If Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is going to compete for Comeback Player of the Year honors, he needs to learn a simple baseball slide and straighten out the footwork flaws in his throwing motion.
Griffin absorbed too many hits from the Cleveland Browns' defense in Monday night's 24-23 preseason victory, failing to get out of bounds or slide seamlessly in front of oncoming tacklers. He gave his coaching staff a brief scare when he got up limping after one particularly ineffective "slide" attempt.
In his postgame presser, coach Jay Gruden acknowledged "a little bit" of concern about RGIII's inability to protect himself.
Although Griffin finished 6-of-9 passing for 112 yards and an interception, the numbers are misleading.
As we pointed out last week, his footwork issues from last season have not been remedied. He threw flat-footed and faded back several times -- habits that were nonexistent during his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2012.
There has never been a doubt that Griffin has the physical tools to succeed in the NFL. If he doesn't hone his mechanics and learn how to protect himself from vicious hits, though, the keys to the franchise are going to end up in someone else's hands.
Here's what else you need to know from Monday's game:
- Browns coach Mike Pettine can't justify handing over the keys to the offense for another week. Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer remain locked in a battle of futility. Both were severely outplayed by Connor Shaw, who might not be on the roster in two weeks.
- If Monday's workload is any indication, Ben Tate is the Browns' clear lead back. Tate rushed 10 times in the first half for 51 yards compared to one carry and two yards for rookie Terrance West. We still expect West to take a sizable piece of the backfield pie as the season goes along.
- Cleveland's receivers left a lot to be desired. Josh Gordon had a pair of drops in a nonchalant performance. Miles Austin didn't draw a single target.
- The Redskins' new wideouts were a bright spot, on the other hand. Andre Robertshauled in a bomb, DeSean Jackson made a couple of plays and rookie Ryan Grant hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass. The favorite for No. 4 receiver duties, Grant has shown impressive route running and the ability to get open throughout training camp.
- We can probably put the non-story of Alfred Morris' improved receiving skills to rest. He's not going to have a significant role in the passing game -- nor should he.
The latest "Around the League Podcast" recaps all of the action from the second week of the preseason.