Jim Urbano is a former college quarterback who I compete with in a fantasy league. He was kind enough to allow me to share his point of view that he also shared with the Footballguys Shark Pool forums when reading my take on a play I analyzed of RGIII’s versus Oklahoma State. I think Jim underscores some good points about the spread formation and the inherent difficulty of evaluating quarterbacks operating from it.
I haven’t watched a great deal of OSU football recently but I’d be inclined to believe that them staying in this man coverage in the face of the trips formation was rare. I say that because it simply is for almost any college team I’ve ever seen. There may have been a pre-snap indication that the blitz was coming and that OSU would roll the dice with man coverage but we can’t put this play into context with out knowing the full season and schematic tendencies of OSU heading into this game.
The reason I say that staying in man coverage vs. this formation is rare is because the trips formation Baylor is in is fantastic at creating natural picks and lining up skill players (WRs) vs. mismatched defenders ( S and LBs). It’s an offense’s way of trying to dictate coverage and staying in man vs. that formation is just flat out ballsy.
I’m not convinced this was a pre-snap mistake on RGIII’s part at all. I think he simply got confused because he was coached all week in his film sessions that the formation Baylor used would result in a different OSU coverage scheme and it didn’t. I think he read the LB on the play and expected that the S would run under into the flat in a Cover 3 zone.
He didn’t see the S running to that spot and thought he had the deep comeback pattern as easy pickings, only to find that the CB was sitting on it in man. He didn’t see that he had the middle WR open because he was too caught up waiting to see who was taking the flat.
He still made a mistake, I just don’t think it was the mistake you are saying. I think he didn’t trust the pre-snap reads and assumed that his formation would force the OSU coverage.
This is one of my real problems with the spread offense and evaluating QBs to the NFL from it. Far too often does the QB depend on forced coverages because their formations create easier tendencies.
Clearly, I think Jim has a good point or I wouldn’t have asked him if I could post it here. If you opt for Jim’s explanation of this play, it sounds like RGIII really wasn’t expected to look at the the safety.
I still think Griffin will be expected to look at the safety in the future and sometimes be able to recognize when an offensive formation doesn’t draw expected coverage.I also think this play is one of many I’ve seen where Griffin tends to play faster in his mind than he needs to play on the field, which leads to bad decisions.
However, most top quarterback prospects experience these growing pains. I believe if the Redskins take Griffin as we now expect, the Baylor start will be used on plays that set up decisions on one side of the field and force the middle of the defensive coverage to make a decision about the quarterback’s dynamic skill as a runner. When an offense has a player capable of placing that much pressure on a defense with his huge arm and great speed, even simpler decision concepts are really difficult to stop.
Vince Lomardi’s vaunted Packer Sweep was tough to stop and it had to do with great execution and not complexity of the play. Griffin should develop into a complete quarterback before we know it but even as a rookie, he’s going to be dangerous. Just keep expectations reasonable for Year One.
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