On How Mike Shanahan Plans to Better Protect Robert Griffin III

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMarch 20, 2013

At this morning's coaches breakfast at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix, you could have asked Mike Shanahan for his thoughts on March Madness or Barack Obama's trip to Israel and he would have given you the same answer to both questions: 

Robert Griffin III needs to learn how to slide. 

The Washington Redskins head coach repeated that thought over and over again during his session with local and national media. Was he stating the obvious? Absolutely. However, the fact that sliding was something Shanahan emphasized so strongly indicates he believes that might be the key to keeping RG3 healthy going forward.

If you're a Redskins fan, I don't need to tell you that none of Griffin's injuries in 2012 came on read-option plays. But does that mean it's safe? Shanahan doesn't seem to think the scheme puts RG3 in any more danger. In fact, he suggests that it "helps a quarterback stay healthy" because it causes pass-rushers to lose steam. 

While I get that part of the argument, it should be noted that the read-option causes the quarterback to run more often than he would on a standard drop-back. And whenever a quarterback is a runner, he becomes more vulnerable. Therefore, logically, the odds of a quarterback getting injured are certainly better on a read-option play than a regular one. 

Griffin certainly needs to learn to slide in either case, but the Redskins have to avoid offering him too many scenarios that could result in him having to make that choice. 

We've heard time and again this offseason that defensive coaches are energetically trying to cook up ways to shut down option-oriented offenses. It might not be a fad, but it's no longer unique or surprising. 

Griffin has to become a slider. He has to become better at throwing the ball away when danger strikes. He has to become better at reading tacklers. However, this isn't all on him. The pass protection could be better and the offensive playbook could do a hell of a lot more to keep the franchise's most valuable player out of dangerous situations.

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