Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Why Can Robert Griffin III Take the Redskins to the Playoffs?


Before I get started, obviously, I’m a Washington Redskins fan. There shouldn’t be any doubt about that. I’m not writing making guarantees—I can easily turn any of the points I will write about into negatives for why RGIII can’t take the Redskins to the playoffs—this is almost all strictly hypothetical. But everything in sport is hypothetical and uncertain. Week 15 last season, the New York Giants shouldn’t have even been in the playoffs. But they snuck their way in and bowled through everyone on their way to the franchise’s 4th Super Bowl win.

Robert Griffin III brings potential at its maximum levels to the table, and these are the things he can use to help propel the Redskins into their first playoff berth of the Mike Shanahan era, and the first since Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs final season with the team in 2007-08.

You’re looking at quite possibly the most athletic quarterback in the league, if not in the league’s history. That also means you could be looking at one of the most gifted players in league history as well. RG3 brings a very unique set of ability in with him, from his cannon of a right arm, to his [what he claims are] Olympic-speed-capable legs. And with those two things alone, Griffin can force defenses to do things they don’t want to do… he can revolutionize the sport of American football.

Griffin’s speed and footwork are exactly what Mike Shanahan is looking for in a quarterback. It’s what every coach wants in a quarterback—someone who can avoid pressure, and if he has to, outrun it—and Griffin can do exactly that. Griffin’s speed allows Shanahan to utilize his entire playbook again, bring back all the wrinkles he had before going with the immobility of guys like a demotivated Donovan McNabb or the incapable Rex Grossman. The speed of craftier QB’s like Montana, Young, Elway, Plummer, Cutler, Schaub… that’s the staple of this offense as it allows the QB to utilize stretch plays, bootlegs, play action, and the threat of taking off. Griffin is, without a doubt, the fastest of that group. While that’s no guarantee he’ll be any better than any of those guys, in this system and with this ability he has a chance to stake his claim.

Now you throw in the big arm. Defensive backs will stay honest because of Griffin’s speed. Nobody wants to let him take off, so corners and safeties will have their heads on a swivel watching the kid to make sure he doesn’t take off and use his sprinter’s speed to maim them. When a corner bites up against Griffin on a [naked] bootleg, he’s got the arm strength to make virtually any throw and leave very few DB’s with the chance to close the gap and break up the pass.

As I mentioned, the playbook is open again. Shanahan can go back 20 years and find plays he loved to utilize then, or he can grab a couple of those “slower” plays he used the past two seasons (especially last year) for his change of pace. Having that much at their disposal will allow Shanahan and RG3 to really keep defenses on their heels.

Another thing that is aided by the playbook being open, is that the stretch is now a part of the offense again, meaning the zone blocking scheme this offensive line was built for returns in full effect, allowing the linemen to play their game and not just sit and get abused while trying to protect an immobile quarterback. That alone should boost production in both the run and ground game, and it’s a direct relation to Griffin’s mobility.

If this team makes the playoffs, it will be, in large part, due to the physical ability Griffin provides this team. The entire team will be responsibleand I’m not glorifying Griffin as being more important than anyone outside of that fact that he plays at the most important position on the teambut his ability to move and throw accurately at every depth pass will be a major reason for this team’s [possible] success.

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