As rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III’s NFL education continues, Redskins coaches are looking for improvement in his reaction time.
They understand that the rookie still is adjusting to facing faster, stronger athletes and more complicated coverages and blitzes. So the mastery will take time, coach Mike Shanahan says.
Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan have scripted practices to put Griffin in as many game-type situations as possible. Unlike rookie mini-camp and training camps past, the Redskins haven’t run many 7-on-7 drills (featuring linebackers and defensive backs versus tight ends and receivers, but no linemen on either side of the ball). Instead, the bulk of practice is dedicated to 11-on-11 action with downs and distances kept and plays radioed into Griffin’s helmet by Kyle Shanahan.
The hope is the faster paced practice will better prepare ready for the regular season.
“You try to simulate all game situations out there in practice,” Mike Shanahan explained. “That’s why you practice just like you’re in a game. Sometimes you might have a little bit more time than other times. Some times you’ve got to react a little bit quicker. Is it a three-, five-, seven-step drop? Is it first down? Second down? We try to put him through all those scenarios so on game day, he’s ready to play.”
Griffin hasn’t yet developed consistency in getting rid of the ball quickly. He does at times, and when decisive, he executes at a high level. There are times when Griffin displays hesitation, however, while apparently facing the dilemma of whether to wait longer for a receiver to get open, throw the ball away, or tuck the ball and run.
Shanahan dismissed concerns over Griffin’s timing because, saying it’s still early in the preseason, and Griffin is indeed a rookie.
“This is the first week. We’ve practiced for one week,” Shanahan said. “Three years from now, he’ll probably have it. That’s usually how long it takes. It takes some time. Sometimes, depending on your supporting cast, it’s a little bit easier than other times, but you try not to throw all the pressure on the quarterback coming in.”
At Baylor and in these training camp practices, Griffin has excelled at throwing on the run – which the Redskins like to do a lot, with a variety of roll-outs and bootlegs. Gaining comfort on reads and passes off drop-backs poses a bit more of a challenge. And so, the Shanahans continue to put Griffin in those situations to help him grow.
“The toughest situation is drop-back, third down situations, when you’re trying not to get behind the eight ball,” Shanahan said. Griffin is being given “a lot of second-and-15, third-and-long situations that you’re trying to get a quarterback ready, and he’s only had so many reps to get a feel for the system, especially the first week. But we’re constantly going to try to put him in different situations to get him well-prepared for the game.”