RICHMOND—Robert Griffin III attempted eight passes in the Redskins’ 2015 preseason opener. That is more than the four he attempted in last year’s first preseason game against the Patriots. And it was pretty typical workload for starting quarterbacks around the league during the first two full nights of preseason action this week.
There were nine games on Thursday and Friday and 15 expected Week 1 starters at quarterback played (Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Tony Romo were healthy scratches). Aaron Rodgers attempted 19 passes but he was very much an outlier. Other than Rodgers, only Cam Newton (10) and Derek Carr (9) threw more passes than Griffin did.
Some have said that Griffin should get more throws than other quarterbacks because he has more to learn and more at stake going into a make or break year. When Jay Gruden was asked why Griffin didn’t play more on Thursday he said that Niles Paul’s season-ending ankle injury that he suffered during the Redskins’ second possession had something to do with it.
“I think the Niles Paul injury kind of just knocked the wind out of everybody,” Gruden said on Saturday. We just wanted to get the ones out of there and then see what the young guys were going to do. We have some youth on this football team and some free agents we wanted to get in there and see what they can do, and the same will be the case next week.”
One obstacle to Griffin playing more is that, like most coaches, Gruden prefers that the rest of the starters play with his No. 1 QB. Issues such as Trent Williams’ knee injury, which is not serious but he is hurting enough to where they want to limit his play, can affect how many snaps Griffin gets.
In the second preseason game last year, at FedEx Field against the Browns, Griffin attempted eight passes in 28 snaps. He was in for three series. The first was a short one as Griffin lost a fumble on the Redskins’ third offensive play. A Griffin interception ended the second series after nine plays. The third series was the best, spanning 77 yards in 13 plays, but the Redskins also came up empty after the line couldn’t get Alfred Morris into the end zone in four tries after a first and goal at the three.
It’s possible that Gruden had intended to play Griffin just two series during that game but didn’t want to take him out with the fumble and interception leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Griffin stayed in and led a good drive, albeit one that came up empty.
Gruden would not commit to how much Griffin and the first-team offense will play against the Lions on Thursday.
“Next week could be the same – first quarter, could be a little bit in the second quarter,” he said. “We’ll see where we are health-wise come Thursday.”