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Running the Numbers: The Scoop on Robert Griffin III
In addition to beating defenses with his legs by way of 6.59 yards per carry (YPC) and six touchdowns on the season, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III has been one of the most efficient passers in the NFL in 2012. With 7.92 yards per attempt (YPA), a 101.0 passer rating, and an interception rate of just 1.1 percent – the league-average is more than double that – Griffin’s decision-making and pocket presence have been just as impressive as his mobility. Rookie or not, the Cowboys’ defense will face one of their stiffest challenges to date when RGIII comes to town on Thursday.
67.1: RGIII’s completion percentage.
Griffin’s completion percentage ranks him sixth in the NFL, just behind Tony Romo at 67.3 percent. That’s pretty impressive, but even more astounding is that Griffin is likely going to post the highest completion percentage by any rookie quarterback in NFL history with more than 60 attempts. Sitting at 67.1 percent, RGIII is 0.7 percentage points ahead of Ben Roethlisberger’s 66.4 percent completion rate from his 2004 rookie campaign. By the way, although he technically wasn’t a rookie, Romo’s 65.3 completion percentage in 2006 would rank him third in NFL history.
0: Number of rookies who have ever posted a higher passer rating than Griffin.
With 12 touchdown throws and only three picks, Griffin’s passer rating is superior to Roethlisberger’s 98.1 rating in his rookie year. Without even considering his rushing prowess, Griffin has certainly been one of the premiere rookie passers in the history of the league.
126.3: RGIII’s passer rating against the blitz.
While most rookie quarterbacks struggle to make plays in the face of pressure, Griffin has thrived. The rookie has seven passing touchdowns and only one interception against the blitz this year, posting a remarkable 9.82 YPA when defenses send more than four rushers. Perhaps even more telling is that Griffin has actually passed the ball on 84.8 percent of his dropbacks against the blitz, running on seven occasions and getting sacked on six others. Thus, despite possessing the ability to gash defenses on the ground, Griffin has generally chosen to stay in the pocket to allow time for his receivers to get open downfield.
131.3: Griffin’s passer rating on throws of 20-plus yards.
RGIII is already one of the best deep-ball passers in the NFL. Averaging 16.7 yards per deep passing attempt, RGIII has thrown a touchdown on one-fifth of all of his attempts of 20 or more yards. Nonetheless, the Redskins haven’t thrown deep often this season; Griffin has fewer deep passing attempts than all but one NFL starter (Alex Smith). As a comparison, Joe Flacco has thrown deep exactly three times as often as RGIII this year.
0: Number of quarterbacks who have thrown more play-action passes than Griffin.
Because of the offensive system the Redskins run, they often show play-action on their passing attempts. Read-option plays are the foundation of much of what they do, and the Redskins have plays that contain run-pass options after the play has begun, i.e. Griffin can hand off the ball, keep it himself, or throw it. Of Griffin’s 334 dropbacks, 123 have been play-action, 36.8 percent. In comparison, Romo is last in the NFL in play-action rate at 8.3 percent and the difference between him and the next quarterback, Kevin Kolb, is larger than the difference between Kolb and the next 17 quarterbacks.
11.5: RGIII’s YPA on play-action passes.
Due to the rookie’s rushing ability and Washington’s effective running game in general, Griffin has performed historically-well on play-action passes this year. Only Alex Smith has posted greater efficiency on play-action passes. And for the sake of comparison, consider that Peyton Manning, ranked sixth in the NFL in play-action rate, has recorded 10.9 YPA and a 114.3 passer rating on play-action looks. RGIII’s play-action passer rating is 115.4.
6.5: Percentage of RGIII’s runs that have been touchdowns.
It’s difficult to imagine that a quarterback who has been among the best rookie passers in NFL history could also be one of the best runners as well, but that’s the case with RGIII. Averaging 6.59 YPC, only C.J. Spiller has posted greater rushing efficiency than Griffin in 2012. Further, no player with as many carries as Griffin has as high of a touchdown rate. Ray Rice is second at 4.3 percent.
And if that weren’t enough, RGIII, the player ranked in the top six in YPA, completion percentage, and passer rating, is also ranked in the top 20 in the NFL in rushing yards.