By Kevin Ross
NFL history says that it’s inevitable for rookie quarterbacks to struggle. Ex-players call it hitting the rookie wall, or coming back down to earth; they say it happens to all rookies. But the truth of the matter is this: The history books have never recorded a rookie as prolific as Robert Griffin III, who is already the most marketable player in the league.
Robert Griffin’s commercials seem to play on a never-ending loop, but when you pay attention to his Gatorade commercial, one particular phrase sticks out, “Greatness is not given; it’s taken.” And that slogan seems to be the mantra of this young man who has taken everything and has left no prisoners. All of a sudden, it’s not so preposterous to call Robert Griffin the Lebron James of football. And it’s also no longer crazy talk to discuss RG3’s chances of winning league MVP. But Griffin has not done it all by himself this season, and has greatly benefited from a stout running game.
If one dynamic rookie wasn’t enough, the Washington Redskins boast the league’s best rookie running back in Alfred Morris. Morris is currently ranked 2nd in the NFL in rushing yards, trailing Arian Foster by only 1-yard. Griffin III and Morris give Washington a balanced attack, which presents problems (to say the least) for defenses come Sundays.
But the Alpha and Omega of the Washington Redskins is RG3, who leads the league in completion percentage at 70.4 percent. And while Andrew Luck is ranked 31st in quarterback rating, Robert Griffin sits amongst the league’s best ranked 3rd.
Last week, the Giants started the week off by disrespecting Robert Griffin, and although they ended the week with a win, they left the competition proclaiming that Griffin III was the best quarterback that they had seen so far. The Pittsburgh Steelers have learned from the New York Giants, and have stayed away from giving RG3 bulletin board material. Head coach Mike Tomlin addressed the media this week, “He’s a special talent – not only in terms of what he can do with his arms, but also his legs. I really think they’re doing a nice job of maximizing his talents and putting him in a position to be successful. But bigger than the physical talent, it’s obvious that the stage isn’t too big for him and he’s really representing himself well and appears to be extremely comfortable while executing.”
If the Redskins are to defeat the Steelers, RG3 must live up to Mike Tomlin’s remarks and comfortably execute at Heinz Field. But this will be Griffin’s biggest test as he faces the always staunch Steelers defense lead by coordinator Dick LeBeau.
Since 2004 LeBeau is remarkably 14-1 when facing rookie quarterbacks, limiting them to 11.4 points per game. LeBeau’s exotic 3-4 defenses traditionally leave the brightest signal callers scratching their heads, while leaving rookies dazed and confused. There are endless publications attaining to the smarts and intellect of Robert Griffin.
This week, RG3 will have an opportunity to show everyone just how hard he works in the film room as preparation is the only way to solve the Steelers defense. “I tell people you trust in your preparation. I trust my preparation every week I step on the field. If I wasn’t prepared and I went out there and played bad, then that’s my own fault. I feel like I’ve been prepared every week. You’ll still have bad games here and there, but preferably those don’t come and we can keep moving forward and playing well. My biggest thing is I try to make sure I prepared harder every week and go out and just allow my ability that God has blessed me with – whether that’s running, throwing the ball, or just being a manager of the game – to help us win,” said Griffin III.
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Kevin Ross is a freelance writer covering all things Washington Redskins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.