Robert Griffin III has done a better job of protecting himself this season, but there’s still some room for improvement, Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said.
In Thursday’s 34-27 loss to the Vikings, Griffin was sacked four times and hit eight times. What concerned Shanahan most, though, were two hits he absorbed at the end of runs in the first half.
On the first play, Griffin pulled the ball on a zone read look and gained eight yards to the right, but not before diving awkwardly forward and absorbing a glancing blow from safety Andrew Sandejo. On the other play, Griffin scrambled up the middle for a 12-yard gain. Again, he dived forward—this time in an attempt to cross the goal line—and took a stiff shot to his back from linebacker Chad Greenway.
“I think what you have to do is you have to learn how to slide, and he’s getting better at it, even though [Thursday], I think there [were] a few slides I think he’d like to have back,” Shanahan said. “I don’t think it’s natural for him yet. Head first or if he’s going to be feet first, he’s got to always protect himself.”
Referring specifically to the Greenway hit, Shanahan added: “I think [Griffin] was wanting to get in that end zone. I think it was wanting to get in, and kind of a semi-slide at the same time. But there’s three or four other situations during the game that you want him to improve in that area because you don’t want him to take those shots, and if he does take those shots there’s no way you stay healthy.”
Shanahan also noted that Griffin was forced to make an in-game adjustment on zone read fakes after getting drilled by defensive Jared Allen on the Redskins’ second offensive play from scrimmage. Although Griffin ultimately handed the ball to Alfred Morris, he still took a hard hit from Allen. After that early blow, Griffin was more cautious when carrying out his fakes the rest of the night.
“It was addressed during the game,” Shanahan said. “After Robert ran the first option, he didn’t carry out his fake anymore … because he knew Allen had it. I think you do it by habit in practice. You hand the ball off and if you continue to run, that defensive end or outside linebacker has a chance to hit you. After you hand the ball off, if you put your hands up where they see you don’t have it just like we did during the game, they can’t hit you. So it’s that simple. It was just that one shot that [Allen] took advantage of very early.”