Chris Cooley says RGIII looked ‘afraid to fail’ in last preseason game


(By Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Here’s another entry into the almanac of Robert Griffin III preseason analysis. It comes from Chris Cooley, the ESPN 980 host, Redskins Radio analyst and former RGIII teammate.

In general, Cooley pronounced himself not concerned about Griffin’s showing in his last, shakiest preseason game, against the Ravens.

“I would say he had seven plays that he wanted back. Let’s just call them that: seven plays that he would like to re-do,” Cooley said. “When I look at what he tried to do, I’m not in disarray. To me, it was a player who made an emphasis to sit in the pocket, try to read out defenses, try to throw check-downs, and try to be a pocket passer. I do not see him being this player once we get into the season. …

“His offense this week was so vanilla,” Cooley emphasized. “He had some opportunities to do some things — as far as staying in the pocket, sliding in the pocket, moving, keeping his eyes downfield — that he actually did very well.”

But Cooley did have one complaint, and it was a kind of interesting one, so I’m going to quote it at length. Like many fans, Cooley saw a quarterback who was thinking too much, one who at times seemed reluctant to throw the ball, a quarterback who was so anxious not to make passing mistakes that he sometimes just didn’t make passes.

“When I watched him play, I don’t see him letting the ball go,” Cooley said. “I see him as a quarterback who’s afraid to fail, a quarterback who ultimately in my opinion thinks if he throws three picks in this preseason game, it’s worse than doing anything else. And that’s what I didn’t like. He had guys open throughout the game. He had his number one reads open multiple times throughout the game, and just pulled the ball down. …

“Let’s put it this way: If I was a quarterback and got the coverage that I wanted and had my premier read, I would say, ‘Five-step drop and hitch and throw.’ Nothing more, nothing less,” Cooley said. “I would depend on my receiver to win in that instance. … He waited for his receivers to actually win.

“If you’re a quarterback setting and waiting for your receiver to come open like it’s co-ed flag football, he’s going to be covered by the time the ball’s left your hand,” Cooley said. “It’s that simple. DBs recover,  they recover in this league. Defenses react to quarterback eyes. If you’re throwing to a receiver to get him open down the field, you’ve got to throw him open, and you’ve got to understand that at times, I’ve got to trust my receiver.

“Throughout the game he had Andre Roberts down in the red zone running an option route that would have been a tight throw, but it’s the only throw,” Cooley said. “And that’s his number one read, and he doesn’t make it, and he ends up scrambling and getting out of bounds. He had Pierre Garcon on another play-action 10-yard in route which was the coverage that he wanted, and he didn’t let it go.

“And just keep in mind, this play-action that he got the coverage that he wanted would have been no different had it been read-option play action. No difference whatsoever. He got the look exactly what he wanted for Pierre and he pulls it down.  Now I don’t hate it, but I want to see him throw the ball down the field.

“Because ultimately, from knowing Robert, as soon as he makes two or three of those throws, he almost gets a smile on his face in the huddle, and it becomes this animal of you can’t stop me now. I feel good enough that you can’t stop me now. And when he gets a little bit flustered, I don’t think he says in his mind you can’t stop me now. I think he actually has to see that and say that.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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