Explaining RGIII's "Mental Reps"

Patrick McDermott

Most of us have heard Tandler mention Robert's mental reps and we've read the following snippets on HH or CSN Washington:

El-Bashir: Griffin’s challenge is to become intimately familiar with the playbook and how the defense reacts – without taking a single snap. It’s called a "mental rep" and it worked like this during OTAs:

During offense vs. defense drills, Griffin held a play card in his hand as Kirk Cousins directed the first team. Griffin stood several yards behind Cousins, but was close enough to hear Cousins call the play, audible at the line of scrimmage and identify the defensive alignment.

After each play, Griffin initiated a brief discussion with someone, whether it was Cousins, quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur or another member of the coaching staff. He was also quick to give Cousins – or a receiver – a pat on the helmet after a well-executed play.

Griffin (talking about mental reps): "You know the play, you know what defense you’re going against, you need to KNOW where you're supposed to be looking and what your eligibles are. You know what you’re supposed to look at and you’re yelling it out BEFORE it happens. It helps you, looking at [things] from a different perspective [so] when you get out there on the field, you already know, ‘I only need to look at this [key] on this play.’ ""

If we fans are "paying attention" (Robert's buzz phrase for "mental reps"), we'll realize Robert is doing a whole lot more than agility drills at OTAs. He's running the offense, albeit through intense mental reps (with the added benefit of ZERO distraction from physical pain or fatigue or re-injury concern.)

Mental reps, just like physical reps, become instincts. With repetition each play's conscious analysis and deliberate action becomes a reflex.

Think about your split second athletic reflexes. Drive to the hoop or deliver the bounce pass? Swing or take the pitch? Step up in the pocket or take off running? You developed these instincts by repetitively practicing what's commonly referred to as "pattern recognition" or "spatial reasoning." You see, process and understand not only what’s going on now, but what’s going to happen next. That's Spatial Reasoning - the ability to understand scenes in three-dimensions and predict how movement will change that dynamic.

Without even taking a snap, Robert is practicing every passing play's high-speed spatial reasoning. He's transitioning from conscious thought and deliberate action to instinct. (All this while we thought he was idling.)

Multiple studies have proven detailed imagery of a skill excites the same neuromuscular pattern associated with actually performing that particular skill. Our brains’ power to imagine and visualize develops the neurological pathways associated with that skill. In other words, Robert might just as well have been out there taking the physical reps himself. He'll continue performing these same intense mental reps in early June's OTA and mid June's mini-camp.

Barring an unlikely setback, Robert will be sprinting and cutting in less than 6 weeks. This is according to his statements. And those statements are supported by (1) standard rehab schedules for his type of surgery, and (2) many other athlete's historical recovery timetables. Do the math. Eight weeks from now, meaning day one of training camp, RG3 will be sprinting full speed and cutting. This will allow Robert to easily take physical reps at QB from day 1. He'll be taking those non-contact physical practice reps the ENTIRETY of camp and pre-season.

Recent statements from Mike Shanahan imply the plan is to keep Robert out of pre-season games and play RG3 September 9th in the Monday Night home opener against Philly. Mike has stated that if RG3 can fully practice the week before that game, he'll play. Fully practicing is something RG3 will have already been doing the entirety of training camp and pre-season.

I now strongly believe RG3 will return game 1.

I now strongly believe RG3's injury hasn't and won't delay his development.

What I'm wondering is how will the coaches split the 1st and 2nd team practice reps between Cousins and RG3 during training camp and pre-season?

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