In early March, over a month before the 2012 NFL draft, the Washington Redskins made a move – a big one that is, which would come at a high price.
But for a team desperate to try something new after playing with five different quarterbacks and failing to post a record above 6-10 in the last three seasons, the move reflected an eagerness to rebuild and the willingness to drastically change the shape of the franchise.
Washington swapped its first-round selection in the 2012 draft with the St. Louis Rams, moving up from the sixth spot to the No. 2 overall pick – a deal that also cost the Redskins a second-round selection in 2012 and first-round picks in 2013 and 2014.
While the Indianapolis Colts were set to select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck – the draft’s seemingly unanimous top prospect– heading into draft night with the No. 1 overall pick, Washington had its eyes on Heisman trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III of Baylor.
“With the second pick in the 2012 NFL draft,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recited to the over 39 million people watching. “The Washington Redskins select Robert Griffin III.”
With just one sentence, RG3 was delivered to D.C. and it appeared that Washington’s long-awaited quest to rebuild had begun.
Just over a week after the draft, Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan named the 2011 All-Big 12 and Consensus All-American quarterback the team’s starter for the 2012-13 season. However, despite the excitement both this announcement and the official signing of Griffin in July have brought to the nation’s capital, many questions have surfaced surrounding the rookie.
Atop the list is whether or not the price Washington paid for a rookie quarterback, who at the time he was drafted had not yet taken a snap in an NFL game, was too high? – a question that can only be answered with time.
With only five weeks of RG3’s rookie season in the books, perhaps it is still too early to completely say whether or not he is worth the boatload of draft picks the Redskins gave up for him or the four-year deal worth $21 million the franchise signed him to.
The defenses, however, of the teams the Redskins have faced so far can attest to the rookie quarterback’s talent and the impact he’s had on Washington’s play as being worth far more than what it cost the Redskins to acquire him.
Led by RG3, the Washington Redskins are seventh in the NFL in terms of total offense with just over 400 yards per game.
En route to a 40-32 defeat of the New Orleans Saints in his rookie debut, Griffin became the only player in league history to pass for over 300 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in his first NFL start.
Against the Saints, the rookie play caller completed 73 percent of his passes, setting a tone of consistency that he has maintained throughout the season thus far. RG3 is fifth in the league with a passer rating of 101.0 behind Alex Smith, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning.
With Griffin taking the snaps, the Redskins have not only improved through the air but also on the ground. Propelled by the attack of the team’s rookie duo of RG3 and running back Alfred Morris – Washington’s sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic – Washington averages 162 rushing yards per game, ranking fourth in the league.
In a week four win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Griffin and Morris each rushed for their fourth touchdowns of the season, becoming the first pair of rookie teammates in NFL history to rush for four touchdowns in as many games to start their careers.
While RG3 has, in five games, thrown for 1,161 yards and recorded four rushing touchdowns, the September NFL offensive rookie of the month has second-year quarterback Cam Newton’s records for most passing yards and rushing touchdowns by a rookie in sight.
With 11 games left to go on Washington’s schedule, the potential that Griffin will eclipse Newton’s rookie season mark of 4,051 passing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns is not out of the question.
What RG3 faces, however, is both a long and tough road ahead.
In last Sunday’s game against Atlanta Falcons, it got that much harder for the rookie quarterback as he was knocked out of the game with a concussion. Before suffering the injury, Griffin was limited to 91 passing yards and one carry for seven yards.
Fortunately for the Redskins, RG3 is expected to play in next Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings.
For Griffin, who seemingly expects nothing less than to be challenged this season, his success will be a test of how he responds to adversity. Despite playing not even five full NFL games so far in his career, RG3 has shown that this is something he can do.
Following Washington’s 38-31 week three loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, RG3 tweeted: “It’s not about getting knocked down or getting up. It’s about getting up and not being discouraged to succeed.”
While Griffin’s performance so far this season speaks for itself, it is something so simple, yet so intangible, as the maturity he displays through his tweets which shows that RG3 was well worth the price the Washington Redskins paid to acquire him.