RGIII Frequently Asked Question; How We Got Here, Why He’s Broken, and Where to Go Next

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What the hell happened!?! Why does RGIII suck all the sudden!?

Okay, if you’re going to get shouty, this is going to be harder. Everything that’s gone on with is pretty complex and there’s no simple answer. More like there’s a bunch of complex answers that lead to an unclear solution.

Okay, start at the beginning — wasn’t Griffin touted as a “pocket passer who could run” coming out of Baylor? Was that a lie? A fluke?

It’s neither. If you were to look at what Cam Newton ran in college and compared it to what RGIII ran, you’d be inclined to think Baylor’s offense looked more NFL like.

But part of Baylor’s offense is the use of option routes based off the coverage the defense plays. I think this is where some of Griffin’s issues holding the ball stem from. There’s not a lot of anticipation throws in Baylor’s offense.

It’s more of a system designed to take advantage of wide open receivers based off PA and waiting for guys to run their routes. Even at Baylor, Griffin took some nasty sacks that would’ve been more easily avoided in a more rhythm based, drop back passing game.

It’s the same sort of issue that affected Kevin Kolb, who played in the same offense.

Mentioning RGIII and Kevin Kolb in the same sentence doesn’t fill me with confidence.

It’s the truth, though. It’s tough to transition from “throw at a guy who’s wide open” to “throw into tight windows with the right footwork” is tough.

So what made 2012 so different? Kolb certainly never had a season like that.

What Kyle Shanahan did was marry what his offense was already good at — scheming guys open, play-action passes, bootlegs, crossing routes — with elements of Chris Ault’s Pistol offense and Baylor’s use of the read option.

In essence, Shanahan was running those QB bootlegs his Dad, made famous, without his QB needing to turn his back to the defense.

Despite what’s been said, Kyle didn’t really copy much from Baylor. Baylor used super wide splits for receivers to create room for the read option. Kyle’s formations were more condensed and used base personnel.

It was a trade off. By keeping bigger bodies on the field, he caused more deception and worse overreaction from linebackers. But that also meant bigger bodies to hit the QB.

But it worked. Teams were so terrified of Griffin’s running ability, they played base defense and vanilla coverage. Kyle could run the same play over and over. Robert’s ball handling was magnificent. Alfred Morris and RGIII were a destructive back field.

Did RGIII excel in a gimmick offense?

Absolutely not. The offense is as much a pro-style offense as anything Kyle ran with Schaub; it was just run a different way. If you watched Gary Kubiak and Kyle Shanahan’s offenses at the same time, there wasn’t a whole hell of a lot different than how they achieved the same goal.

The offense wasn’t a gimmick, and the read-option is a sound NFL principle. And it has to be mentioned that Griffin never got hurt running the read-option.

Then what happened?

Seattle.

Seattle?

Seattle. Or more over, RGIII’s ACL injury. That set off a chain reaction that’s still affecting the team today.

Who’s fault was it that Griffin stayed in the game?

Everyone’s.

Griffin bears some of the responsibility here. In that moment, he displayed none of the maturity people thought he showed versus Baltimore, when he knew he couldn’t play anymore and pulled himself out of the game. Griffin chose to stay in the game, then either he lied about his health, or he was too stubborn to admit his injury to his coach and himself.

Mike Shanahan made a dumb decision, risking Griffin’s health to try to win, even when it was painfully obvious that Griffin couldn’t play. He failed on a coaching level and on a basic human level.

And Dr. James Andrews failed miserably. But a guy who clears someone from surgery over the phone isn’t exactly the most ethically sound person ever.

Weird that no one took blame for it.

This is what happens when a group of adults can’t sit down and effectively communicate without hurt feelings and political BS inteferring.

All this stuff is happening because of hurt feelings?

Well, kind of. We know that Shanahan was contemplating quitting because of Dan Snyder and RGIII’s alleged closeness. We know that Griffin was hurt by Shanahan not showing up after his surgery.

What does this have to do with Griffin regressing?

Everything. Everything that happens after Seattle is still causing ripples now.

Griffin and Shanahan were at odds. Neither guy wanted to take responsibility. He was hurt, and there was another quarterback Shanny had drafted.

“All In For Week 1” was half ad campaign and half campaign strategy. There was no way he’d be fully healthy. But he got a leg up on Shanahan at any rate.

So he regressed because of a sneakers commercial?

He started regressing because he overestimated his own health and ability.

It’s no secret that Griffin wants to pattern his game after Aaron Rodgers. He wanted to be a pocket passer. He dismissed claims he was anything but that.

And so an unhealthy RGIII is campaigning to return by Week 1 of the 2013 season, and on top of that, he wants to be a more typical pocket passer. With no training camp. Or preseason.

Why would he be so focused on that when Kyle’s offense worked so well for him?

I feel like people got into Griffin’s head, clouded his judgement and boosted his ego. You didn’t see him screaming to start a year after ACL surgery at Baylor. He didn’t kvetch about running the ball there.

Griffin’s a self described loner. I’d imagine an outsider can’t convince him of much. And so his inner circle likely told him what he wanted to hear (that it was the Shanahans who caused his injuries and were holding him back) instead of what he needed to hear (he played a role in all his injuries in addition to the coach).

Kyle’s not totally innocent. Griffin apparently asked not to run the ball as much after injuring his knee. The entire Dallas gameplan was read-option heavy, and even after Griffin reaggravated his injury, Kyle still called read-option plays.

The trust was gone. The combo of that and his own desires to become a pocket passer created an issue.

Should Griffin have started Week 1 in 2013?

Hell no.

I convinced myself otherwise at the time. But no. He shouldn’t have started.

Everything about that was out of sorts. Griffin received few training camp reps. He played none in the preseason. He wasn’t healthy enough to run effectively, and even if he had been, he didn’t want to.

Mike Shanahan should’ve taken a stand. He should’ve emphatically said no, Griffin wouldn’t start, that he needed practice and reps and wasn’t ready. He shouldn’t have allowed himself to be manipulated.

Instead, trying to salvage their relationship, Shanny acquiesced. He accepted an absurd return date. And then, in his own BS power move, wouldn’t allow Griffin to practice until late in camp or to have any reps in preseason.

Meanwhile, Kyle was tasked with scrapping his successful offense to try and make a rusty QB with no offseason work into a polished pocket passer.

And now we talk about why Griffin regressed.

Finally.

Under ideal circumstances, Shanahan could’ve slowly started adding in more traditional passing concepts while continuing to use the Pistol and read-option to supplant it.

Instead, the injury and RGIII’s lack of trust in the staff meant the offense losing it’s identity.

Defenses adjusted. They weren’t afraid of Griffin’s legs, and played more aggressive looks.

Even in 2012, Griffin sometimes held the ball too long. It seemed on film like less of an issue of not knowing where to go with the ball, and more to do with him not willing to trust what he saw.

He seemed to dislike throwing with coverage in the area. If there was a defender nearby, he’d double clutch, then scramble.

As great as RGIII was, he could’ve been better. His reluctance to throw with coverage in the area showed a lack of understanding of what’s open in the NFL.

That kept his INT total low, but also prevented bigger plays.

Now take that issue, and remove those wide open crossers. Now force that same guy with that same issue to have to make NFL throws, on time, on rhythm. With no offseason work. Or preseason.

So that’s why Griffin blew in 2013.

All things considered, Griffin didn’t play that bad in 2013.

If nothing else, he looked like he actually understood what was going on 80% of the time. His issues were no more pronounced than Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson. He seemed capable of running an NFL offense, if not occasionally inefficient.

But he had solid if unspectacular outings versus the Cowboys, Bears, Vikings, Chargers and Giants. He actually seemed to be improving some, even if it didn’t show up in the win-loss column.

So what happened? If he was getting better, where’d everything go upside down?

I don’t have an answer.

I have theories. But the guy who wears number 10 now looks completely different than the guy from 2012 and even 2013.

Some of the issues still stem back to the knee. Before the knee, Griffin could slack a little on his footwork because his arm is so good.

After the knee injury, the Shanahans tweaked his footwork and tried to get him to throw with a wider base. This, combined with the knee injury, led to poor weight transfer and decreased accuracy.

But as uneven as his footwork could be in 2013, it’s gotten worse.

The only thing I can compare it to is a QB version of the Yips. He’s thinking too much. There’s a barrier between taking the play call in, processing the defense, and transmitting that info to his legs. It’s like he’s forgotten how to do things he’s done since high school.

That’s what is so alarming. This is the same guy who, on his first touchdown pass, in his first game as a Pro, was able to identify the blitz, recognize his hot receiver was covered, moved the safety with eyes, and found his primary receiver, while getting hit.

Now, getting RGIII to just throw to a primary receiver who is open is an issue. His lack of trust in throwing to receivers with people in the area is even more pronounced.

He was terrified of making a mistake, which, naturally, lead to more mistakes. His ability to effectively read coverage vanished.

It’s the Yips. It’s a total loss of confidence, combined with trying to absorb a new offense, with two guys who are “better fits” than he is breathing down his neck and no room to grow. All with the expectations of his rookie season and a cynical fanbase.

So he’s a lost cause?

Yes and no.

In Washington? Probably. The Redskins can sugar coat it, but Gruden’s made no bones about insinuating that Griffin isn’t part of the future.

It’d be asinine to keep Griffin in Washington if Gruden is convinced he can’t be the guy. All you do is cause more drama if that’s the case. If that fence can’t be mended, it’s better for everyone if the team moves in a different direction and move forward. Accept making the worst trade ever and find your next QB.

But Griffin as a player still shows glimpses of the guy from 2012.

If he could land with a Chip Kelly or Andy Reid, in a city where there’s no pressure to immediately start him and he can just sit and learn and fade out of the spotlight a bit, he’d be better off. He needs time to decompress, re-evaluate himself and his game.

No Subway and adidas commercials, just football.

He might actually reach his potential if that happened. Or, if nothing else, he’d become a solid starter.

But in DC? He’s probably cooked.

That’s terribly depressing.

Come on. This is the Redskins. You should be used to terribly depressing.

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