RICHMOND—Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III didn’t do anything spectacular during Friday’s practice. But he was quietly efficient, which is more like what the Redskins are looking for.
Griffin went seven for seven during full team drills according to those who tracked him. There was a long pass to DeSean Jackson but mostly it was a short dart here, a screen pass there.
Scot McCloughan spent the offseason trying to build a team that wouldn’t have to rely on spectacular quarterback play to succeed. He used free agent dollars and some draft picks to try to bolster a defense that gave up a touchdown per quarter on average last year. On the other side of the ball McCloughan spent the No. 5 pick on the offensive line in tackle Brandon Scherff and a third-round pick on running back Matt Jones. He also brought in one of the best offensive line coaches in the business in Bill Callahan, who also will coordinate the running game.
A good defense and a strong running game are a quarterback’s best friends. But the quarterback needs to embrace them and help the other elements of the game help him. A quality running game won’t do a team much good if the quarterback holds on to the ball too long trying to make a play and gets sacked. Second and 17 is not a running down. Nor does it help when the quarterback throws an interception that makes the defense defend a short field.
Griffin doesn’t get picked off an inordinate number of times but sacks were a problem in 2013 and, especially, 2014. No matter how strong or weak the offensive line may be, the key is getting rid of the ball in a hurry. On Friday, he did that for the most part. It needs to be noted that he is wearing a yellow “no contact” jersey and the players will not be in pads until today’s practice. We can’t draw any firm conclusions on his improvement in the sack avoidance department until the first preseason game in Cleveland on August 13.
For now we can look for signs that things are improving. We’re not very far along but it’s so far, so good.