COMMENTARY | Well that's it everybody. The long nightmare is over. After leading the Washington Redskins to a 45-41 win over the Chicago Bears, Robert Griffin III is finally playing like Robert Griffin III. What other conclusion can there be when you look at his 298 passing yards, two touchdowns, and 84 rushing yards? Griffin must be back!
That's what a lot of people were saying Monday and in some ways, they were right. Griffin improved upon last week's performance in Dallas and looked more comfortable with his legs. He threw for 298 yards with 18 completions out of 29 attempts and he did it when it mattered rather than in garbage time as in the first two games.
It was without question his best game of the season.
The stats and the win, however, mask what was a surprisingly shaky game through the air. The Bears had several opportunities to take control of the game and literally let them slip through their fingers.
Saying that Griffin is 'back' is a bit premature.
Griffin threw his sixth interception of the season midway through the first quarter, one more than he had in all of 2012. Griffin ran a play-action bootleg to his right then threw left to Leonard Hankerson. Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman was underneath the route and caught the easy interception. This was not a case of Tillman making a break on the ball or baiting Griffin into the pass, Tillman was essentially standing in front of Hankerson. All he had to do was jump up when the ball came to him. It was a bad pass that never should have been thrown.
Linebacker Lance Briggs almost picked off Griffin twice when Griffin somehow missed him playing underneath near the line. Both times Briggs stepped in front of the pass for the easy deflection, but he was not able to come down with the interception.
Balls can be batted at the line from time to time by lineman, but what makes this such an egregious mistake is that Briggs was standing almost directly in Griffin's line of sight. Griffin has to be aware of the underneath man when attempting to throw a bullet like he did and it seems almost unthinkable that he lost track of Briggs not once, but twice. All Briggs had to do was take one step and put his hands up. If he were able to bring down either pass it would have changed the game.
In the fourth quarter, Griffin went deep to Aldrick Robinson for a 45-yard touchdown pass to give the Redskins a 38-31 lead. Tillman again was in coverage, but misjudged the ball in much the same way Rahim Moore botched his coverage of Jacoby Jones in last season's AFC Championship, He jumped far too early completely missing the ball and the pass to fall neatly into Robinson's hands. It also helped that the safety covering Robinson stride for stride tripped and fell on the coverage. Maybe the safety could break up the play, maybe not; but if Tillman judges that play right, then he gets his second interception of the day.
This was bad play by the Bears, not a good one by Griffin.
Football truly is a game of inches and Sunday's game was no different. How different would the story be if Briggs pulls down either of those balls or Tillman gets that second interception? While it may not be fair to criticize Griffin for being lucky, there is a reason why Griffin threw only five interceptions in his entire rookie season; it was not just luck. Against the Bears he was more lucky than good.
Sunday was Griffin's best game of the season…on the ground, but he still does not look comfortable throwing. Until he can put both the air and ground game together, it is too soon to say that he's back.
With the steady improvement he has shown with each passing week, he may very well be 'back' by the next game. One bad interception and three close calls, however, mean he still has a ways to go.
JJ Regan is a freelancer for Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic and is currently earning his master's degree in journalism at American University. Follow him on Twitter @TheDC_Sportsguy
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Robert Griffin III
- Charles Tillman
- Lance Briggs
- Chicago Bears