Did RG3 learn from getting injured?

Did RG3 learn from getting injured?
December 13, 2012, 9:45 am
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Redskins Insider, Tarik El Bashir with more insight on RG3's injury...

Robert Griffin III has made mistakes during his rookie NFL campaign, but he has shown a remarkable ability to learn from them.

However, in a somewhat disturbing development, it doesn’t look like Griffin learned anything from the play on Sunday that led to his near-disastrous knee injury when Haloti Ngata hit him and sent his right leg bending in a way that it is not supposed to bend. When he was asked if he would have done anything different on the play, here’s what he said.

That play could happen to anybody. It wasn’t like I was waiting until the last second and got hit in the head like I did against Atlanta or anything like that. I was getting down and my leg came up and he [Ngata] hit my leg . . . I tried to get down. As soon as I turned in, I knew there was a lot of Ravens coming after me. It was just unfortunate so I’ll continue to make sure I play safe, play the way I have and still be aggressive.”

In other words, if Griffin had it to do all over again he would do the same thing. And that doesn’t seem to be the right answer.

Yes, he was getting down when Ngata hit him but he got down too late. The play came on second and 19 with the Redskins trailing the Ravens by eight at the two-minute warning. It was a do-or-die drive, but it was not a do-or-die play. After he took off and scrambled, there was an opportunity for him to head to the sideline instead of taking it back to the middle of the field. Yes, it would have been third and about 10 instead of third and six after the play, but they had two more chances to pick up those 10 yards. The extra four of five yards that Griffin gained was not worth the risk that turning the play back to the inside of the field entailed.

We have seen a pattern in the two games that Griffin did not finish. In both games, there were very few designed runs that called RG3’s number. He had one scramble for seven yards prior to going out with a concussion against the Falcons. He went out following his seventh run on Sunday, with most of the previous six coming on pass plays.

This may not be a coincidence. It seems that there is more of a chance of getting injured on a scramble than there is on a planned run. On a designed running play, the ball carrier knows who will be unblocked and therefore where trouble will be coming from.

On a scramble, however, you never know who will be coming for you. Griffin indicated on Sunday that he did not necessarily expect Ngata, a 6-4, 335-pound nose tackle, to be 15 yards downfield, when he cut back to the middle. Griffin went from the known, the sideline with a defensive back in front of him, to the unknown, the middle of the field where the larger bodies roam. It makes sense to play it very safe once you get downfield on a scramble.

Griffin should run. It’s in his DNA and it’s one of the reasons the Redskins paid so much to get themselves into position to draft him. In fact, if they don’t want to let him run they should trade him.

Sure there is some risk in him running. But there is risk in the pocket, too. “[T]here’s a lot of quarterbacks out there that aren’t necessarily the runners that aren’t playing right now because of injuries,” said Griffin. “It’s not just because I’m a little bit athletic and I can move around that I’m more prone to injuries. There’s a lot of quarterbacks out there that are getting hurt that don’t move around a lot.”

So it’s fine for Griffin to run. But the potential reward must outweigh the risk. If it was fourth down, even third down, then the gamble might be worth it. But dashing into the unknown for five extra yards on second down does not work on the risk-reward scale.

Perhaps Griffin was just delivering some partially false bravado here. Maybe he doesn’t want to let other teams know that he intends to head to the sideline the next time a similar situation comes up.

Or perhaps he does fully intend to run headlong into danger for the sake of five additional yards on a second down play.

Redskins fans had better hope that he was just talking some talk when he said that he would do the same thing in the same situation. Otherwise, a more serious injury is just a matter of time.