Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III took sacks during the 2014 season like no other quarterback in the 21st Century.
Griffin was sacked 33 times last year while throwing only 214 passes. How rare is that? Not since Hugh Millen of the 1992 Patriots has a quarterback been sacked so many times while throwing so few passes.
The NFL started counting quarterbacks’ times sacked as an official statistic in 1963, and in the 52 seasons since then, only six quarterbacks have been sacked as many as 33 times while throwing as few as 214 passes: Griffin, Millen, Randall Cunningham in his first season, Mike Rae of the horrendous expansion Buccaneers, Bobby Douglass of the 1969 Bears, and Archie Manning — who did it twice while playing behind the awful New Orleans Saints line of the 1970s.
It would be tempting to blame the offensive line any time a quarterback gets sacked that often, but in Griffin’s case it would be incorrect. Washington’s other two quarterbacks, Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins, weren’t sacked as often as Griffin. McCoy was sacked 17 times while throwing 128 passes, and Cousins was sacked eight times while throwing 208 passes.
No, the problem with Griffin is that he isn’t good enough at getting rid of the ball when he’s under pressure. Griffin has been sacked at least 30 times in all three of his NFL seasons despite never throwing more than 456 passes in a year. (For comparison with a passer who’s good at getting rid of the ball, Peyton Manning has never been sacked 30 times in any of his 16 seasons despite always throwing at least 453 passes.)
As a rookie, the 30 sacks Griffin took just seemed like part of the cost of doing business for a quarterback who was so good at making plays with his legs that he ran for 815 yards. But this year, when Griffin took 33 sacks despite rushing for only 176 yards, it seems like he’s still trying to rely on his legs to get him out of trouble — but his legs aren’t getting the job done anymore. RG3’s sack rate is another reason to think that building him into a franchise quarterback is going to be a difficult, and maybe even impossible, job.