IRVING, Texas -After missing a game due to a sprained right knee, rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III returned to action last Sunday to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-20. Griffin looked as sharp as usual through the air completing 16 of 24 passes for two touchdowns while posting a passer rating of 102.4.
However, there was one difference to his game. Griffin, normally an extremely dangerous runner, was hardly a part of the Redskins’ rushing attack. In the entire game against Philadelphia Griffin only ran the ball two times for a total of four yards. He is averaging just over seven rushes per game and has nearly 750 yards rushing on the season.
There was speculation that the Redskins chose not to run plays that asked Griffin to take off with his feet because his knee was not totally healed. However, on Wednesday Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan disputed this claim and said that it was simply coincidence.
“I don’t know if anyone’s 100 percent this time of year,” Shanahan said in a conference call with the Dallas-Fort Worth media. “But the doctors Ok’d him and said he was 100 percent ready to go and we had a little different game plan than we normally do so a lot of people believed that he really wasn’t full speed, but I believe that he was able to go full speed.”
Not quite contradicting himself, Shanahan later went on to say that the change in game plan did have to do with Griffin’s return.
“(We) didn’t want to put too much pressure on him that quickly,” Shanahan said. “Sometimes you’ll do one thing or another with the game plan. But I think you saw a couple times when he scrambled how well he scrambled. You can’t scramble like that if something’s wrong with you.”
If the sprained knee that Griffin suffered a few weeks back truly is preventing Griffin to take off and run against opposing defenses then it would obviously not be in Shanahan’s best interest for the Cowboys to be aware of that.
In the Redskins’ Thanksgiving Day victory over the Cowboys Griffin rushed the ball seven times for 29 yards including a couple crucial first downs. The threat of Griffin’s legs makes Washington a much more dangerous team. Without that threat defenses would be able to pay more attention to running back Alfred Morris and linebackers in coverage would be inclined to leave their designated man or area.
On the other hand, it is hard to imagine that the Redskins would play Griffin at all if his knee were preventing him from playing to the best of his abilities, especially considering how successful backup Kirk Cousins played in his absence.
Griffin’s mobility will be something to watch out for on Sunday night. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, if they gamble at all on the idea that he will remain in the pocket, Griffin might just make them pay.