Preseason opener no mere tuneup for RG3

Regardless of how long Redskins QB Robert Griffin III play against the Browns Thursday night, he needs to show good form. More from Breaking Burgundy's Chris Russell.

The Redskins preseason opener is almost here. Thursday night in Cleveland - you will finally get to see some of the characters that will formulate the script for 2015. Yes, including starting quarterback Robert Griffin III

You won't get to see them for long but if it were up to me, you would see them longer than what has been publicly revealed by Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden.

"We'll play it by ear, see how we do," Gruden told reporters on Wednesday morning in Richmond before the Redskins flew to Akron, Ohio. "Obviously, if we got three-and-out, we'll bring them back out for another series or two. If we have a long touchdown drive, that could be it."

Gruden was speaking about his first team offense and clearly that is the unit that needs more work in this opening tune-up. Griffin.

Here's what I would do and what I believe the Redskins should do Thursday night:

Robert Griffin III should play four series against the Browns. Even if the Redskins offense struggles, I would leave it at that, although I would be open to a fifth series. The other side of that is if the Redskins offense looks good Thursday night, I could live with three series.

I don't go by quarters because the coaches have no idea how the script is going to play out. I believe they tell you an approximate plan just to give the media and fans something, but in reality they go by snap count and for the quarterbacks, an attempt or pass concept count.

I want to see to see Robert Griffin III throw the ball 12-14 times, even though my sense is that is unrealistic to expect.

Why? Because Griffin III desperately needs the work against a real, live defense in pads that more importantly can actually touch the quarterback.

No - I don't want Griffin to get hurt. sacked or to take a beating. The point is, I want him to show how much his mechanics have improved against a real live pass rush. I want to see his decision-making, his accuracy and if his timing is any quicker when he doesn't have a "don't touch me" jersey on his back.

This is crucial because a quarterback changes his approach and therefore mechanics when it is not a completely controlled environment like practice is.

I am fine with check downs. I am good with screens and a mostly pass based offensive game plan on Thursday night, because that is where the questions exist. I know the Redskins will run the ball effectively during the season, because they will be committed to that type of attack.

I would also be very curious and want to see Griffin work with a mixed offensive line. I don't need to see Trent Williams play Thursday night. If he plays, I am good with a series and no more. I need to see Tom Compton and/or Willie Smith at left tackle and Arie Kouandjio at left guard because I think that will go a long way to helping Griffin speed up his clock.

If Griffin knows that he HAS to get rid of the ball in 2.4 seconds or less because he doesn't have Trent Williams and his normal comfort zone on the left side, that helps Griffin speed up the process. It's what Jay Gruden, Sean McVay and Matt Cavanaugh want him to do.

It may seem unfair but we are at a beyond crucial point in his development. You are not always going to be able to have everything the way you ideally want them to be.

Here's the bottom-line. Griffin is NOT a normal situation as a fourth-year starting quarterback. He's not Ben Roethlisberger who didn't play for the Steelers last Sunday night. He's not even Teddy Bridgewater of the Vikings, who played one series with six passing attempts in the Vikings preseason debut. He's not even Robert Griffin III. Or at least the 2014 version.

Remember last year when Griffin played one good series against the Patriots? He led his team to a field goal and that was it. He had a couple of throwing attempts and that was it. That was last year. This is now and while Griffin is still the starter, there is some question about his status moving forward.

A good performance, for more than just one series, could go a long way to shoring up his hold on the first-team offense.


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