In his rookie debut, Robert Griffin III threw for over 300 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. However, what was most impressive about his performance was that he won the game and didn't turn the ball over—two things that Cam Newton couldn’t do in his rookie debut.
RG3's first three games shouldn’t decide whether or not he’s a better quarterback than Newton though. That’d be unfair to Newton, who already has an entire NFL season under his belt.
The question then should be: What can RG3 do to have a better rookie season than Newton? It seems to me that there are two specific criteria.
First, RG3 will have to maintain his impressive stats throughout the season by being more consistent than Newton. Second, RG3 will have to win more games than Newton did in his rookie season. This may seem quite simple, but let me elaborate.
RG3 will need to maintain his stats, and one way of accomplishing this task is through consistency. Newton—who threw for over 4,000 yards, scored 35 touchdowns and rushed for over 700 yards— wasn't consistent in every game he played last season. In fact, Newton threw 17 interceptions last season, yet in some of those games he didn't turn the ball over.
In order for RG3 to put up numbers that are comparable to Newton’s (or even better than Newton’s), he’ll need to be more consistent than Newton. With that said, if RG3 keeps doing what he’s doing and doesn't turn the ball over as much as Newton, he should have better stats than Newton.
RG3 also has to win more games than Newton. But that doesn't mean RG3 only has to lead his team to a 7-9 record to be considered better than Newton—since Newton led his team to a 6-10 record in his rookie season. It's more complicated than that.
Last season, the Redskins went 5-11 without a franchise quarterback (like RG3). This record should be comparable to the 2-14 record the Panthers had in 2010 (the season before the Panthers drafted Newton).
Newton helped his team win four more games in 2011 and we should expect RG3 to win as many (or even more) games in his rookie season. That means, RG3 should lead his team to a 9-7 or, better yet, a 10-6 record.
Some might argue that this is unfair to ask of RG3. But keep in mind that the Redskins were 5-8 behind Rex Grossman last season, and RG3 is a better quarterback than Grossman.
In fact, some argue that RG3 is the most exciting quarterback the Redskins have had in two decades. If that’s true, then it’d seem that RG3 is not only capable of winning more games than Grossman, he's also capable of winning more games than Newton.
We shouldn’t look at the criteria as if the two are completely separate. When the Panthers found a recipe for success last season they learned that mitigating turnovers, throwing the ball less and running the ball more led to more wins.
The Redskins seemed to have already discovered their recipe for success in their recent win over the Saints. If Griffin sticks to the same game plan and puts up consistent stats, that should also lead him to not only more wins, but a rookie season that’s even more remarkable than Newton’s.
As of right now, Griffin has passed for 747 yards, scored seven touchdowns and has only thrown one interception. Unfortunately. the Redskins' record is already 1-2, which means Griffin already has a lot of work to do.
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