Football fans in the DC metro area have been walking around for months with a giddy glow that you usually get from a woman pushing 30 whose boyfriend finally popped the question. After years of Dan Synder promising winning seasons and throwing money around with all the grace and forethought of a white trash lottery winner, the racially insensitive Washington Football Team finally hit on a game changing player the old fashioned way – with a top 5 draft pick. Robert Griffin III was one of the most hyped rookies to ever come into the league and for once that hype proved warranted. Griffin lit up the field, racking up 3200 passing yards, another 800 rushing, 27 combined TDs, finishing with a 102 QB rating for the season – Quite a debut. Now here’s where I become the biggest turd in the DC punchbowl since Orin Hatch. I hope you were paying attention in 2012 and I hope you enjoyed the RGIII experience – because that was the peak. It’s all a slow slide downhill from here.
I’ve never been a fan of running quarterbacks but I’m not an RGIII hater either. (Total Mike Vick Hater but now’s not the time for that discussion) He’s got talent, obviously. He also seems like a hard worker and basically a nice guy. It doesn’t make me happy to say that Bob is already on the downside of his career but years of watching the NFL tells me this is probably the case. Griffin is 23 years old and in peak physical condition. I’m sure the guy works out like a madman (I’ve seen those Gatorade commercials). He’s cut like a statue. With all that going for him, he still couldn’t make it through one NFL season.
The rookie season that RGIII put together was impressive and it was exciting. He put up stats, won games and was thoroughly electrifying to watch. He also got knocked out of three games and missed a fourth while dealing with the previous week’s injury – Again, he’s only 23. We’re not talking about you’re typical rookie QB season here, where a #1 draft pick becomes the only weapon on a doormat team. This wasn’t David Carr getting sacked 75 times with the expansion Texans. If that were the case there might be more hope for the future by developing the O-line or the running game. Those things were already in place last year. The pounding that Griffin took was essentially self-inflicted.
It’s a simple fact: Quarterbacks who run around making plays with their legs get hurt…a lot. And Bob likes to make things happen, usually with his legs. It’s just in his nature to play that way. It’s what makes him exciting. The fire that makes him great also burns him. Griffin played 15 games last year and already has a concussion and knee surgery on his medical file; And to be honest, considering how he flies around the field, it’s amazing that list wasn’t longer – oh, but it will be, it certainly will.
The playoff game against Seattle showed us what RGIII looks like with out the wheels and it wasn’t pretty. The sight of him hobbling around in a knee brace, eventually crumpling to ground without even being hit, was straight out of Friday Night Lights. (A moment of silence for James “Boobie” Miles) The fact that he plays for Mike Shannahan makes it even scarier. Permit me to mix movie metaphors, if Griffin is Boobie from FNL then Shannahan is Coach Bud Kilmer from Varsity Blues. Kilmer was the veteran coach with a championship resume and a my-way-or-the-highway approach. He also expected his players to sacrifice everything to win no matter what the cost. Bud never concerned himself with the long term affects of his decisions; all that mattered was winning right now. If only James Van Der Beek was in Landover, MD to stand up for Robert Griffin.
Bob should sit down and have a talk with former Shannahan workhorse Terrell Davis. TD is a fixture on the Hall of Fame ballot but I don’t think many people realize that he only played a total of 7 seasons and just 4 of them were good (well, great actually). Davis entered the league at 23 – same age as RGIII now – peaked at 26 and was out of the league at 29. What happened? The Shannahan Meat Grinder happened. During his 3 year peak TD averaged 403 touches per season. (Four Hundred and Three! And he had John Elway!) Shannahan saw his meal ticket and rode it to the Super Bowl. Now that he’s got RGIII, Mike is licking his chops again. After massing 2235 combined yards in 1998, Davis never played more than 8 games a season his final 3 years. The human body can only take so much.
I hope for Griffin’s sake and the sake of football fans everywhere that I am wrong. I would love to see a long, successful career for #10. He makes the game more fun to watch, plain and simple. However, my gut tells me the apex has already happened. RGIII certainly has some more exciting plays in him He will absolutely grasp victory from the jaws of defeat a few times. He will tantalize us and give DC fans dreams of a Lombardi trophy. But the injuries will continue to pile up and each will slow him down a little bit, making him a little less effective. Within a couple years we’ll all be asking “What happened to RGIII?” as Washington finishes 6-10…again. But at least we’ll have that magical 2012 season to look back upon and sportscasters will speculate as to what Griffin could have done if only he was able to stay healthy. If only…