Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith is brimming with praise for Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and how Washington’s coaching staff has prepared him. Smith, whose team will face the Redskins at FedEx Field on Sunday, said the Falcons have their work cut out for them as they try to neutralize the dual-threat quarterback.
“Oh my gosh, he’s very impressive,” Smith said in a conference call with Redskins beat writers Wednesday. “Through the first four games, to see a guy throw and run the way he’s running and throwing the football is very impressive. His ability to come in here and basically be one of the top five quarterbacks through the first quarter of the season in terms of quarterback rating is just unbelievable.”
Griffin’s passer rating of 103.2 ranks fourth in the NFL after four games. The rookie has completed 69.4 percent of his passes for 1,070 yards and four touchdowns and one interception.
Washington’s offense ranks third in the NFL in total yards (1,687), fourth in points (30.8) and first in rushing yards (175.5).
“He’s leading an offense that’s very effective in running the ball – not only with traditional plays, but zone plays that coach [Mike] Shanahan basically made a staple in this league when he was with the Denver Broncos,” Smith said. “The spread option stuff as well. It’s going to be a big challenge for us this week. Super impressed with [Griffin].”
Smith is entering his fifth season as coach of the Falcons. He kicked off his tenure by drafting Matt Ryan third overall in 2008 and prepared the Boston College product to succeed from Day 1. The Falcons went 11-5 and reached the post-season with Ryan as a rookie.
Smith said he likes the approach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan have taken in coaching Griffin and assembling the Redskins’ offense this season.
“I think you have to play to their strengths and define what they’re strong at,” Smith said. “I think that’s what coach Shanahan and Kyle have done with Robert Griffin III. They’re going to identify his strengths and try to play to them and not put him in situations where he can’t be successful. I think that’s important with a rookie. You want not necessarily a rookie quarterback. You want rookie players that have as much success as you can because it’s a very steep learning curve in the NFL – especially at the quarterback position.”