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.

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