After 77-yard effort, is the old RG3 back?

After 77-yard effort, is the old RG3 back?
October 18, 2013, 12:30 pm
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2 Minute Drill: Redskins vs. Bears preview

On the Redskins’ first drive Sunday, Robert Griffin III scrambled for a 15-yard gain. Then a few plays later, the quarterback tucked the ball and raced seven yards to the Cowboys’ two-yard line.   

Soon after that, Griffin said he noticed Dallas middle linebacker Sean Lee had begun to shadow him.

“They put Sean Lee in the middle and had him spy me the rest of the game,” Griffin said. “Teams will choose what they want to do. Dallas played a lot of man coverage there for most of the game. And a lot of single safety. They brought a lot of guys down in the box to stop Alfred [Morris] running the ball. And, then, when I started running the ball, they left Sean Lee in the middle of the field to spy me.”

Despite the additional attention Lee and the Dallas defense turned on Griffin, he had his best rushing performance in 11 games, a 77-yard effort on nine carries. More important, Griffin also showed increased “burst,” in the words of Coach Mike Shanahan, and was more “instinctive,” by his own description.

Just as important, though, the Redskins might have regained an advantage they haven’t enjoyed since last season: opposing defenses now must begin respecting Griffin’s ability to run.  

Against Dallas, safeties began played closer to the line. With Lee being preoccupied with stopping Griffin, there was more space to be found in the middle of the field. It also created more space on the edges as the ends began to focus on Griffin. Redskins receivers, meantime, began seeing more one-on-one matchups.

“I think everyone will approach Robert differently, but you’ve got to get ready for a quarterback that has the ability to run and pass,” Shanahan said. “There’s no question about that. I think everybody could see that he made a couple of plays with his legs, so he is able to make plays where you couldn’t really see that in the first four games. So, yeah, I think anytime you have a quarterback that can do a few things, it puts a lot more pressure on the defense.”

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan added: Griffin "did a good job and it opened some stuff. It makes them defend a lot of stuff. ...I think Robert is starting to feel more comfortable the more he gets healthy. I think [Griffin] says [he's running more instinctually] because he's feeling he can be more of himself and I think it showed a little bit Sunday night." 

Griffin concurred with his coaches' assessment.   

“I think teams will,” he said, asked if he expects teams to begin defending him differently because of what he did agains the Cowboys. “Dallas did. …teams will have to pick their poison and pick what they want to take away. Whatever they take away, we have to go to the other thing and have to rely on that.”