“He can be a lot better from last year. You grow and you learn from Year 1 to Year 2,” wide receiver Pierre Garcon said. “He’s understanding the offense a little better. He’s been in it, so now, you understand it, you know what the team is trying to accomplish, you know where to look, what to read, what you want to see, what you don’t want to see, the coverages and body language of the defenses, blitzing and when they’re not blitzing. You understand the keys and the plays, who’s open, who’s potentially open. The more you’re in the offense, the more you’re familiar with it and can think more ahead. He’ll definitely be a lot better from last year.”
Even without the knee injury, Griffin would have faced a challenge this season. While he had the element of surprise on his side as a rookie, now defensive coordinators have a full season’s worth of game footage to dissect his approach and Washington’s offense. But, a great quarterback can overcome such challenges and perform at a high level regardless of how much footage opponents have on him.
“Everybody expects more. The better you play, the more is expected of you,” former NFL coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said. “And to be a great football player, you have to deliver. That’s what Brady did. That’s what the great quarterbacks do. Aaron Rodgers does it every year, Peyton Manning continues to do it. And if Robert Griffin is cleared and ready to roll, I expect the same from him.”
But Griffin will not take that next step if he can’t stay healthy.
Said Gruden: “We already have seen Robert Griffin get injured, unfortunately, and I’m concerned with any quarterback that runs the ball and plays the position recklessly because as far as I know, the quarterback is the only guy that can’t play on Sunday if he has a sore passing shoulder. That’s my only concern. I love watching [dual-threat] quarterbacks play. I love the style of offense that they play. The combination of drop-back passing and option football is just downright nasty to a defense to defend, but can they sustain that style of play deep into their careers and eventually become $100 million quarterbacks, as well?”
Griffin’s longevity will hinge both on the way that offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan uses and protects his quarterback, and on Griffin’s own post-snap decision making.
Both Mike and Kyle Shanahan say that they will do everything they can to protect their quarterback, but they strongly disagree with the notion that they strike from their playbook the zone-read option plays that Griffin ran so effectively last season.