A year ago, it would have been inconceivable to even put Robert Griffin III’s name in the same sentence as the word “bust,” but the NFL landscape changes quickly, and for the Washington Redskins, that change hasn’t gone in their favor.
A season ago, Griffin on the fast-track to becoming the next big star. Unlike Andrew Luck, who has kept a low profile since entering the league, we’ve seen Griffin all over our televisions, both on highlight reels and in commercials.
Now, with the Redskins clinging to the smallest thread of hope for the rest of the season, it’s time to reevaluate what we’ve seen from Griffin over the past year. After sustaining a knee injury that sidelined him for the entire offseason, Robert Griffin worked his way back into shape, and was supposedly ready to play when he first took the field for the Redskins in 2013.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. In the opening weeks of the season, it was easy to pass off Griffin’s poor performances as simply a byproduct of being off the field for so long. We thought that he would find his way back to his former level of play in due time.
Boy were we wrong.
As is sometimes the case in the NFL, a star is sometimes born only to disappear an instant later. Where Griffin excelled a season ago, he now struggles to be competent, so much so that there has been legitimate banter among analysts, considering whether he should be benched or not.
Last year, Griffin was completing over 65% of his passes. This year, he’s completing a hair under 60%. Sure, it’s not a terrible percentage, but it’s a long way from where he once was.
Even worse, Griffin, who was extremely efficient as a rookie, is now throwing nearly as many interceptions as he is touchdowns. In his rookie season, Griffin threw an interception for every four touchdown tosses. Now, he’s throwing just under one and a half touchdowns per interception.
There’s no question Griffin’s knee injury has had an impact on his play this season. He’s nowhere near as effective scrambling this season as he was last season, and that lack of explosive running potential may actually be harming his ability to throw the ball. Unlike pocket passers, scrambling quarterbacks often rely on their ability to make plays on the ground to help open up passing lanes. With less production from his legs, it’s perfectly reasonable to believe that Griffin’s passing game is suffering as a result.
As the NFL moves more towards running quarterbacks, it’s important to remember why there was ever an emphasis on pocket passers in the first place. It’s a lot easier for a quarterback to stay healthy when he’s not taking hits very often, and Robert Griffin III’s rookie season is one fine example of why scrambling quarterbacks aren’t a safe bet in the NFL.
There’s no doubt that Griffin was on track to become a star of the NFL, but one injury and some poor decisions later, Griffin’s play has opened the door to a quarterback controversy in Washington. Right now, the question isn’t whether or not Griffin will be a superstar. The question has now become, will Robert Griffin be remembered as a draft bust?
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Nobody in DC likes this story. I continue to be optimistic, but cannot say until the end of the 2014 season. That's when the Redskins pay the last installment of the deal that landed RGIII.
Griffin is starting football games when I would be just off crutches after a devastating knee injury. Whether he's a bust depends on three things.
1. Does he recover to 98% of his skill level by the 2014 season so that the team can still build around him?
2. Does he evolve as an NFL quarterback?
3. Do the Redskins make a playoff RUN after the 2014 season? An appearance is not enough for the picks given away for him.