Robert Griffin III's trademark accuracy deserted him. His arm strength lagged. His mobility wasn't a factor. And then the second half started.
Chip Kelly and his lightning offense deserve the headlines following the Philadelphia Eagles' 33-27 victory over the Washington Redskins on Monday night, but RGIII's effectiveness will equally shape the NFC East race this season. We shouldn't be surprised by his uneven start.
"We had a serious case of the can't-get-rights -- penalties, everything, turnovers -- and that's just not the identity of our offense," Griffin said at his postgame news conference.
It was always unfair to expect Griffin to return good as new just eight months after ACL surgery. It's one thing to miss the preseason. It's another for a second-year pro to miss the entire offseason and then the preseason. Griffin hadn't seen live action since January, and there's simply no way to simulate game speed for a quarterback.
We hammered this point all offseason: Even Tom Brady was not the same when he first returned from a torn ACL. The New England Patriots passer wasn't as comfortable in the pocket and his trademark accuracy deserted him because of his footwork. This is what happens to most quarterbacks after knee surgery, and it certainly happened to Griffin on Monday night.
He didn't step into his throws even when he had room in the pocket. Some throws lacked juice because of his footwork, including on one of his two interceptions. (He threw five all of last season.) Griffin almost never missed routine throws last season, and it happened many times Monday.
Griffin's play dramatically improved in the second half. He settled down with a number of short throws and moved the ball well for a few drives, passing for 276 yards after halftime. After not throwing more than 39 passes all of last season, he threw 49 on Monday.
The second-half rebound doesn't mean RGIII is "back" any more than his slow start meant that his season was doomed. It'll take time for Griffin to become fully comfortable again.