John Keim | ESPN.com
ASHBURN, Va. — Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan does not want Robert Griffin III to become just a pocket passer. That doesn’t mean Shanahan believes Griffin couldn’t handle the job.
But Shanahan knows the threat Griffin’s legs pose and how much he powers the offense because of them. He also said it’s why Griffin’s ceiling is so high. He also said Griffin could develop into as well-rounded a quarterback as there is in the NFL.
“I don’t want him to be Peyton Manning,” Shanahan said. “I want him to be Robert. What’s good about Robert is he’s capable of having qualities like Peyton Manning. He can be a great passer. He already is a good thrower.”
I don’t want him to be Peyton Manning. I want him to be Robert. What’s good about Robert is he’s capable of having qualities like Peyton Manning. He can be a great passer. He already is a good thrower.
— Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan
The more Griffin plays this season, the more he returns to his 2012 pre-knee injury form. He’s taking off on more runs, whether on scrambles or out of the zone read. Against San Diego two weeks ago he dived for a crucial first down between two defenders late in the third quarter. Against Minnesota last week he scrambled for 13 yards and finished with a dive at the goal line, getting smacked by four defenders.
Those are plays pocket passers won’t attempt to make, partly because they can’t and also because they’re more trained to get rid of the ball.
“He hasn’t had those reps since he was 6 years old like somebody like Peyton has,” Shanahan said. “Robert’s always been able to run. He’s always been able to get away from trouble, and when you can do that your entire life and make plays, you don’t have to sit in there as much and throw.”
Griffin lost an entire offseason to work on developing as a passer because of his knee surgery. The coaches are anxious for him to get a full offseason of work in this area, saying it’s difficult to focus entirely on this aspect during the season.
“He’s more than capable of being a great thrower, and the more he works at that, he can be as well-rounded and have more weapons than anybody does,” Shanahan said. “I don’t think someone like Peyton or Tom Brady can say, ‘Hey if I just keep working on my zone read maybe I can have a little bit of Robert’s game, too.’ They have no choice. They have to be what they are.
“Robert has a choice and he can win a game with his legs, he can win it with his arms, and the more he plays, the more situations he gets put in, the more he’ll be capable of being great in all areas. That’s why I think the ceiling on him is so big.”
Griffin remains a work in progress in the pocket. But his passing numbers have improved in the last four games, finishing three of them with a passer rating of at least 86.8. In the first five games he had three games under a 78 rating. For the season, he has thrown 12 touchdowns to nine interceptions — four more than in 2012 and has a pedestrian 83.8 rating compared to a 102.4 rating.
“I think he’s going to get a lot better going through this year right now — fighting through some of the stuff he’s fought through,” Shanahan said. “I think it will lead him into a great offseason and I think Robert is going to have a hell of a career.”
- Covered the Redskins for the Washington Examiner and other media outlets since 1994
- Authored or co-authored three books on the Redskins and one on the Cleveland Browns