By Tarik El-Bashir
Concern for the number of hits Robert Griffin III has absorbed over the first three weeks of the season reached a fever pitch Monday morning on sports talk radio, blogs and sports pages.
But you know who insists he’s not concerned about the seemingly inordinate number of times the Redskins’ quarterback has been forced to peel himself off the turf?
Rookie bravado? Perhaps. But his comments after Sunday’s 38-31 loss to the Bengals provided an interesting glimpse into his psyche.
“I’ve never played scared in my life and it doesn’t matter how many times I get hit,” he said. “I’m going to continue to get back up. Even if they have to cart me off the field, I’m going to get off the cart and walk away.”
On Sunday, the hits Griffin absorbed were a combination of game planning and poor protection. Griffin was sacked six times, and according to NFL stats, the Bengals laid 13 hits on him during pass attempts. Griffin also received a number of hits on the 12 times he carried the football, particularly on option plays.
Through three games, Griffin has rushed 32 times, which puts him tied for 26th in the league. He’s the only quarterback on that list. Next, in fact, is Carolina’s Cam Newton at No. 39 with 24.
Coach Mike Shanahan pointed out after the game that just because a quarterback carries the ball it doesn’t mean the run ends with a tackle or even a hit. But what can’t be argued is that exposing Griffin so often drives up the probability that the franchise’s most important player will eventually absorb a blow resulting in injury.
A lot of people outside of Redskins Park are worried.
Griffin, however, is not.
“One is too many, to be honest,” he said, asked how many hits constitutes too many. “I’m not trying to be funny. As a quarterback, you’re a stationary target most of the time. When you’re a mobile QB, the teams are still going to come after you even more because they feel like if they get a sack on a mobile quarterback, it counts as more. That’s just their mindset when they go into the game. Like I said, one is too many, but the one thing I won’t do personally is quit of play scared.”