Robert Griffin III wasn’t sharp as the defense outplayed the offense in Thursday’s wet first session.
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett seemed a step ahead of offensive coordinator Sean McVay in play-calling. Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo sure looked like he deserved the franchise tag while making several good moves rushing the passer. Although the rain and the slick field often hampered receivers while route running, the defense got it done.
“As an offense, we weren’t as efficient as we wanted to be today all around, including ourself,” Griffin said afterward. “But it’s a good thing to have to work through the rain and have to throw those wet footballs, have to catch those wet footballs, have to work on [handing off to running backs]. All those things.”
Griffin’s biggest problems? The pass rush and poor timing with receivers.
The offensive line struggled to protect Griffin. Even though quarterbacks are not hit in practice, Griffin would likely have been sacked multiple times in game conditions.
He often had to sidestep the rush, disrupting the rhythm of plays. On one, DeSean Jackson beat the defensive back on a deep route and was open for a potential big gain.
Griffin, with several defensive players converging on him, didn’t throw when he should have. The ball hung hung up in the air and Jackson couldn’t come up with it.
The rain didn’t help, either. Many quarterbacks dislike throwing wet footballs — Hall of Famer Troy Aikman hated it — and Griffin definitely would rather work in better weather conditions.
The slow start did nothing to temper Griffin’s enthusiasm about his fresh start under Coach Jay Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay, previously Washington’s tight ends coach. Just in case anyone had forgotten, Griffin’s favorable comments about Gruden and McVay served as a subtle reminder that he wasn’t happy under former coach Mike Shanahan and his play-caller son, Kyle.
“It’s really just a good thing to have two coaches who believe in you,” Griffin said. “Sean and Jay have done a great job. They’ve given me a lot on my shoulders. I cherish that. You want to be asked to do more. Or at least do the bare minimum.”
You don’t have to be an ace investigator to read between those line: Griffin feels liberated. His teammates have noticed.
“The stress is kind of off … worrying about a head coach, if you don’t know about if he really likes you, if he doesn’t like you, things like that,” top cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “From the jump, I think Robert kind of knew that Jay wanted [him] … and that he can be special. We all see that.”
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