What can Washington do to limit hits on Robert Griffin III? Photo by Keith Allison at WikiMediaCommons. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
Everywhere I turn for Redskins news, I hear the same story: Robert Griffin III can't keep getting hit so much. Running quarterbacks get hurt more. The Skins are sacrificing Griffin's health to move the ball now. And so on.
It's become an obsession for some, complete with hit counts. What I haven't seen yet is an examination of whether it's true that "running quarterbacks" get hurt more frequently. For good reason too -- it's a challenging research project. If I get time, I'll delve into the issue. For now, let's take a look at what Washington can do to reduce the number and ferocity of the hits Griffin absorbs from defenders.
Change technique on those option plays.This one is directly from Mike Shanahan and Griffin himself. The Post story includes the revelation that Griffin was dizzy after one hit and had to be checked for concussion (he passed the test). The idea here is for the quarterback to a) make his pitch or run decision quicker, and b) get his hands up after he pitches so it's clear he doesn't have the ball. That way, if the defender wrecks him anyway, the Skins get a 15-yard personal foul penalty.
Don't call so many option plays. Steve Czaban at Sportstalk 980 has been beating this drum, and he makes a persuasive argument. The option is designed to make the defender choose between stopping the QB from running or stopping the running back. The Bengals opted to defend it by decking Griffin whenever possible and letting someone else tackle the ball carrier.
Limit Griffin's runs to semi-designed scrambles, preferably in spread sets. The idea here is to design passing plays so that receiver patterns clear one area of the field. If Griffin gets pressure or his targets don't get open, he'll know he can run to that open area. He'll be able to see defenders closing in and either slide or get out of bounds to avoid getting popped.
Honestly, all three sound like sensible things to do. I particularly favor #3 because I think QBs who can run do the most damage in the open field. Designed runs draw defenders to the ball, but if the run comes on a passing play, defenders are first pulled away from the line of scrimmage.
Have a solution of your own? Post it in the comments.