Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is entering the most critical part of his NFL career. He was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 while guiding the Redskins to a 10-6 record, resulting in Washington winning the NFC East title. RG3 followed that season with an atrocious sophomore season in 2013, playing so poorly that he was benched for Washington’s final three games en route to an abysmal 3-13 finish. To paraphrase a euphemism I used previously, RG3 went from the penthouse to the outhouse in a hurry.
Redskins fans with long memories hope RG3 isn’t likened to former Redskins quarterback Heath Shuler. In 1994, Shuler was selected third overall by Washington to become its franchise quarterback. To suggest that Shuler didn’t pan out as a Redskins signal caller doesn’t put things in their proper context. Shuler was beaten out by the immortal Gus Frerotte, who gained notoriety in Washington by injuring himself after headbutting a wall during a touchdown celebration.
Meanwhile, Shuler spent three inglorious seasons in Washington before joining the New Orleans Saints in 1997. That would be his last NFL season, as Shuler retired from the league to enter a new arena: politics. His career touchdown to interception ratio stands at 15 to 33, which reaffirms that Shuler made the right decision.
RG3 will be given every opportunity to redeem himself after last season, as he’ll be given a fresh start in 2014. I’ll take things a step further: RG3 needs to regain the respect of the league. His Gatorade, Adidas and Subway commercials aren’t becoming of his current status. Those endorsements might be better suited for quarterbacks who have actually done something in the NFL. They also suggest that RG3 should focus more on rebuilding his rapport with his offense, and less on his non-football activities.
I’ll digress, as I won’t turn this text into a bash fest of RG3. In fact, I like RG3, and really hope he plays well for the Redskins. He’ll have a new head coach and offensive coordinator in Jay Gruden and Sean McVay, respectively. They’ll be eager to work with RG3 in an effort to succeed where former head coach Mike Shanahan and former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan failed. Second year tight end Jordan Reed emerged as an efficient receiver in 2013 before a concussion prematurely ended his season. He’ll be eager to seamlessly integrate himself back into Washington’s offense.
Free agent acquisition DeSean Jackson will team with wide receiver Pierre Garcon to form arguably the NFL’s best starting wide receiver tandem. Another free agent acquisition, wide receiver Andre Roberts, is a speedster who will stretch the field to provide another downfield target for RG3. Simply put, RG3 has an abundance of receivers to throw to. If RG3 can’t solidify Washington’s passing game in 2014, the Redskins could be set back a few more years.