COMMENTARY | On Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, the Washington Redskins picked up their first win of the 2013 season with a 24-14 victory. While statistically Robert Griffin III played well, we have still yet to see the former Heisman Trophy winner get back to his old self in 2013.
Statistically, you'd be convinced that I'm crazy in saying that. Griffin has thrown for 975 yards and five touchdowns through four games and he's probably been fairly productive for your fantasy team. In fact, Griffin was one of just three quarterbacks in the NFL to throw for over 300 yards in the first three weeks of the season. However, most of those yards came in garbage time when the points didn't really count since the Redskins were well behind.
The first sign that we haven't seen the old RG3 actually comes in the stat sheet. Through the first four weeks of the 2012 season, he carried the ball 41 times for four touchdowns, 234 yards and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. After four games in 2013, Griffin has just 15 carries with zero touchdowns and 62 yards for an average of 4.1 yards. It is fair to say that Griffin hasn't been given the ability to create, but at the same time you can't place all the blame on the coaching staff.
Take the second half of Sunday's game against the Raiders, for instance. The Raiders' front seven was able to put some serious pressure on Griffin and forced him out of the pocket a number of times. Instead of stepping up and running with the ball, Griffin moved east and west across the field and ended up throwing the ball out of bounds. In 2012, an instance like that would have provided a classic RG3 highlight. Instead, it's an incompletion.
When you watch Griffin on the field, something just doesn't seem quite right. The tools are still there and so is the potential, but it's just not coming through in his performance. At times, Griffin seems tense with the ball and is more focused on making the right decision rather than making the play. He gives the ball to Morris more on the read-option rather than keeping it himself and making a big play happen.
I wouldn't say that Griffin is scared, but I would say that he is being more cautious. All offseason long, he heard from the coaches and the media that he needs to protect himself for the better of his career. While it's great that he listened, is it possible that he's let it get to his head to the point where it's changed the way he plays the game?
The offense revolves around his athletic ability and creativity. Numerous times last season did we see him call his own number on a read-option or passing play and pick up the necessary yards. This season, he's more willing to stand in the pocket or give up the ball to running back Alfred Morris on a read-option play.
In case he still mentally questions his knee, he's got two weeks until he needs to use it again. As a whole, by no means did the Redskins look perfect on Sunday. If they want to find success against the Cowboys in two weeks, they'll need to correct a lot of the same mistakes that many have called to fix since Week 1.
For Robert Griffin III, he's got two weeks to find his old self. After the bye week, the Redskins will play the Cowboys, Broncos and Bears, in that order. If the same RG3 that has shown up to play thus far shows up then, the Redskins could be in some big trouble.
Brian Skinnell is a freelance journalist that also writes for RantSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter, @Brian_Skinnell.
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- Robert Griffin III
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