It’s fun to watch this offense with Robert Griffin III (221 yards passing, 85 rushing) in control. It really is. But the thing that concerns me is that they have trouble when trying to simply drop back and throw. They moved the ball well in the second half when using Brandon Banks in the backfield and when the Bengals went up 14 and allowed passes underneath. But as the Redskins keep playing this season, will it be tough to sustain drives with such an approach? Thing is, Griffin is a special talent and a playmaker. If they’re not putting him in position as a threat with both his arm and his legs, then they’re not using their full arsenal. Teams aren’t afraid of him simply as a passer, but they’re scared to death when they’re not sure what he’s going to do. Hence the dilemma. But it’s leading to lots and lots of hits. Griffin has a great attitude and is tough, but how much can he take?
Griffin brought the Redskins back, but even the reigning Heisman Trophy winner is going to have trouble keeping pace if Washington continues giving up 30-plus points – which has happened every game so far in this young season.
“It’s disappointing,” Washington coach Mike Shanahan said. “I thought the defense was going to be the strength of our football team.”
The Washington Redskins talked all week about how they needed to shore up their defense, particularly their efforts in the secondary, but those struggles continued as the Bengals racked up six plays of 25 yards or more (touchdowns of 73, 48 and 59 yards). A.J. Green simply blew past DeJon Gomes on the opening play of the game. The Redskins saw the Wildcat formation and expected a run, but Mohamed Sanu made a great throw to catch Washington off-guard. The Redskins gambled and lost on the Armon Binns touchdown. Jim Haslett’s unit had the Bengals in a second-and-20 situation, so the defensive coordinator dialed up a cover-zero blitz (the corners are matched up one-on-one with receivers and have no safety help over the top because the safeties are in the box trying to get to the quarterback). The Redskins have been burned on this in the past, and their cornerbacks dislike this scheme, but as Coach Mike Shanahan said, “Some times you have to take a chance.”
But Griffin has quickly proven that he’s hard to shut down. He brought the Redskins (1-2) back from a 24-7 deficit, then nearly pulled even again after being down 38-24. His 2-yard run at the end of a 90-yard drive cut the lead to 38-31 with 3:35 remaining, and a potential game-tying drive went from Washington’s 2 all the way to Cincinnati’s 19 in the final two minutes.
Then it got weird. Griffin was sacked for a 15-yard loss. Then he spiked the ball with 7 seconds left. Then tight end Fred Davis was called for a false start. Then coach Marvin Lewis and the Bengals, anticipating a 10-second runoff, thought the game was over and walked onto the field en masse. Then an official called an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a livid Redskins sideline.