Sliding a work in progress for Griffin

Sliding a work in progress for Griffin
September 24, 2013, 8:45 am
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Mike Shanahan on RG3's progress after Week 3

Much of what Robert Griffin III does on a football field looks fluid, instinctual and, in some ways, effortless. 

Except sliding to avoid contact. That, Coach Mike Shanahan acknowledged, remains a work in progress.

He practices “his sliding,” Shanahan said. “He actually [works on it] in practice. Not that he’s a great slider, but he’s getting better. He didn’t slide very much in college.”

Griffin’s first slide in Sunday’s 27-20 loss to the Lions looked reluctant and forced. On a read-option play in the third quarter, he pulled the ball and raced to his right. After a four-yard gain, Griffin dropped awkwardly to his bottom.

It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. Lions safety Glover Quin had Griffin lined up but was unable to deliver a blow.

Griffin’s fourth quarter slide, however, did not work. Instead of sliding feet-first, he dived headfirst at the end of a season-long 21-yard scramble. Griffin lost the ball as he hit the ground and the Lions recovered it.

So instead of being set up at Detroit’s 29-yard line with a chance to score the go ahead points, Griffin’s gaffe gave the Lions an opportunity the visitors parlayed into the winning touchdown.

“The quarterback dove forward rather than feet-first,” referee Ed Hochuli explained. “He was not down by contact. The ball came loose and it was a fumble recovered by Detroit.”

On Monday, Shanahan said Griffin is free to slide whichever way he wants. But he’s got to retain control of the football.

“Like I said after the game, I’ve had a lot of guys do it both ways,” Shanahan said. “A lot of people would rather go feet-first. Other guys want to get the extra yards and go face-first. Sometimes they feel a little more protected going headfirst. I told Robert he can do it any way he wants to. He just has got to hold onto the football if he goes face first.”

One of the themes of the offseason was Griffin learning to protect himself. Dipping out of bounds. Throwing the ball away. Getting down and sliding.

After Sunday’s defeat, it’s clear the second-year signal caller still has a ways to go, particularly when it comes to latter.

“He’s gotten better at it in practice,” Shanahan said. “He’ll continue to get better as he does it.” 

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