RG3 and the injury risk of a scrambler
So Robert Griffin III is on the sideline once again—this time for at least a month with a dislocated ankle—and the rest of us are left touting our theories for why he can’t stay on the field.
The discourse on the banged-up RG3 usually follows one of two related arguments
One states that Griffin’s does not have the body type to sustain multiple open-field tackles every game. He doesn’t have enough meat on his bones. More meat would mean fewer injuries, the argument goes.
Though he does look frail in comparison to your average 260-pound linebacker, RG3 is pretty much in the middle of the pack compared to other quarterbacks. At 6’ 2” and 223 pounds, he outweighs 12 other starting QB’s, among them Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, and Andy Dalton.
That said, when you compare him to league’s other top scramblers, he is only taller and heavier than Russell Wilson. Other leading scramblers like Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Geno Smith, and Alex Smith all have larger frames and all seem to stay on the field more consistently.
This brings up the second, more popular argument (one recycled from Michael Vick’s heyday): He will never be able to stay healthy for a full season if he never slides and always fights for extra yards.
Based on a comprehensive analysis of Newton, Kaepernick, Wilson, and Griffin’s scrambling tendencies and injury risk, it seems this argument has more merit.
Compared to the other three scramblers in 2012 and 2013, Griffin was least likely to slide and most likely to be tackled into the sideline or sandwich tackled by multiple defenders.
While in 2013 he did show an increased tendency to run out of bounds without being hit, the numbers show that he still leaves his body out there far too often. Only Newton, who has three inches and 27 pounds on him, took more total hits than Griffin.
Griffin could probably learn a thing or two from fellow slight-of-frame scrambler Russell Wilson, who sustained the fewest open field hits of the four scramblers and was most adept at either sliding or running out of bounds without being tackled.
Perhaps during this next month or so, with his ankle in a brace, Griffin will study some Seahawks game film and take a few pointers on how not to fling his body or have it be flung. Perhaps he’ll even put on a few pounds while he’s at it.