Robert Griffin III: Rookie QB Due for Fantasy Letdown vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Mike HoagCorrespondent IISeptember 20, 2012

ST LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 16:  Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins lunges over the goal line for a touchdown as strong safety Craig Dahl #43 of the St. Louis Rams defends during the game against the St. Louis Rams at Edward Jones Dome on September 16, 2012 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Robert Griffin III will struggle against the Cincinnati Bengals in a game in which most experts expect him to rack up fantasy points and lead his Washington Redskins to victory.

If there were ever such a thing as a trap game, the Redskins’ Week 3 home matchup against the Bengals is it. The 'Skins are coming off a disappointing loss to a shaky St. Louis Rams team during which they lost defenders Adam Carriker and Brian Orakpo for the season.

After suffering a shellacking at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens, the Bengals narrowly escaped a late upset bid by the Cleveland Browns and their rookie quarterback, Brandon Weeden.

Analysis and conventional wisdom suggests Griffin is set for an explosion if Weeden was able to bounce back and throw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns.

There are a couple reasons why you should be skeptical. Nothing is a sure thing, and—just as no one expected Griffin’s immediate rise to the top of the rookie quarterback crop—surprises happen in the NFL every Sunday.


Defense, Defense, Defense

The Bengals play in a conference and on a roster prided in competent defense. The 2012 season may not be going in the right direction, but head coach Marvin Lewis is a seasoned veteran who has plenty of experience against both Mike Shanahan and mobile quarterbacks.

Additionally, the Bengals defense has been underperforming to this point and is looking for a statement game in order to make up for their poor play. Who better to make that statement against than a rookie quarterback and an offense predicated on quick-release passing plays?

On the other side of the ball, the Redskins’ loss of Carriker and Orakpo for the season presents a problem for the team moving forward. This does not directly affect Griffin, but it could come into play in regards to the team’s offensive game plan.

In addition to those injuries, cornerback Josh Wilson suffered a concussion last week, and safety Brandon Meriweather is questionable and has not played yet this season.

If the Redskins cannot stop the Bengals offense, which torched a pretty good Cleveland Browns secondary a week ago, it may put Griffin in an unfamiliar situation in which he is playing from behind and forced to play in a pass-first offense without the added threat of a running game.

RGIII hasn’t shown that he has the ability to put his team on his shoulders and bring it back to win a game in the fourth quarter. In fact, the team only accumulated 71 yards on 22 plays during its last five drives Sunday against the Rams.


Performance and Taking Hits

While Griffin has posted impressive fantasy numbers, the rookie quarterback began to show signs of mortality against the St. Louis Rams in his second professional start. He hasn’t digressed or shown any inclination that he is doing so, but he's a rookie and will undoubtedly trip up at some time.

Two weeks of tape are in on the rookie quarterback from Baylor, and the Bengals will not make the same mistakes that the Rams and New Orleans Saints did early on. The Bengals can attempt to pressure and spy Griffin in order to take away the quick release and fast-developing offense that Kyle Shanahan has employed for the first-year QB. 

In addition, Griffin took a walloping against the Rams last week after the team said it was going to lay it on him when he decided to tuck the ball and run. Those bumps and bruises wear on a quarterback throughout a game. The Bengals are as good as anyone at laying the hits, and they will pose a much more significant problem for the Redskins at the line of scrimmage.

If RGIII can continue his hot streak and keep the pressure on the struggling Bengals defense, he may be able to continue his success. However, there are certainly enough factors to be slightly more skeptical about the rookie’s chances this week than many would have you believe.


Mike Hoag is a Trends and Traffic writer for Bleacher Report and also covers the Cleveland Browns and the NFL for the site.