Griffin’s biggest error occurred late in the first quarter. On first down from Washington’s 17-yard line, Bears strong safety Major Wright blitzed and Griffin ran to his left to avoid the sack. Stumbling, Griffin held the ball away from his body and continued to survey the defense, apparently trying to make a play.
He should have simply tucked the ball away, took the loss and moved on to the next play. Griffin fumbled as he was sacked by defensive end Israel Idonije. Peppers recovered at the Washington 8-yard line and two plays later, the Bears scored and took a 14-0 lead.
Hopefully for the Redskins and Griffin, an important lesson learned.
Griffin’s best throw of the game was a 16-yarder to Moss over the middle in the first quarter. He second best was an 11-yarder to Hankerson on a sideline route in the second quarter.
Although that was Hankerson’s only catch of the game, it was significant because he ran a tight route, beat the defender and was where he needed to be when Griffin rolled to that side and looked for him.
Beginning his second season, Hankerson is much more confident than he was as a rookie. Moreover, he’s proving to be a reliable receiver.
Last season, Shanahan overused Moss because he had no choice. Moss, who is in his 12th season, wore down and couldn’t get separation from defensive backs late in games. It would be ideal if Shanahan could limit Moss to 20-25 snaps. The emergence of Hankerson could help make that happen.
A four-man race in backfield
Against the Bears, Morris, a sixth-round pick from Florida Atlantic, did exactly what he has done throughout training camp: Make one cut, hit the hole and pick up yards. On Washington’s first play from scrimmage, Morris located the seam on the left side and dragged three defenders for what resulted in a 21-yard gain.
On another play, Morris gained three yards after the initial hit by falling forward and stabilizing himself with his left hand before he was eventually dragged down. Shanahan wants his backs to do three things primarily: Read blocks correctly, make one move and hit the hole (no dancing back there) and pick up blitzes. Morris impressed in two of the three areas. Shanahan turned to Evan Royster on third down, so Morris didn’t have an opportunity to work on pass protection.
That’ll come. Veteran Tim Hightower and second-year backs Royster and Roy Helu had better keep working. A rookie is closing on them.
The return of “speedy” Banks
Generously listed at 5 feet 7, Banks struggles to beat coverage. Taller defensive backs (that would be all of them) break up passes intended for Banks, who is not strong enough to get inside position on patterns.
The Redskins are expected to have six receivers on the roster for the season opener against the New Orleans Saints. At this point, Moss, Pierre Garcon, Hankerson, Josh Morgan and special-teams standout Anthony Armstrong are the top five. Banks just may have locked up the sixth spot when he fielded a punt at Washington’s 9-yard line with 1 minute 50 seconds to play in the first half. He briefly followed his blockers and then broke to the right sideline, outrunning the Bears into the end zone.
Again, Banks proved he has game-changing ability in the return game. That’s probably enough to keep him around to start another season.
For Jason Reid’s previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/reid.