Between the Stat Sheets is a twice-weekly look into the statistical tendencies that must improve for the Redskins to make progress this year. All stats are courtesy of Pro Football Focus, unless otherwise noted.
Last year RG3 made history. Not exactly the history he made in 2012, however, when he carried the Redskins to their first NFC East title in 13 years. Last year, as Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk reports, RG3 made sack history.
"“Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III took sacks during the 2014 season like no other quarterback in the 21st Century.Griffin was sacked 33 times last year while throwing only 214 passes. How rare is that? Not since Hugh Millen of the 1992 Patriots has a quarterback been sacked so many times while throwing so few passes.”"
RG3 will need to progress a little beyond the Hugh Millen circle of quarterback hell to have any hope of keeping his job this year.
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Did Griffin seem to be laying down a lot last year? Like, an Albert Haynesworth amount of time? That’s because he was sacked every 8 times he dropped back to pass last year. Before you jump to conclusions, as many have, Kirk Cousins was sacked every 26.6 times he dropped back behind that same offensive line.
Either opposing defenses just chose to let Cousins throw the ball directly into their chests, a strategy that had resounding success throughout the season, or something is seriously dysfunctional about Griffin’s game.
But there is a silver-lining to this dark cloud. Truth is, RG3 was actually very efficient when throwing quickly. His completion percentage was a league-best 80.3% on passes he attempted within 2.5 seconds of the snap. Also, and most surprisingly, he was the 4th most accurate passer in the league when throwing under pressure.
If the Redskins are to have any success on offense this year, RG3 will have to throw the ball before this happens.
What this indicates is that the problems RG3 has are mainly upstairs. When he is given a play that relies heavily on a pre-snap read, or when otherwise forced to make a snap decision, he does well.
Given too much time and he becomes an old lady weighing cantaloupes in the produce aisle: tedious, indecisive and excruciating to watch.
Remember the staple pass play from his 2012 year? It was read-option action fake to Pierre Garcon running the slant behind the linebackers. Griffin can hit a quick play like that all day.
Consider this recent analysis of the Redskins offense in the Washington Post. The first play analyzed is of Griffin carrying out a double fake to one side and then reading the movement of the deep safety. If the safety bites to the side opposite DeSean Jackson, who is running a fly route, then Griffin throws to Jackson. The safety bites, and so Griffin uncorks a deep ball that ends in a 51-yard gain.
These are the types of plays that he has been making since college: quick hitters that rely on a fast, simple read. Gruden is a much more traditional coach that loves complicated route combinations, stacked routes that demand complicated reads.
The first negative play in this analysis of the Week 11 debacle vs. Tampa Bay, Griffin hesitates to hit Garcon on the same post pattern they had so much success with in 2012.
If RG3 is going to improve this season, he will need to be able to pull the trigger on throws like these. Griffin has the potential either to play the ‘Skins into a more successful season, or to think his way out of one.