What Can Robert Griffin Learn from Cam Newton's Sophomore Slump?
Robert Griffin III needs to be taking notice of Cam Newton's sophomore slump.
The Washington Redskins rookie quarterback is following in Newton's footsteps by taking the NFL by storm during his rookie campaign. But, as we've seen from Newton so far in 2012, immediate fireworks don't necessarily translate to long-term success.
While the two quarterbacks are more different on the playing field than many casual fans realize, there are a few things RG3 can take away from Newton's fall from grace that will serve him well in the long run.
Never Put Yourself Above the Team
I can't begin to tell you how much I loathe Newton's "trademark" Superman celebration after every touchdown he scores.
Newton's touchdown celebration is fairly palatable, though, when compared to his propensity to sulk by his lonesome on the bench when things aren't going his way and his team is losing.
Newton constantly puts himself above his teammates, even if he doesn't realize he's doing so. Perhaps one of the reasons the Carolina Panthers are such a horrible team is that their quarterback doesn't know how to lead.
Quarterbacks are team leaders, whether they want the honor or not, and in the immortal words of Julius Campbell from the movie Remember the Titans, "Attitude reflects leadership."
So far, I've yet to see RG3 put himself above his team. He celebrates with his teammates when they're winning, and he doesn't pout by himself on the bench when they're losing.
He'd be wise to stay on that path.
Take What the Defense Gives You
One of the biggest reasons Newton has regressed in his sophomore campaign is that he's perpetually looking for the big play instead of taking what defenses give him. He's become an extreme boom-or-bust quarterback who lives and dies by the long pass—a terrible philosophy for young quarterbacks.
Will RG3 suffer a sophomore slump?
Thankfully, it seems like RG3 is already miles ahead of where Newton is in this regard, as he's not afraid to dump off short passes when nothing's available downfield.
Still, as defenses get to know his tendencies, and as RG3 finds himself in more situations where he's attempting to lead his team from behind, there will be tremendous temptation to look for a big play instead of settling for what is being presented to him.
It's the Little Things That Matter Most
In the NFL, quarterbacks that rely on their superior talent will always be exposed in the long run, compared to quarterbacks that work diligently on the little things like footwork and throwing mechanics.
When Newton entered the NFL last year, nobody could question his outrageous physical abilities, but there were many who wondered (myself included) if his questionable mechanics would end up becoming a problem in the future.
Five games through the 2012 season, I'm convinced that Newton's mechanics are just as bad—if not worse—than they were when he started playing last season. He constantly throws off his back foot and oftentimes throws off balance—even when he's not under pressure.
Obviously, I'm not at practice with Newton to see how much time he dedicates to his craft, but the proof is in the pudding, so to speak.
And, while RG3 has already proven to be ahead of where Newton was when he started out as it relates to mechanics, he must work his tail off to continue improving his delivery and footwork or he'll end up regressing.
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