Can Robert Griffin III keep himself safe?

March, 20, 2013
3/20/13
1:50
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PHOENIX -- As Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III recovers from offseason knee surgery, the discussion about him focuses on the question of whether he can keep himself safe from further injury. The way he plays -- using his legs to extend plays or break down a defense -- lends itself to greater danger than that to which a more traditional pocket passer might be exposed. And the read-option offensive schemes the Redskins used in Griffin's rookie year necessarily expose quarterbacks to greater harm as well.

Griffin
For those reasons, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan says it's important for Griffin to work on ways of keeping himself safe on the field -- throwing the ball away when it's called for, sliding at the end of runs. These are things Shanahan believes Griffin hasn't had to do in the past, as he dominated at the college level, but can and will learn with experience.

And I think that's the important thing to keep in mind when we talk RG III -- that he's not a finished product. I don't think it's fair or safe to assume the offense the Redskins ran with him in 2012 is the one they plan to use for his entire career. I think it's entirely possible that he could flourish as a pocket passer and that the Redskins drafted him with that belief as well. Shanahan spoke Wednesday of the read-option's value as a psychological weapon against defenses, saying it doesn't matter how many times they run it in the game as long as the opponent has had to spend part of its preparation time worrying about it. Less read-option as Griffin's career progresses would not be a surprise.

Griffin is also a very intelligent young man who seems interested in having a long and successful career. I wouldn't be surprised if, come November, we're writing about ways in which his game looks to be evolving, with self-preservation taking a more prominent role. As Shanahan spoke of Griffin's need to keep himself safer, I didn't think he was expressing concern about whether he could.

In other Redskins news, the team has reached agreement on a contract with former Buccaneers cornerback E.J. Biggers, who could be the replacement for DeAngelo Hall or could be the No. 3 cornerback if the Redskins find someone else better in free agency or in the draft.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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