Look for Robert Griffin III to start running again.
This year’s RG3 suggested Wednesday that he’ll look more like last year’s RG3 when the Washington Redskins host the Detroit Lions this weekend. With his team opening the season with two bad losses, Griffin figures his legs can provide a spark.
"It’s not that I want to run more, I just feel like that’s what we need," Griffin said. "If that’s what it takes to win games, then I’m willing to do that."
Griffin has carried the ball only nine times for 25 yards in two games, and he’s yet to run the ball out of the zone read, the type of play that befuddled defenses and helped him set a rookie QB record with 815 yards rushing a year ago.
Explanations have varied. Griffin and coach Mike Shanahan point out that the offense was forced to abandon its game plans early in both losses because the team fell behind so quickly. Teammates say it’s understandable that Griffin is rusty or lacks his usual world-class speed because he didn’t play in preseason and is wearing a brace after offseason surgery on his right knee. Griffin has said he would prefer to be known more as a passing quarterback.
But when the season is in danger of falling off the rails in September, it’s time to think differently. Griffin, who is a team captain, said on Sunday that he might have to ditch his preferred method of positive reinforcement and lead with a harder edge, but by Wednesday he had decided his speed could speak as loud as his words.
"We just need energy out there on the field, period," Griffin said. "Especially on the road, the crowd’s not going to give you any energy, so I take it upon myself to be that guy. I’ve never been a hype man, but Lil John’s a Redskins fan, and you can learn a little bit from him, so I’ll be the hype man if they need me to be the hype man.
"I’ll get everybody motivated. That’s what you’ve got to do as a quarterback, you’ve got to motivate guys, you’ve got to inspire them to go play great. And if you feel like the team doesn’t have enough energy at the time, you create that energy, and that’s what we’re going to do. …. We’ve just got to get our swagger back."
Asked how he could create more energy, Griffin smiled and raised his palms and said: "Well, I could run more."
"I’m a quarterback,” he added. ”If I have to create that energy, if I have to spit a rap line in the huddle, sure, whatever, I’ll do it."
Griffin said his runs provided a boost for the team last year.
"But the one thing I can’t do, and the mistake I can’t make, is just to go out there and try to run," he said. "It’s not about just going out there and running to prove other people wrong or prove other people right or whatever you want to do. You have to do it when the time arises, and I haven’t had those opportunities the first two games, and hopefully I’ll get the opportunity in this game and there will be a spark for our team."
There’s been no particular campaign among Griffin’s teammates for him to run more. If anything, the opposite is true. The team’s problems — from dropped passes to missed tackles to silly penalties — go way beyond the performance of the franchise player.
"He just got to playing, man. I mean, this is only like his second preseason game," receiver Santana Moss said. "You’re going to go out there and run him crazy?"
Receiver Pierre Garcon agreed that Griffin’s injury and rehab has become the "elephant in the room" for the team and that the knee brace would understandably hinder the quarterback.
"It’s just like when you have extra equipment on, you definitely can’t move as fluid, as fast as you could when you didn’t have it on," Garcon said. "It’s common sense, really."
Griffin laughed off Garcon’s comments.
"I love Pierre. If he wants to race, I’m more than willing to do that," Griffin said. "But Pierre’s going to be Pierre. … I don’t feel like (the brace) is holding me back."