RGIII: 5 Washington Redskins Who Instantly Improved When the QB Was Drafted
In doing so, they not only got a potential franchise quarterback that the team has been missing for decades in addition to a new face of the franchise, but they instantly made the rest of the roster better.
It would take much more effort—although it would still be possible—to argue the point that an offensive lineman or defensive back drafted No. 2 overall would make the rest of the team around him better. But when you have a QB whose talent level far surpasses anything this franchise has had in the spot for years now, you can legitimately say the rest of the team has gotten better.
I'm going to take a look at five Redskins in particular that improved the moment that RGIII was drafted.
First: I know what you're thinking, "There's nothing in the world that could make Rex Grossman improve...although he has a tremendous amount of room for it!"
But Grossman is finally in a role that suits him best—not on the field.
This isn't to say he is completely useless; he's not. What it means is that he can make a much greater impact to our team from the backup role.
If Grossman is anything, he is experienced. Having played in the league for what seems like ages and starting in a Super Bowl, the former Florida QB has the tenure needed to help show RGIII the ropes. He can help polish him in the film room, be a second set of eyes for him from the sideline and be an honest supporter.
Grossman knows that even if something catastrophic were to happen to RGIII injury-wise, Mike Shanahan likes Kirk Cousins and there's a chance that they may throw him in instead of Grossman.
From the team's perspective, Grossman can't do any real damage from the sidelines during a game. So that's a definite improvement.
But there's also the case of John Beck's 2011 offseason to consider here. Beck's popularity and mystique grew to a fever pitch last summer when he came out in the media, telling everyone he considered himself the starter.
The more he talked and the less he actually played on the field, the more and more people thought of him talent-wise. It wasn't until he actually started to play in real games that people immediately remembered how talentless he really was.
Next offseason, if Rex Grossman never plays a down this year but says all the right things and helps RGIII have a successful rookie campaign, I promise you there will be some team out there desperate enough at the quarterback position to give him another shot.
The league suffers from the recency error. However, if Grossman is called into limited action in 2012 and continues to stink it up, he may be on his last NFL contract.
While I personally think the jury is still out on Jammal Brown's viability as the starting right tackle for the Redskins, I think the selection of RGIII bought Brown some more time on the roster.
I've spent the last few months outlining Brown's struggles to stay healthy and to find a spot on this roster for his heavy price tag, so I won't rehash any of that here.
However, all signs are pointing to Brown at least having a chance to start this year's training camp reasonably healthy.
What Jammal Brown will benefit most from this season is an athletic quarterback who can escape the rush and cover up for deficiencies along the offensive line. This is especially apparent with the right tackle position.
RGIII will not only be able to feel the pressure coming from the strong-side, but he'll be able to see if Brown's broken down in his pass protection. We may see RGIII slide up into the pocket and play much taller along the line if Brown is continually letting in pressure.
It might not result in Brown allowing sacks because of RGIII's capability, but it will wreak havoc with the timing of the downfield passing game. Either way, the former Baylor QB's speed and agility will most certainly bail out Jammal Brown this year.
The NFL's version of the Iron Man, London Fletcher is another Redskin who immediately improved when the team drafted Robert Griffin III.
The only on-field improvement that I''ll argue Fletcher will enjoy this year because of RGIII is the amount of time he is actually on the field.
The offense with Rex Grossman at quarterback last year—and John Beck, for that matter—suffered from a consistent number of three-and-outs. Many of these short series would come on the heels of a long defensive stand in which London Fletcher and crew were on the field for a significant period of time. This was also compounded with the number of interceptions Grossman threw last year.
At 37 years of age, Fletcher's still got a great motor. However, it would be nice not to burn him out too quickly by sustaining drives on offense. Better execution of the offense will keep Fletcher on the sidelines longer and hopefully keep him playing at a high level.
Beyond the on-field improvement, Fletcher is also benefiting from the team drafting RGIII in that he had something to return to if he resigned with the team. As a free agent, Fletcher was able to visit and sign with any other team in the league if he saw fit. However, with the team pulling off the blockbuster trade to land the RGIII pick at No. 2, Fletcher had even more incentive to resign.
Now he's got a chance to be a part of something really special; and play a major role in RGIII's development as an NFL player, a Washington Redskin and a man. If I played as hard as Fletcher does and I was three years away from my 40th birthday with another year of Rex Grossman to look forward to, I'd seriously consider signing elsewhere.
Thankfully, Fletcher's in a great position now to possibly enjoy some success at the end of his career—we hope—on the same level that he began his career with.
Leonard Hankerson showed flashes of his potential midway through the season in 2011 and was making good progress. Unfortunately, a hip injury would shut Hankerson down following the game against Miami.
Now with his February surgery behind him, Hankerson is looking to come back at full strength for training camp.
If there's one thing that'll make life easier for a receiver, it's an accurate and reliable quarterback. With the team drafting RGIII, they made it clear that the offense must and will improve. Now Hankerson and rest of the receiving corps will see a significant change in their roles this season.
The addition of a mobile quarterback with world class speed will add a dangerous dynamic to the Redskins offense. And at the same time, Washington's receivers will have a new set of responsibilities. This year the wideouts will have to account for RGIII making plays outside of the pocket and adjusting their routes accordingly.
Another positive with the switch from Grossman to RGIII is that the receivers will all have an equal shot at getting a pass thrown their way. Grossman tended to lock onto a single receiver under pressure and down the stretch last season, and we saw almost every crucial pass go Jabar Gaffney's way.
With the intangibles that RGIII brings, look for there to be a number of holes in the opposition's defense and for a good distribution in the passing game this year.
Assuming health is not an issue going forward, Hankerson has the potential to form a deadly passing tandem with RGIII that could be extremely productive for years to come.
There's been some talk amongst fans and media alike that if the offense didn't improve in 2012, Kyle Shanahan could be on the way out.
Mike Shanahan is in an awkward position with his son as the offensive coordinator, but if the team continued to under produce with the ball, it would be hard not to justify replacing him.
But the addition of RGIII was like giving a whole new set of tools to a carpenter. RGIII adds a ton of new dimensions to the Redskins' playbook that Kyle and Mike can incorporate into their play calling. As funny as it would have been to see it happen, there was no way Grossman or Beck or any QB on the roster last year was running the option. Even roll-outs looked laboring for Hefty Rexy.
But now the team has a world-class runner with a cannon for an arm under center that can make plays we've never seen a 'Skins passer do before.
For years we've heard about how the system Kyle ran in Houston was so QB friendly and that it made Matt Schaub look better than he really is. Well now is the time for Kyle to take the best of his system and the best of what RGIII does and blend them into a dangerous package that will take the Redskins out of the NFC East cellar.
If Kyle Shanahan can facilitate Robert Griffin III's ascension to NFL star, he may just be able to parlay that into a head coaching job in the NFL.
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