Why RG III could fit in Chip Kelly’s system

Senior Analyst Steve Palazzolo explains why recently-released QB Robert Griffin III could thrive in San Francisco.

| 8 months ago
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Why RG III could fit in Chip Kelly’s system

The 2012 season is a distant memory, but it may be the saving grace for Robert Griffin III on the open market. After posting one of the best rookie seasons for a QB in history (eighth overall QB in 2012), Griffin tailed off dramatically in 2013 (24th overall QB) and looked like a shell of himself in 2014 (32nd overall QB) before not even taking a snap last season. Any potential suitors may look to that rookie season as a sign of his potential, but re-creating that magic will take more than a wave of a wand.

The 2012 Washington offense played to Griffin’s skill-set perfectly. They limited his reads, used him in the designed run game to put extra pressure on the defense, and took advantage of that running ability to open up easy passes at the intermediate and deep levels. The 2013 season saw a change in philosophy as they tried to mold him into more of a prototypical pocket passer, limiting his work in the run game. While the intentions were right in terms of keeping Griffin healthy, his limitations in working through progressions came to the forefront, and he hasn’t been the same. Add in off-the-field question marks about leadership, combined with two different coaching staffs losing faith in his game, and Griffin is fighting an uphill battle.

For Griffin to approach the potential that he showed in 2012, his legs have to be a big part of his game, and like most mobile quarterbacks, he’ll get linked to the San Francisco 49ers and Chip Kelly. While Kelly’s only mobile quarterback in his three-year NFL stint (Michael Vick) was the least-successful of his four options, his offense is one of the few in the NFL that can take advantage of a skill-set like RG III’s. Griffin’s athleticism does make him an option to pull the ball and run, but add in his deep passing that saw him peak with an accuracy percentage of 50.0 percent in 2012 (fifth in the league), that upside may just be a perfect fit for Kelly’s offense that threw more deep passes than any in the league in 2013 and 2014.

At this point in Griffin’s career, a fresh start with a chance to compete for a starting job is all he can ask for, and likely his best chance at re-claiming any success. If some of the other teams with serious holes at quarterback—New York Jets, Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams—find capable competitors, Griffin deserves a chance to be in the mix and he represents a low-risk, high upside in a market devoid of capable signal callers.

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • crosseyedlemon

    I think a west coast team like the Niners or Rams would be the best fit for RG3. Forget the Jets which would be a media circus. Denver would not be a good choice because trying to replace a legend is almost always a no win situation.

  • Allaine

    Seems like everbody, especially in the east, calling Robert a fit anywhere in the west. Wonder why?

    • crosseyedlemon

      The west coast is the place where reclamation projects have the best chance of succeeding….just ask Jim Plunkett.

  • ThenAtlasSpoke

    He would be great in Denver too. The mere threat to run in the rollouts and especially naked bootlegs that are prevalent in that offense, would freeze safeties and linebackers, freeing downfield receivers for the big plays that were largely missing from Denver’s offense last year.

  • Skolbro28

    How about he comes to Minnesota and learn from a real QB!

    • crosseyedlemon

      Did Scott Turner lose his job to Fran Tarkenton?