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Pass, flail: Redskins, Griffin heading wrong direction

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The Sports Xchange

Unless coach Jay Gruden audibles to a handoff, the future of the Washington Redskins remains in the hands of Robert Griffin III.

The options behind Griffin, Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins, were competent in stretches last season but neither is viewed as a long-term solution by the Redskins. First-year general manager Scot McCloughan took almost the entire allotment of time to weigh picking up Griffin’s option for 2015, a level of reticence that should have created resounding echoes.

There was sorrow in a somber locker room Thursday night when Griffin, sacked by the Detroit Lions three times in five snaps, left the field with his second documented concussion since being named Offensive Rookie of the Year over Andrew Luck. A sideline shoulder examination showed no concern over the stability of the joint.

The stability of the position is another story.

Three sacks, minus-8 passing yards and 16 total yards on four possessions from the first-team offense could be cause for panic, even in the preseason. First-round pick Brandon Scherff was bulldozed into the pocket on one of the sacks and on another throw Griffin did deliver, Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy obliterated him with a spear shot as Griffin let the ball go.

Griffin doesn’t sense pressure from the pocket. His instincts are to scramble, float toward open space, and the constant backpedaling out of harm’s way is becoming habit.

Collectively, there’s blame enough for the entire offense.

“It was not a very good performance for our first-team offense, to say the least,” Gruden said. “(But) Detroit was the No. 2-ranked defense in the league last year. They’re a good team, a very good defensive football team.”

Health could be a constant fear for the Redskins with Griffin. The offensive line was abysmal last season and without left tackle Trent Williams on Thursday, flaws were plentiful. On eight dropbacks, he was hit six times.

“Unacceptable,” was the review from Scherff late Thursday.

Gruden’s effort to create a game manager out of Griffin, a risk-averse checkdown passer, averts the obvious risks of cutting RG3 loose out of the pistol formation as a run-pass threat.

That style of offense produced the Heisman-winning Griffin. And the Rookie of the Year, playoff quarterback iteration, too.

It also brought the onslaught of ailments that threaten the future of the Redskins and their franchise quarterback who missed a total of 11 games the past three seasons, including seven in 2014. A torn ACL at Baylor; concussion in Oct. 2012; knee sprain (Dec. 9, 2012), torn ACL and MCL (Jan. 2013), dislocated ankle (Sept. 2014) and Thursday’s maladies (shoulder stinger, concussion).

Gruden needs an answer, and soon, to save his own hide and keep the Redskins out of the doormat classification in 2015.

He also needs to help himself.

Apparently following a preconceived script, the Redskins stuck with a deep drop on 3rd and 16 from their own 12-yard line on the play in which Griffin left the game. Griffin caught a shotgun snap only to be greeted by a mad rush in his face, fumbled and when he dove on the ball, Lions defensive end Corey Wootton plopped to meet him and landed on his shoulder.

“Football is a tough sport,” Gruden said in defending the decision to keep Griffin in the game despite the physical pounding evident on the first three drives. “We wanted to get something going offensively. Unfortunately it didn’t work out.”

A similar play resulted in a career-altering injury for Drew Brees in San Diego, opening the door for Philip Rivers to start and Brees to relocate to New Orleans in free agency.

If Griffin’s time is up in Washington, the crash that followed his meteoric rise becomes the lasting image of his Redskins’ career.


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