The headline version of what Ravens safety Bernard Pollard had to say about how the Ravens want to defend against Robert Griffin III is somewhat ominous and threatening:
“We’ve got to hit him every chance we get.”
However, Pollard was not speaking like Gregg Williams promising “remember me” hits on Peyton Manning before the Super Bowl a few years ago or Rex Ryan talking about putting some “hot sauce” on hits to Dolphins running back Reggie Bush earlier this season.
Pollard was just talking strategy. “We have to be a disciplined defense. We have to practice it throughout this week,” he said. “We’ve got to hit him every chance we get.”
That is a sound strategy for dealing with any quarterback, including pocket passers like Manning. But with Griffin running option plays out of the pistol formation, hitting him when the opportunity is there can lead to turnovers and bad decisions.
Perhaps Pollard and the Ravens looked a film of the Redskins against the Bengals. Cincinnati hit him time after time when he ran and after he pitched. One hit on Griffin caused a fumble deep in Washington territory, setting up a Bengals touchdown. Overall, it was one of Griffin’s worst games of the year.
Of course, other teams have seen that film and have tried to do the same thing with mixed success. Griffin has learned the trick of sometimes opening up his arms to show the officials that he doesn’t have the ball and a hit on him could result in a 15-yard roughing penalty.
Stopping Griffin, or at least having a shot at doing so, is more about what Pollard mentioned first, discipline. On RG3’s 49-yard run against the Giants, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul chased after Alfred Morris, who had gone up the middle without the ball. Griffin had nothing between him and the secondary.
The Ravens will need to find the proper balance between being aggressive and disciplined when trying to defend RG3. As the Redskins’ NFC East foes have found out in the last three weeks, that’s easier said than done.