RG3 is Redskins’ most accurate passer since Baugh

With all the focus on Robert Griffin III’s running ability, it

can be easy to forget that he’s having the most accurate season for

a Washington Redskins quarterback since Sammy Baugh.

In this case, speed and precision go hand in hand.

”Sometimes I think the play’s over,” said offensive

coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who calls the plays, ”and I’m ready to

look down for my next call – and he’s still making it happen, still

running around doing stuff. I’m learning from that. I think the

receivers are learning from that, just knowing that whatever

happens, you’ve always got a chance.”

Through his first 11 NFL games, Griffin has completed 67.5

percent of his passes, trailing only Alex Smith (70), Matt Ryan

(68.5) and Peyton Manning (67.7) among regular starters. The only

Redskins quarterback with a better percentage for an entire season

is the legendary Baugh, who hit 70.3 percent in 1945.

In the two games since the bye week, Griffin has the same number

of incompletions as touchdowns (8). He also had one interception to

bring his season’s tally to four, a turnover-stinginess rate

exceeded only by Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger.

Coaches say Griffin’s ability to buy time under pressure gives

his receivers more time to get open. Also, the threat of him

running the option sometimes freezes defensive backs, leading to

blown coverages.

”I think whenever you can make a lot of plays with your legs,

you don’t feel the pressure that you have to make some bad

throws,” Shanahan said. ”Some guys who can’t make plays with

their legs, if it’s not there, they don’t have much other option

than to take a sack, so some guys will just let it go and throw it

away.

”Robert, if the play’s not there and it doesn’t work, there’s

another option -and that option is him running and making a

play.”

Or, as head coach Mike Shanahan put it: ”You’ve got to be able

to make plays off-schedule.”

The return of Pierre Garcon from a foot injury and the overall

development of the receiving corps have also helped. One of

Griffin’s passes to Garcon in the 38-31 Thanksgiving win over the

Dallas Cowboys probably shouldn’t have been thrown – but Garcon

reached backward to snag the ball and ran for a 59-yard score.

Garcon is one of six players to catch a touchdown pass from

Griffin during the two-game winning streak that has Washington

(5-6) back in the hunt for the NFC East title heading into Monday

night’s game against the New York Giants (7-4).

”After the bye, I just told myself I have to trust these guys

out there,” Griffin said.

Griffin has also developed a solid rapport with Kyle Shanahan.

They talk on Saturdays to discuss Griffin’s comfort level with the

week’s playbook and will throw a play out if the rookie isn’t

comfortable with it – although Griffin says he tries not to make

such a request very often.

On game days, Griffin frequently knows what play is coming

before Kyle Shanahan calls it.

”It’s getting that way,” Griffin said, ”where I can take the

words out of his mouth.”

RG3 also remains spot-on in front of a camera. His weekly

appearance before reporters Wednesday was its usual treat of

laugh-lines and anecdotes.

– On having numerous endorsements despite not having a ”Madison

Avenue look”: ”It could be a changing of the tide, you never

know. Of course, I’m not `clean-cut,’ `fade,’ `bald-head’ – I got

hair. I mean, that’s just what it is, and it shows people that

maybe there is a changing of the guard. It’s not always about what

you look like, it’s about what you represent.”

– On having to be politically correct in politically charged

Washington, D.C.: ”My politically correct answer is `no comment’ a

lot of times.”

– On hobbled left tackle Trent Williams: ”If he needs me in the

training room with him, I’ll be there. I’ll rub on his leg,

whatever he needs me to do. … On the field, during the game,

he’ll get up and he’ll start grabbing something, and I’ll look at

him, and I’ll go back to the huddle because I know he’d better get

his butt in the huddle because we’ve got to go to the next

play.”

– On a conversation he had with linebacker London Fletcher on

the sideline following a big drive during the fourth quarter of the

win over the Cowboys: ”It’s gut-check time – and we definitely

checked their gut.”

That one caused a hearty round of laughter. After it died down,

he smiled and said: ”I’m good for one every time.”

Notes: Williams did not practice due to a deep left thigh

bruise, the result of being kneed by teammate Kory Lichtensteiger

against the Cowboys. Williams doesn’t usually wear thigh pads, but

now: ”I’m definitely going to have something protecting my thighs

this game.” … Fletcher (left ankle) also did not practice and

was wearing a brace and limping noticeably as he left the locker

room. … Mike Shanahan said he didn’t have to speak to Brandon

Banks about Banks’ decision to return a punt from the end zone

against Dallas. ”Obviously, he made a bad decision … My wife

told me that wasn’t a good decision,” Shanahan said. … The

Redskins released LB Darryl Gamble from the practice squad.

Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and

http://twitter.com/AP-NFL