The straight-line speed and lateral explosiveness that helped Robert Griffin III earn rookie of the year honors in 2012 is back, according to Sean McVay, the Redskins’ offensive coordinator.
“I don’t think there’s any question—he looks explosive. He looks like he is exactly what he was in the 2012 season,” McVay said on ESPN980 recently.
Griffin rushed 120 times for 815 yards and a 6.8-yards per carry average two seasons ago. But after undergoing major knee surgery in Jan. 2013, he returned to the field sporting a bulky, hinged brace that put a drag on his ability to elude defenders while also negatively impacting his throwing mechanics. As a sophomore, Griffin rushed 86 times for 489 yards and a 5.7 yard average in 13 games. His completion percentage also suffered.
Although Griffin has always downplayed the significance of the brace (asked recently about shedding it, he said only, “It’s just better this year not to have it”) McVay believes ditching the protective device could make all the difference for the third-year quarterback.
“I think people underestimate when you have a brace on your knee how much that truly restricts you,” McVay said. “So I think being able to take that off, he looks extremely explosive.”
The Redskins are expected to call fewer designed runs for Griffin this season as first year head coach Jay Gruden attempts to reduce the wear-and-tear on Griffin while also honing his pocket passing skills. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be occasionally treated to flashes of the pre knee injury Griffin—particularly now that he’s not wearing the brace.
“When you are a quarterback that has the ability to kind of buy time with your legs, keep your eyes downfield and then if guys are playing with their back to the quarterback, now he’s got a chance to take off and run it and create yards that way,” McVay added. “So I think that’s going to be a big part of what he does and he’s continuing to get more and more comfortable, feeling some of those soft spots in the pockets, and being able to remain a passer while also understand that hey, I do have this elite trait with my legs and athleticism, that if things do break down that I can create that way also."