Robert Griffin III sustained a number of brutal hits in a little more than a quarter of action Thursday night. To make matters worse, the beating came in a meaningless August preseason game, and resulted in an apparent injury.
Because all things with RG3 become a referendum, some fans and pundits took to social media to blame Redskins coach Jay Gruden for letting Griffin take too many hits. That mindset, however, seems misguided.
Griffin came into the second preseason game needing to show a command of Gruden's offense, and the only way to get that is game action. While the absence of Trent Williams on the offensive line looms very large, the remaining four players lined up in front of RG3 on Thursday were all presumed starters. Further, Detroit did not line up a roster of world beaters on their defensive line.
Griffin needed reps, and was playing behind 80 percent of the Redskins starting offensive line. The coach needs to see his starting quarterback work, and show the progress that has been talked about all summer against live competition. In three drives, Griffin and the offense showed little, so Gruden brought him out for a fourth chance. The coach explained his thought process:
“We weren’t doing that well on offense. I wanted to get something going," the coach said. "A lot of quarterbacks play into the second quarter in a pre-season game. Football is a tough sport. We wanted to get something going offensively. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.”
RG3 produced a terrible stat line, throwing for just 8 yards on 2/5 passing. And the line play in front of him, particularly the right side combination of Morgan Moses and Brandon Scherff and left tackle Willie Smith, was poor. But Gruden was certainly within reason to want another drive from Griffin.
Sacks, and taking big hits, have become a problem for RG3 in recent years. It looked the same Thursday night. It's hard to decipher when the line also plays poorly, which it did, but neither Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy took a sack once they entered the game. It also seemed that familiar problems of missing open receivers and holding the ball too long creeped up from Griffin.
"I’m not going to lay any blame on the QB or the offensive line," Gruden said following the game. "It was not a very good performance for our first-team offense, to say the least. I think we had one first down in four drives and a turnover. We have a lot of work to do.”
Did Griffin take too many hits? Certainly. Was that Gruden's fault? Hardly.
Disagree? Should Gruden have pulled RG3? Let us know what you think in the comments.