How Good Robert Griffin III Could Have Been

By Brandon Medeiros
Robert Griffin III Washington Redskins
Brad Mills-US Presswire

With a 24-14 defeat, Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins have been booted out of the postseason at the hands of QB Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks.

In the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s first round playoff game, RG3 went down with another knee injury and was unable to continue, being replaced by rookie backup quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins has shown some flashes of his potential; in only two appearances this season he threw for four touchdowns and 466 yards. Cousins is definitely not a proven starting quarterback and especially couldn’t have been expected to lead a fourth quarter comeback in the playoffs, which not surprisingly, he didn’t.

Oddly enough, many Redskins fans believed that head coach Mike Shanahan should have started Kirk Cousins instead of the injury prone RG3.  Understandably, Shanahan and crew have looked to Griffin as the future of the franchise, and are rightful to do so.

Griffin was acquired after trading three first round picks and a second round pick to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for the second pick in the draft. Griffin, the number two pick coming out of Baylor, had a great college career. In his Junior season in 2011, he had 37 touchdowns, 4293 yards and won the Heisman Trophy over number one draft pick Andrew Luck. Griffin certainly could have surpassed Luck as the number one overall pick, but because of what some in the NFL see as a risky style of play, was chosen second bythe Redskins.

Though it came to a sudden end Sunday, Griffin had a phenomenal rookie season, with 20 touchdowns and over 3,000 yards, and was able to lead Washington to its first playoff appearance since 2007. Unfortunately, it was a short and unsuccessful one.

With proper rehabilitation this off season, there should be many more years for RG3 to lead his team back to the playoffs.

Or not.

Though RG3 is only 22 years old, he unfortunately could end up like NFL quarterback Greg Cook. Wait, who’s that?

Lets go back to the beginning of the 1969 season. Quarterback Greg Cook was drafted in the first round out of Cincinnati by his hometown Cincinnati Bengals. His season started spectacularly, leading the Bengals to a 3-0 record. In game three, Cook felt a pop in his right (throwing) shoulder and then missed the next three games. Though in his rookie season he led the NFL in passing rating, yards per attempt and completion percentage, he missed all of the 1970 and 1971 seasons. He returned for one game in 1972 and then promptly retired at age 27.

Many wonder “what could have been” of Cook, stating that he may have been an all time great. Frequent injuries that went unnoticed haunted his career and led to an early retirement.

How about a more recent reference. Does Michael Vick ring a bell? Vick though, has had a peculiar career in his ten seasons in the NFL. Coming out of Virginia Tech, Vick was drafted number 1 overall in the 2001 draft. Initially he played well with the Atlanta Falcons, averaging 12 touchdowns and 1917 yards in six seasons. His career was abruptly interrupted after a dog fighting scandal which cost Vick two NFL seasons.

In 2009 Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles took a gamble by bringing in Vick, unsure of whether he could still play up to previous standards. Vick was determined to prove to everybody that Philly had made the right choice.

After having only 1 touchdown his first season as backup to Donovan McNabb, Vick had a career campaign with 21 touchdowns and 2,362 yards in 2010 winning Comeback Player of the Year. Uncharacteristically, Vick struggled in the following 2011 season finishing with a 8-8 record and had a disastrous 2012 season, with a 4-12 record. Vick, a scrambling quarterback with a similar style as RG3, had multiple concussions this year and struggled to stay on the field, finally losing his job to backup Nick Foles.

Michael Vick could have made so much more of his career if he could have stayed healthy and kept out of trouble on, and off the field. Could the same pattern happen to RG3?

Many blame Griffin’s constant injuries on his explosive play style. But there is hope. Just remember how Oakland Raiders QB Ken “The Snake” Stabler started off his career in 1970, having the same style of play as Griffin. Frequent knee injuries caused Stabler to adjust to more of a pocket passer than a rusher. What followed not long after, was a Super Bowl title in 1977. If RG3 wants to continue his career successfully, then he may also need to change his style.

Though to many Redskins fans the idea may not seem appealing, it might possibly be the only way to extend the hopes of their future, and the career of Robert Griffin III.

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