WASHINGTON — Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Robert Griffin III suffers an injury and is forced to leave the game.
Griffin took a beating in Thursday night’s preseason win over the Lions and eventually had to leave the game with a concussion after four series.
Left tackle Trent Williams did not play, and his backup, Willie Smith, was a revolving door on the left side. Along with that, the right side of the line is very young and inexperienced.
All that adds up to what we saw last night: Griffin had no time to really do anything, and it was evident from the start that this was not going to be a good night to grade the quarterback.
The numbers don’t lie: In four series last night, Griffin dropped back eight times; he was hit six times, sacked three times, fumbled twice and had a batted ball. Facing the kind of pressure he faced, nobody is going to succeed.
Some of the postgame blame was aimed at Jay Gruden. After the beating Griffin took, why did the coach send him out for that fourth series?
“We weren’t doing that well on offense,” Gruden said. “I wanted to get something going on offense. A lot of quarterbacks play into the second quarter in a preseason game. Football is a tough sport. We wanted to get something going offensively. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.”
I agree with Gruden on that front, and there’s no secret that Griffin needs to play with this offense to get in rhythm and keep progressing toward Week One against Miami.
It’s football; it’s part of the game, and being pressured while trying to protect yourself is part of the game as well. The only way for these guys to get better is to play. I get all of that.
That said, given the beating Griffin had taken in just three short series, I don’t know whether there was any way Gruden and the coaches were going to be able to evaluate the first-team offense. He should have pulled Griffin. At that point, it shouldn’t have been about trying to get something going, but about protecting him. The offensive line was very bad, and that wasn’t going to improve, so there was no need to draw any more attention to that.
So now what?
Next week is the all-important third preseason game — the one that teams generally treat most like a regular-season game. If Griffin can’t play, Gruden is going to have to make a tough decision. There’s no secret that Griffin is the starter, and Gruden said after the game that he would remain the starter. He will be given every opportunity to start the season and prove he is an NFL quarterback.
On the other hand, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy have both played well this preseason, and have made their cases to be the starting quarterback.
So, if Griffin were to miss the final two preseason games, would you put him out there week one against the Dolphins and Ndamukong Suh? Have you seen anything from this first-team offense yet that gives you any confidence that this team is going to be any different from the last two years?
It’s only Week Two of the preseason. Buckle up; this is going to get bumpy.