Praise continued Tuesday for Robert Griffin III’s performance in his NFL debut as well as the game-planning and play-calling by Washington Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan and his son Kyle, the team’s offensive coordinator.
“I’m not going to start pouring water on that fire,” former NFL quarterback Tim Hasselbeck said Tuesday when asked in a telephone interview about Griffin’s game Sunday. “But I do think his first six completions were at or behind the line of scrimmage. It would not tell the whole story to not acknowledge what Mike and Kyle did to help him out. They did a nice job with that. I know what a difference it makes to get some early completions. I think I once started a game oh for nine.”
Hasselbeck, now an NFL analyst for ESPN, was quick to add that Griffin certainly did his part.
“There was a lot of that at Baylor and he was good at it,” Hasselbeck said. “It’s not as easy as it sounds—getting the snap, finding the laces and getting the ball out quickly and accurately to the receiver. But there’s no read. You get the snap and get the ball out to the guy. That [the early play-calling] has to be acknowledged. After that, there was a lot of good stuff [by Griffin]. It was some of the same stuff you saw from him in college. It was impressive. There was a lot of stuff outside the design of the play that he was able to do.”
Hasselbeck pointed to Griffin’s 88-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Pierre Garcon in the first quarter and a fourth-quarter completion to tight end Logan Paulsen.
That throw over the middle to Paulsen gave the Redskins, who were protecting an eight-point lead, a 22-yard gain and a first down at their 39-yard line with just more than two minutes to play. The Redskins failed to get another first down and punted. But the Saints had only 22 seconds left on the clock and no timeouts remaining when they got the ball back at their 20-yard line. They moved to the Redskins 39 but quarterback Drew Brees’s last-gasp pass to the end zone was intercepted by Reed Doughty. The Redskins won, 40-32.
“The most impressive thing he did, to me, was when New Orleans was making that run at them and he completed that ball over the middle to Paulsen,” Hasselbeck said Tuesday. “They didn’t take the game out of his hands. They said, ‘We’re putting the ball in your hands and trusting you.’
“At the end of the day, people should be thrilled with how he played, and with the design for him.”