Tom Brady plays a completely different game than RG3. He stands like a statue in the face of the pass rush, often times releasing the ball moments before absorbing a bone-crushing hit from a defensive lineman. Griffin, on the other hand, can often be seen pulling the ball down as defenders draw close, before he prepares to run. While no one in the world will dispute the speed advantage that Griffin possess over traditional quarterbacks, there is another point that I think gets lost sometimes when the discussion of the “evolution of the quarterback” is brought up:
Regardless of how fast Griffin can run, the speed of his feet will never match the velocity of his throws.
Think about it. Griffin ran a 4.41 second 40 yard dash at the NFL rookie combine before the 2012 draft. How long do you think it would take a thrown ball to travel that far? With the cannon Griffin houses on his right shoulder, probably less than three seconds on a dime. Those few split seconds that Griffin takes when pulling the ball down to run could often times be spent analyzing the defense in search of an open target. Griffin is currently averaging a robust 6.7 yards per run this season on 112 carries for 748 yards. Some of those yards have come on designed quarterback runs, while some have come from improvisation after finding no one open on a pass play.
The reasons that quarterbacks like Drew Brees perennially light the league up through the air is because they spend every last second in the pocket breaking down the defense in anticipation of passing the ball. Instead of tucking the ball, picking a lane and running 6.7 yards, RG3 could sometimes use those few precious seconds to locate an open receiver who is 6.7 yards away and already running, resulting in a bigger potential for gain.
But hey, who am I to offer advice to the guy? Robert Griffin III is having a spectacular rookie season. He leads the NFL in passer rating this year at 104.2. But let’s be realistic, the Redskins are being careful with him. Fellow rookie Andrew Luck has almost 200 more passing attempts than him. Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has been doing a good job of mixing in several college-style offensive schemes into the Skins offense, namely, the spread offense, the pistol formation and the triple option.
Doing some research however, it appears as though I’m not alone in my thinking that RG3 could stand to advance a little farther in the pro-style, pocket-throwing aspect of his game. In a November 11 interview with the Washington Post, former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck said he has “begun to wonder if the Redskins are overemphasizing the college-style elements of their offense and thus failing to take full advantage of Griffin’s accuracy as a passer.”
That interview was given back near mid-season, and the Redskins offense has remained mostly the same since then. I’m not suggesting that RG3 needs to disregard the athletic ability that makes him such a special player. However, I do believe that being forced to play more of a traditional pocket quarterback role this week will be beneficial for his career.