“They’re not going to hit you in practice, because you want to get those reps throwing the ball. I’ll see whether things open up a lot more with the pass rush or whether things get clogged up a lot more. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.”
Griffin likely won’t play long enough to amass eye-opening statistics. The Redskins could be missing three-fifths of their starting line, so the Shanahans probably won’t call too many of those seven-step drop plays with long-developing patterns that require fortress-like pass protection to work.
This game is not about the numbers for Griffin. If he continues to project the same type of confidence he has in practice, “that would be important because it really is all about the games,” said inside linebacker London Fletcher, who has played in an astounding 224 straight since debuting with the St. Louis Rams way back in 1998.
“With Robert, we’ve all seen the things he can do in practice, and you definitely get excited about that as a football team,” Fletcher said. “But you know he’s a rookie, and rookies have their ups and downs, so you want to get to the games to see how he responds.”
There’s no need for alarm if Griffin overthrows open receivers or fails to see some running uncovered. And even if Griffin makes all the right moves, he shouldn’t book Pro Bowl travel arrangements quite yet. It’ll get harder.
For fans, excitement should come from witnessing the beginning of something potentially wonderful. That’s it. After all, over the past two decades, how often have the Redskins had anything worth celebrating?
“I’m a little bit more realistic than other people only because you’ve gone through it a number of times with different people,” Shanahan said. “You want them [young quarterbacks] to be able to believe in themselves. You want them to have that arrogance like they are the best at what they do. The great ones do have that confidence level.”
The Redskins believe Griffin can become great. Come Thursday, he’ll get his first chance to start proving it.
For previous columns by Jason Reid, visit washingtonpost.com/reid