The Washington Redskins sold the farm to get Robert Griffin III, and not to everyone’s immediate approval. The Redskins long standing search for a quarterback seemed in some ways to have reached a point of desperation, where they were willing to mortgage just about anything (including their future), to get the guy they needed.
Like any draft pick, Griffin was a dice roll; though if the first two weeks of this season are any indication, the Redskins placed solid bets.
In two games where Griffin’s team was able to take down the high flying New Orleans Saints and should have beaten the St. Louis Rams (had it not been for a terrible dropped pass and subsequent unsportsmanlike penalty), Griffin exhibited not only an ability to make plays, but also an ability to make timely and patient decisions without getting flustered.
Griffin doesn’t just look like the second coming of Michael Vick or of another college quarterback who’s athleticism will get him into trouble in the NFL. Rather his running ability is very much an asset and doesn’t seem to at all compromise his ability to make good decisions throwing the football.
The Achilles heal of all scrambling quarterbacks have been the fact that they put themselves in a position where they have to make two decisions instead of one. They must decide first whether they will even throw the ball at all, or just run. Once that decision is made, they must then decide where to throw the football; a decision that is the only one in the minds of most pocket quarterbacks.
This has plagued players like Vick, Tim Tebow, and other scramble-first quarterbacks who just never could quite learn how to balance their approach to the position. There is a hesitance in them that ends up costing precious time and forces them to make plays with their feet, giving the feeling that they are never really “in control” of the game. Watching Griffin these last couple of weeks, that feeling is no where to be found.
When Griffin takes a snap and drops back, you don’t get the sense that he’s trying to make himself think about throwing the football, when all he really wants to do is run. Rather he’s confident in his arm and in his receivers, and only when those options are truly exhausted will he tuck the football under his arm and run.
When he does throw the ball, it’s evident that he’s making his reads and being very patient in the process. He often keeps the ball until the last possible moment before getting hit, a point at which he slings the ball out with quickness and precision hitting his intended target and turning what looked to be a loss into a play for positive yards. What’s more impressive, is the calm sense of control he has over the situation. He doesn’t panic, or take off before he needs to. Rather he waits, goes through his reads and finds the open man.
It has long been speculated that the “quarterback of the future”, so to speak, would be a college-style signal caller who had both athleticism and the ability to be comfortable in the pocket. While the sample of evidence we have in front of us is small, it would suggest that Griffin is that guy. It’s refreshing to see a player that excelled so much in college make the leap to the professional level and continue to succeed in his own right. If Griffin can continue to make calm decisions in the pocket and use his athleticism when the play breaks down and thus requires it, he’ll be well worth everything the Redskins gave up to get him.