When the Robert Griffin III made his comeback from the reconstruction of his right knee, the Philadelphia Eagles represented the first live action that he faced since last January’s season-ending loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
The Redskins had opted to hold Griffin out of all preseason action because they wanted to keep the quarterback healthy. Coach Mike Shanahan hoped that practice reps would have been enough to get his signal caller back in the groove.
But Griffin got off to a rough start as he threw two interceptions and was sacked three times while completing 30 of 49 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns. He had five carries for 24 yards, but it was clear that the quarterback, despite returning to action, had yet to recapture the dazzling form from his historic rookie campaign. The Redskins fell behind 33-7 until a late rally that made the final score a more respectable 33-27.
Now 10 weeks later, Griffin will face the Eagles again, and Philadelphia’s coaches and defensive players are preparing for an improved player.
Griffin is coming off of two of his better performances of the season, having completed 47 of 69 passes (68 percent) for 572 yards and three touchdowns while throwing just one interception. Griffin also has regained explosiveness as a runner, although he still may not have totally returned to last season’s level.
“He seems like he’s a little bit back to his old self,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said during a conference call Wednesday morning. “Obviously, the first game we played him, he was coming off the injury and didn’t really take any live reps from what we understood going into our game, and that was really his first live reps.”
Having studied all of Griffin’s games since, Kelly says that he notices a difference in the quarterback and that he and Washington’s offense now are looking and playing better.
“Now that he’s got all those games behind him, I think he’s playing at a high level,” the coach said. “Their offense is ranked very, very high in every category — total offense, rushing offense, passing offense. He’s really playing at a high level right now.”
Griffin & Co. rank fifth in the NFL in total offense, averaging 410.4 yards a game. Washington boasts the third-best rushing attack (151.2 yards per game) and ranks 10th in passing (259.2 yards) and ninth in scoring (25.6 per game). The Redskins had struggled early on third downs, but now rank fourth in the league while converting 46.0 percent of their attempts.
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● Washington practices today at 1 p.m. Mike Shanahan and Griffin are expected to talk to reporters after practice.
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