I went back and re-watched the starting the offense play in the first three preseason games.
The following stood out:
- RG3 is a better QB now than he ever was.
- The gaps between Center and Right Guard and between Right Guard and Tackle are still the Achilles Heel of the Offensive Line.
- Lauvao is improving every week.
- Alfred is still the great Alfred, and Redd will soon show himself to be the second best RB on the team.
So why is everyone giving RG3 so much grief?
The issue is really RG3’s composure (confidence, nervousness, pick your adjective). Gruden calls it “having to make every play a touchdown,” which is really just a way to describe RG3’s nervousness and lack of composure when he sometimes plays.
Several factors seem to throw RG3 out of his composure. They affect his ability to see the field and read receivers, make him more likely to nervously run instead of dump off a short pass or throw the ball out of bounds, make him stare down receivers, and make him throw off his back foot.
Some of those factors are:
1) Playing a team with a very good or great offense (I believe because he feels even more competitiveness and pressure).
2) Playing a team with a very good defensive line and rush.
3) Playing away from home with LOUD crowd noise.
4) Playing against defenses that destroyed his knee.
All of these factors were in play against the Ravens, RG3’s worst game of the preseason that went beyond getting a few kinks out as the other games did.
Against Houston, there will be an incredible pass rush and loud crowd noise. But the Texans offense is not to be feared. It will be interesting to watch RG3’s composure but note that it should be at a relative low point against the Eagles in game 3 when looking at the first few games in the Redskins’ schedule.
The cure for Gruden is to help RG3 get on a roll with screen passes, turning the (Helu) Read Option into the (Jordan) Reed Option (since he is almost always open and he tends to miss him when checking the RB first), and staying off of social media. Blabbing is a sign of nervousness and RG3 most learn to cool it on the speeches.
It’s also clear that Gruden has no intention of keeping this Offensive Line throughout the entire season. Gruden is easier to read than Shanahan. Case in point — look at Gruden’s strange, tight mouthed, partial smile when Seastrunk scored the 80 yard TD. It wasn’t a big smile like ‘can’t wait to unleash this on opposing defenses!’ It’s clear from his look that the decision to cut him came much earlier.