“He’ll start to see that there’s only a certain amount of times where you should even try to extend those plays. If you feel like you can throw the ball away, and especially if you have more downs, then you do that. If it’s third down and you don’t have that chance, okay, then try to make something out of it. If it’s right.”
Essentially, it comes down to determining the right moment to charge or retreat. It’s just a feel for the situation, quarterbacks say; there’s really no textbook time to try something risky in hopes of helping your team. If quarterbacks go for it, though, they do so with the understanding that unwise choices could result in game-changers for opponents.
Jason Campbell has been there. Earlier in his career, Campbell, the Redskins’ starting quarterback from 2006 to 2009, also waited too long for passing plays to unfold. During the 2007 season, he fumbled 13 times, losing eight, mostly because defensive players knocked the ball from his hand while he stood in the pocket. Making quicker decisions, and giving up on ineffective plays in a timely manner, helped Campbell reduce his turnovers. In 2008, opponents recovered only one of Campbell’s seven fumbles.
The road to improvement seems simple “but it’s not, because you’re trying to do it against guys trying to kill ya each week,” Campbell, now a Bears backup quarterback, said in a phone interview. Campbell chatted with Griffin before the Redskins-Bears game and is convinced that Griffin will “get it figured out. He’s a real down-to-earth guy and they tell me how hard he works. So with a guy like that, and you know he has the talent, you just have to give him the time.”
Griffin says his first instinct will be to make a play, because “once you stop trying to make a play, that’s when you start playing with fear. I’m not going to play with fear.”
That’s definitely not what Coach Mike Shanahan wants. He paid a steep price to draft Griffin and has encouraged him to be himself “off schedule,” which means Shanahan wants him to try to make plays “when there’s nothing there.”
But, Shanahan added, “you have to understand there’s people behind you and ball security is number one. It’s a fine balance.”
Griffin and the Redskins are walking a tightrope. They’ll either make it across — or fall together.
For Jason Reid’s previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.