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Robert Griffin III's willingness to change game a smart, mature move

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Robert Griffin III is willing to adapt his game going forward. (USATSI)
Robert Griffin III is willing to adapt his game going forward. (USATSI)

RICHMOND, Va. -- Of all the wonderful things that Robert Griffin III did during a fantastic rookie campaign for the Redskins in 2013, few stand out quite like his breath-taking, game-sealing, 76-yard touchdown run against the Vikings in Week 6.

Of course, of all the mistakes Griffin made, few stand out like the hits he took when he tried to make too many plays. It should come as a relief, then, that Griffin's learned going forward he might need to adjust his game, expressing a willingness to do so during his appearance Wednesday at Redskins training camp.

"The goal is longevity in the league, you also want to win," Griffin said. "So as a quarterback, I don't like to conform and say you can't win outside the pocket. I think you can win outside the pocket, you've just got to be smart about it. That's what I learned over the past six months about myself. It's about what we need to do to win.

"Maybe that's keeping me in the pocket a little bit more. Maybe that's throwing the ball away a little bit more, sliding, doing all those things that are necessary."

RG3's 100 percent correct on this. One of the things that really stood out last year when it came to a different, speedy quarterback in Russell Wilson was the intelligence the Seahawks quarterback displayed in avoiding contact on runs. That's not to say Griffin wasn't as smart, per se, as Wilson -- maybe brave is a better word -- but he certainly didn't avoid contact as often.

Realizing when and where he can take bigger hits and how to save his body will do Griffin a world of good in 2013 and moving forward, and that's something he seems to grasp now.

"If it's the second game of the season, you know, I think I proved how tough I am and the heart that I have on the football field and my teammates know that," Griffin said. "But if it's the second game of the season, and it's third-and-four and I've got two yards I might just run out of bounds and slide, if I have to.

"If it's the Super Bowl, I'm going to get those two yards. That's just the way you have to think, that's the way I think now."

No one wants to wrangle in Griffin's athleticism. His ability to make defenders miss and keep plays alive with his feet is one of his best attributes. But taking too many hits while utilizing his legs isn't exactly maximizing the efficiency with which Griffin can play.

And speaking of efficiency, let's not act like Griffin is some one-trick pony who can only run the ball. The sight of him limping to the sideline against the Seahawks during the playoffs was brutal, but he still throws one of the prettiest and most accurate deep balls in all of the NFL.

Pro Football Focus charted Griffin with a 50 percent accuracy rate on passes 20 yards or more down the field in 2012, throwing seven touchdowns and just one interception in his 36 attempts.

This is a guy who can sling it deep and drop dimes on his receivers when they're open. In fact, Griffin's game is pretty well rounded as a whole. He's one of two quarterbacks in NFL history who completed more than 65 percent of his passes during his rookie season (along with Ben Roethlisberger).

When you put the whole package together? No one's ever done what Griffin did in 2012 -- he's the only quarterback in NFL history to complete 65 percent of his passes, throw 20 touchdown passes, pass for 3,000 yards and run for another 750.

That's the beauty of his mental maturation, provided he can apply it on the field. Griffin can continue to pile up ridiculous and do so more efficiently by avoiding potentially season-ending injuries.

 
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