be plays where Griffin picks up more yards, typically he’s likely to get 4-6 yards on plays like that. If that had been 3rd and 10 or 3rd and 8, Griffin’s scramble wouldn’t have been enough to keep the drive alive.
*Quotes are from the Redskins Media Relations Department