The Washington Redskins officially benched quarterback Robert Griffin III today.
This should come as no surprise.
He’s just not a very good quarterback right now.
Like so many young NFL quarterbacks, he struggles reading NFL defenses.
In college at Baylor, he played in a gimmick offense, and the receivers were often wide open. In the NFL, the windows are much smaller; the defenses, more complex.
“One of the major challenges for all young NFL QBs is learning the difference between ‘college open’ and ‘NFL open,'” said former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah.
And processing NFL defensive schemes isn’t his only issue.
“You wish he had better pocket awareness,” said NFL.com draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki. “He tends to feel rushers coming, and vacates the pocket early.”
These two issues have really held Griffin back.
“There was a quarterback not reading the field when he should have been, there was a quarterback scrambling when he [shouldn’t have been],” said Redskins radio sideline reporter Chris Cooley in a devastating analysis of his play.
Durability has also been a big problem for Griffin, and this didn’t just rear its head in Washington. Remember, at Baylor, he blew out a knee and had concussion issues.
In Washington, he blew out a knee again at the end of his rookie year, and then dislocated his ankle six minutes into the Redskins’ season opener this season.
So he’s already suffered three serious leg injuries, and you have to wonder if that has zapped him of the world-class speed he once possessed.
Nawrocki, who has been called a racist by some progressives for harsh critiques of some African-American quarterback prospects (Cam Newton, Geno Smith, and Griffin), had major concerns about Griffin’s durability coming out of college.
“Over the long-haul, the big concern is can he stay healthy,” Nawrocki said prior to the 2012 draft. “You worry about his durability. He could have a hard time staying healthy in the pros.”
So these three big issues–processing defenses, pocket presence and durability–have been a toxic brew for RG III.
Is Griffin done in Washington? Probably.
It’s pretty apparent that Griffin and Jay Gruden aren’t on the same page, and the coach feels the quarterback was forced on him. So, a fresh start is in order for Griffin.
True, he did some good things as a rookie when former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan ran a lot of college stuff such as the read-option, and surprised the league. However, defensive coordinators have adjusted, which they often do. They figured him out.
And the Redskins probably rushed him into action, like so many teams do with hot-shot college quarterbacks these days.
The best way to develop a quarterback is probably the way the Green Bay Packers handled Aaron Rodgers, who sat and learned for three years.
The light-bulb didn’t truly come on for Terry Bradshaw in Pittsburgh until his late twenties.
Playing quarterback in the NFL is really, really hard. And teams need to stop rushing guys into the lineup before they are ready.
So the Redskins are going with Colt McCoy at quarterback likely for the rest of the season, barring an injury.
He’s the better signal-caller right now, and gives Washington the best chance to win as Redskins coach Jay Gruden said today.
Perhaps Griffin can reemerge in the future after taking a step back for a while to work on footwork, mechanics, reading defenses, and getting his head right.
But right now, the Redskins made the right call going with McCoy, who led the team to a pair of victories early this season over Tennessee and Dallas.
Griffin needs a time-out.