August 15, 2012

RG3 Unspectacular But On Schedule in Preseason Opener

Week 1 of the preseason is less about analysis than it is celebrating The Return of NFL Football.  It is for reveling in the moment. It's about seeing your favorite team hit the field for the first time in a seeming eternity. As long as no key player goes down with serious injury, the preseason opener is largely ceremonial.

But now that the initial breathless"here we go" moment has passed, and we have seen with our own wondering eyes young QB Robert Griffin III, in a Redskins uniform, in live action, for the first time, it's time to take a deep breath and begin to narrow our focus.

In that spirit, here are some semi-serious (it is still preseason) thoughts after the warm fuzzies have faded from week one:

I thought much of the media reaction to RG3's brief appearance, particularly from the national media, was strangely over the top. To my eye, the man barely broke a sweat. Six pass attempts, one successful audible, zero drama.


To be sure, it was good to see him looking poised, standing tall in the pocket and delivering accurately. But until we begin building a meaningful sample size of kind of “off schedule” plays that head coach Mike Shanahan keeps talking about, and that are what is supposed to make Kid Bob special, we really won’t learn much about where RG3 is in his developmentnot so much in his physical development, but the mental side. The in-game, on-the-fly judgment side.

Until the first time he has to come back on 3rd-and-12, having just been smacked in the mouth and landed upon by an irritated 6'3", 315 lb. defensive tackle on second down, we won’t begin to see beyond all the shiny, seductive potential and into, shall we say, the afterglow reality.

Not to overstate the case, but with two brief nod-of-recognition exceptions, what I took from RG3's  brief debut was much ado about not much. The three completions he made to open WR's Pierre Garτon and Leonard Hankerson were throws I frankly expect any professional quarterback to make. He went through his progressions, yes, and that was noted and appreciated. But there was really nothing unusual to them, good or bad.

His best pass of the night, easily, was the sideline 3rd-down incompletion to Garτon that many feel should have been called complete. Friggin' faux zebras.  The throw showed true NFL accuracy and touch.

But even that one didn't really get my attention. Here's what did:

1) the one RG3 moment of the night that I might call "off schedule"the ad-libedb, off-platform incompletion to TE Niles Paul. On that one, Griffin III spun out of a break to his left to find an unblocked Bills defender in his face. He insitinctively stopped, twisted and snapped off an athletic, accurate throw in a flash that, if nothing else, turned a potentially bad play into a harmless one. I don't mind telling you that made me smile.

2) the WR screen that Garτon took to the house for the game's only TD. Why? Becuase RG3 made it look easy, and that is something that those who have watched Redskins quarterbacks struggle mightily for a generation can attest it was not. The pass may have only covered a few yards, but it was on time, well-paced and on target.

Professional, even.

Both of those plays showed me hints of what I have been looking in vain for in a Redskins QB for too many years to count—the ability to throw quickly and accurately, if necessary from improvised platforms, when the natural rhythm of a play breaks down or a quicker-than-normal release becomes necessary.

Or, put in more in-vogue terms ... off schedule.

All in all, the 2012 preseason opener was a satisfiying appetizer. Tasty, not too filling, whetting the appetite just so. With our palates now awakened, here's to a slightly more zesty second course, and further promise of what is to come, Saturday night against the Chicago Bears.

3 comments:

Cardas said...

Mark,

Far too long between posts brother...

Good Points all, but wearing the cloak of a cautious cynic is a new form for you. Then again, I suppose this is what 20 years of "meh" will do to a guy.

I have to agree, I felt much the same way... National media blew this up. I was mostly in the corner of "not too bad, would like to see more"

Audible thing was nice to hear.

Mark "Om" Steven said...

I'm on board with the "cautious" label, brother, but respectuflly quibble with "cynic." :)

Cynics are actively down on something--I am not down on Robert's performance, not one bit. I'm simplly not seeing justification for some of the more breathless assessments his performance.

Perhaps we can agree on "cautious optimist?"

aussieskin said...

Another good Post Mark, your a realist and you have shown me that RG3 is going to be good but with the vanilla offence that we have seen that could be some time off, however, he is the best QB this franchise has had since.....even at this early stage he shows poise and game book knowledge, I am expecting big things from him next season this season i just want him to get in tune and show us all he is worth the effort taken in getting him, and as Cardas said "Far too long between posts brother"