Responding to Garcon’s stance, Griffin nonchalantly said, “I love Pierre. If he wants to race, I’m more than willing to do that. Pierre’s going to be Pierre. I can’t do anything about what he says.”
He later added, “The knee brace is going to protect you, but I’ve gotten out of stuff this season just like I did last season when the pocket breaks down, and I don’t feel like it’s holding me back.”
Griffin didn’t deny he hasn’t played up to the standard he set last season. But not all of the struggles can be traced to the quarterback’s play, Griffin, Shanahan and his teammates insist.
Washington’s interior linemen have struggled with pass protection, and the team’s pass catchers have combined for a league-high 10 drops in two games. The Redskins own the NFL’s second-lowest success rate on third downs (23.8 percent, 5 for 21), and the defense has given up 71 points and 1,023 yards.
Just weeks after they entered the season as one of the favorites in the NFC East, the Redskins look like a shell of themselves and are one of two playoff teams from last season that do not yet have a win. (Minnesota is the other). Now they face slim odds to make the playoffs; no team since 2008 has reached the postseason after opening 0-2.
But Griffin insists the criticism hasn’t fazed him.
“People are going to pat you on the back and tell you how great you are, and when things turn south, people’s true colors come out,” he said. “For us, it’s just getting back to that grit. We run the ball, and we stop the run. That’s two things this team has always done, and this first two games, we haven’t done either of those very well or even had the chance to run the ball on offense because we’ve fallen behind so quickly. So I think that’s where we have to get our swagger back. Guys have to play free. We know our assignments. We know what we have to do. It’s about going out there and doing it.”
And just how can the Redskins get their swagger back?
“I can run more,” Griffin offered. “That’s fine. I’ll do whatever we have to do to win the game. That’s always been my mind-set. I’m the quarterback, and if I have to create that energy, if I have to spit a rap line in the huddle, sure, whatever. I’ll do it. Whatever it takes to get that energy.”
A year after averaging eight carries a game, Griffin has appeared hesitant to run. But Shanahan said the lack of the zone-read option attack can be traced to the Redskins’ inability to sustain drives and their having to play from behind and pass almost exclusively.
Griffin echoed those sentiments but says it must change.
“I’ll tell you what. If you told anybody we were going to throw the ball 49 and 40 times the first two games, they’d have thought you were stupid,” Griffin said. “So it’s not that I want to run more; it’s just I feel like that’s what we need. If that’s what it takes for us to win games, then I’m going to go and do that. It’s not like it was anything that I was like, ‘I’m going to shy away from that coming into the year.’ But like I said, if that’s going to spark us, I’m willing to do it.”
Shanahan said that the Redskins’ offense will evolve as the season progresses and eventually the unit will recapture its explosiveness from last season and Griffin again will be a dual threat.
“There’s only one way you get better in this game, and that’s through repetition, and the more repetition you get, the better off you do,” Shanahan said. “When you don’t have an offseason, like he didn’t, it’s really hard to get great in one specific area right away. But you figure, just in a couple games, what did he have, like five TDs and three interceptions in that two-minute attack? That goes for the season, that’ll be 40 TDs and 18 interceptions. Pretty good for a guy not having an offseason program. That’s not where we want to be. That’s not where he wants to be. But hopefully we can get back and run our normal offense, but we’re going to have to play much better collectively to do that.”