The Redskins have five games left in their season. They are averaging about 70 offensive snaps per game so they have about 350 more offensive plays to run this season.
Robert Griffin III needs to be the quarterback for every single one of those.
With the team’s playoff chances all but gone, there have been calls for Kirk Cousins to step in to protect Griffin from injury or to try to enhance Cousins’ trade value or to perhaps give them a better chance to win a game or two. But that would be a huge mistake. Griffin needs the work.
Griffin has shown this year that he has a lot that he has to work on. He needs to read defenses better, look off receivers, learn not to hold on to the ball for so long, when to run and when to pull up and throw, and to correct his maddening tendency to sail passes over to heads of wide open receivers, among other things.
To be sure, he will have a lot of time to work on those issues. He will have OTAs, minicamp, training camp and preseason games, all activities that he either missed completely or had only limited participation in this year.
But there is no offseason training that remotely resembles live snaps in NFL games that count. The intensity of regular season games simply can’t be matched. Lining up against your own teammates wearing helmets and shorts doesn’t come close to duplicating the speed of live reps against other teams who have studied for hours and hours trying to figure out how to stop you.
The regular-season snaps are particularly important because Griffin played in a relatively simple offense at Baylor. While other young quarterbacks like Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson were operating in pro-style offenses in college, Griffin was working in a scheme that did not require much in the way of reading defenses or other complex skills needed in the NFL.
“You need those repetitions,” said Mike Shanahan. “That’s why he’s going through these repetitions – to get better. He hasn’t had a lot of these repetitions in college, which we’ve talked about.”
From now until the start of the 2014 season, Griffin has 350 chances to take live NFL snaps. He will have 350 opportunities to read defenses, make decisions, work on whatever it is that has thrown his accuracy off. When they are gone, they are gone.
So far in his NFL career Griffin has 1,813 snaps under his belt. If he plays 350 more this year he will add about 20 percent to his resume. That is very significant.
If Griffin is going to be the best quarterback he can be in 2014, he needs all of the quality work he can get between now and next September. And the best quality work he can get is all of those remaining regular season snaps.