Reporting Grant Paulsen
ASHBURN, Va. (CBSDC) — Robert Griffin III is running the football a lot.
Two games into his inaugural NFL season, the rookie quarterback is on pace to register 160 rushing attempts. If that number seems high, it should.
Michael Vick has never carried the ball more than 123 times in a season and Cam Newton tallied just 126 rushes as a rookie a year ago.
“I think it’ll die down over the course of the year,” Griffin said about the number of rushes he’s on pace for. “From game to game it will be different. Sometimes I’ll carry the ball 10 times, sometimes I’ll carry the ball two times.”
So far Griffin has carried the ball nine and 11 times in two games. In those contests he’s been driven to the ground by contact on 26 occasions.
“There’s always ways to avoid hits,” Griffin said Wednesday. “Some of the hits I was getting in this past game were unavoidable.”
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan knows that Griffin has run the ball a lot, but maintains the team doesn’t spend the week planning for their quarterback’s primary weapon to be his legs.
“We’re going to do what we think we need to do to win,” Shanahan said. “Obviously we want to protect Robert as well. [How often he runs] depends on the games. It all depends on what defenses are doing.”
Griffin echoed his coach’s sentiments, saying that he makes many of his decisions in the read option game based on the reaction of the defensive front.
“It’s just a matter of how defenses are going to play,” Griffin said. “Our coaches will get more and more creative with the game plans that we have going in. On designed runs, I can’t really give it to anyone. I’ve got to go out there and try to make something happen.”
As dynamic a ball carrier as Griffin is –- and he’s already proven to possess elite play-making ability and elusiveness –- the first-year passer had better hope his rushing totals diminish as the year progresses.
Griffin’s 20 attempts are the same number of rushes as DeAngelo Williams has made for Carolina and one more than Tennessee Titans tailback Chris Johnson has tallied.
It should also be noted that Griffin’s rushes are working. His 124 yards on the ground are more than 17 running backs have accumulated in the same number or with more carries than the signal caller.
But the number of shots Griffin takes is a more important statistic than the yards he compiles. As of right now, Griffin is on pace to run the ball 34 more times than Newton did in a record-setting campaign one season ago.