If there is one thing that we have learned from watching Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III it is this. Do not send less than four men on the pass rush if you want to sack him. Anything less than four and you are asking for trouble.
Last week the Minnesota Vikings did send four men after Griffin III with the game on the line. All that he did was tuck the ball under his arm and run 76 yards for a touchdown. Minnesota had no choice but to go after Griffin III. They were trailing 31-26 and needed to get the ball back. Someone had to make a play. Unfortunately for the Vikings it was Griffin III.
The New York Giants tried a different approach Sunday. Leading the Redskins 20-16 late in the fourth quarter the Giants had to stop Washington one more time to put the game on ice. With the Redskins facing a fourth and 10 on their own 23, the Giants decided to drop eight into coverage and rush three. This turned out to be a big mistake.
Griffin III took the snap and calmly dropped back into the pocket. As his protection broke down he drifted to his left. Griffin III stopped, took a quick look down field then headed back to his right. With the field wide open it looked like he was going to try and run for the first down. Instead he spotted tight end Logan Paulson and hit him for 19 yards and the much needed first down.
Three plays later, Griffin III hit wide receiver Santana Moss with a beautiful pass down the left sideline for a 30 yard touchdown which put Washington up 23-20. It seemed as though the Redskins might hold on for a big division victory until New York’s Eli Manning and Victor Cruz hooked up for a game winning 77 yard touchdown three plays later.
What the Giants found out on fourth and 10 is that Griffin III can buy enough time to burn you. The New Orleans Saints found this out on opening day when he burned them in a similar situation.
New York decided to rush three men despite their earlier success in getting to Griffin III. The Giants were able to sack him three times. The front four was just starting to get pressure on Griffin III when they decided to play conservatively. It almost cost them the game.
Despite what people think, the prevent defense works more often than not. However, if teams rush Griffin III with only three men they are asking for trouble. He can buy time with his legs and still throw accurately.
If the rest of the NFL does not know this then they had better take a look at Sunday’s game against New York.