Do We Want RGIII Doing This?

It’s 4th-and-four with 3:19 seconds left in what Mike Shanahan has already told his team is a must-win game. The Skins are down by 15 points — technically two scores. If they don’t convert this play, the game is over. The season is over.

RGIII drops back to pass. There’s nothing there. He tucks the ball and runs up the middle for the first down marker. He’s close to it as the defense closes in on him. Instead of sliding and risking coming up short, he jumps head-first for the line to gain. He’s hit hard, spins in the air and lands two yards beyond the marker.

He’s given his team a chance to win the game. To save its season.

–//–

Of course, that was all for naught. And as rationally minded people (editor’s note: most of us), we know the Skins season was probably already over before this game, and well before that play (which you can see at the 2:45-mark here). But in RGIII’s mind — and in the mind of his teammates — it was not. It was a potentially dangerous play, but to him, the risk was worth taking.

To many on the outside, however, it was not. Immediately following the play — which was now being shown nationally on FOX after other 1 p.m. games had wrapped up — Twitter was full of people condemning Griffin for not getting down. For not — I assume — sliding, which could have left him short of the first down.

Grantland’s Bill Barnwell, who I respect immensely, was one such voice on Twitter:

RG3 just did the Elway Flip to pick up a first down in a 21-6 game. Remember when he “learned his lesson” on the sidelines?

What followed was a silly back-and-forth between him and I that basically accomplished nothing. But my point then remains the same this morning: Do we want RGIII playing it safe in that situation, or do we want him risking harm to make what, at that moment, was an incredibly important play? I know what my answer is, but here was RGIII’s when asked about his mindset during that play:

Get the first down. That’s the bottom line. Guys see that. They see their quarterback out there putting it on the line every single play. It makes them wanna put it on the line every single play. It’s more about inspiring guys.

Obviously, no one wants RGIII taking unnecessary hits. We all want him to slide or run out of bounds as much as possible. But on fourth down, with the game still within reach, I’m happy to have the quarterback who is focused on the bottom line.

UPDATE: Barnwell wrote at length about RGIII’s 4th down, head-first dive in his Grantland column today. I certainly understand his argument, but I still disagree with it.

10 thoughts on “Do We Want RGIII Doing This?”

  1. To some extent the “perception” comment is true because he is this year’s changing of the team’s fortunes, as perceived by fans, and around the league to this point, though that seems to be tarnishing itself quickly. If he is perceived as giving this franchise hope, we can pretend our hopes – as well as RG3′s career – is not doomed.
    This is why smoking weed is so popular too. It’s makes perception more easily accepted.

  2. The answer is we want Griffin playing it safe. No one first down (particularly not in mid-season) is worth him missing a month with injury.

  3. Nine games into his career job No. 1 is staying on the field and getting as much experience as possible. But in general there are very few situations where a franchise QB risking major injury is worth winning one game.

  4. It was a key first down and the game was not over. There was a reasonable chance for them to score, get an onside kick, score again and tie with a two point conversion. Also, he in his first year and can absorb some punishment. You MUST go for that first down.

    Long term they have to surround him with better talent so he runs less and doesn’t shorten his career. But yesterday, in that situation, sliding is unsatisfactory.

  5. The game was essentially over when Cam and Company went 98 yards and scored after the Skins could not punch it in on 4th and 2

  6. If I could link to it I would. As Herm said, “You play to win the game.” RGIII was trying to win the game. If you don’t have that mentality, you will never be a champion. He should keep doing what he’s been doing. My suggestion is to get a better fucking OL and team around him so he takes less hits in the pocket.

  7. The point of the game is try and win, not to preserve your health (as important as it is), you have to take risks to succeed in football if there is a possibility for victory. Its RGIIIs sheer will and desire that gives him his amazing ability, you can’t take that away from him, unfortunately no one else on the roster has found this concept of playing inspired football, except maybe FroMo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>