Robert Griffin III: Critics and Fans Exist in the Court of Public Opinion

Joe VersageCorrespondent IIOctober 17, 2012

Robert Griffin III: Critics and Fans Exist in the Court of Public Opinion

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    Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder must be licking his chops. Six weeks into the regular season, his team is just a game out of first place and Robert Griffin III is the new sheriff in town.

    But, there is a lot to be said about a rookie signal-caller, who has flown high above the radar in his inaugural season. 

    The following nine cases are good and bad examples of what's been said about Griffin, who will face the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants Sunday at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands.

    Opinions vary in the court of public opinion. So, I've decided to follow them up with judgments of my own.

Politicians Rejoice

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    Case No. 1:

    According to the news outlet Politico, President Barack Obama stated his opinion on RGIII (through a spokesman), following the Redskins 38-26 win over Minnesota last week. The President called Griffin's performance "remarkable" and commented on how his overall play has restored faith in Washington's sports franchises.

    In the meantime, Republican Senate nominee George Allen appeared in the Redskins' radio booth to cheer on the home team (per Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post).

    The ex-Virginia Governor is the son of former Washington coach George Allen and the brother of current Redskins general manager Bruce Allen. It’s also common knowledge that Dan Snyder supports the Republican Party, along with Bruce, Coach Shanahan and Redskins radio host Larry Michael. 

    "[The psychology of football] is attitude," said Allen. "It’s preparation, it’s leadership, it’s motivation, it’s teamwork. No one can do things on their own. You need to have a good game plan and execute on it."

     

    Verdict:

    The President and Mr. Allen were very kind, but they don't deserve brownie points, in my humble opinion. It's well-known that Obama is an avid Bears fan because he lived and worked in Chicago.

    As a diehard Cubs fan, he also irked some people when he rooted for the Washington Nationals during their playoff run. None of it had anything to do with his re-election campaign. Right? Of course not.    

    As for Allen, he talked jovially with Sonny, Sam and Larry in the booth. But, his intentions were kept in check, with football related questions from Jurgensen, Huff and Michael.

    George's quote above refers to teamwork, which the Redskins have used to their advantage in their 3-3 start. But like a typical politician, Allen preferred to keep the spotlight on himself. He also failed to mention Robert Griffin III's name, despite the rookie's immense popularity.

    Shame on you, Mr. Allen. You had a burgundy and gold chance to win over undecided voters and proceeded to drop the ball.   


Poor Loser

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    Case No. 2:

    The Redskins' victory over the Vikings snapped Washington's eight-game home losing streak. But RGIII's sterling performance didn't faze another Allen. Take a look at what Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen had to say about Griffin afterwards (per Sarah Kogod of The Washington Post).  

    “I’m not going to crown him anything yet,” Allen told Comcast SportsNet after Sunday’s contest. “He had a good game. Hats off to him, he ran really well. But to be great in this league, you have to do it for years and years and years. So, I wish him all the best, except next time when we play him.”

    Verdict:

    Earth to Jared. Earth to Jared. Griffin didn't just have pep in his step. He ran for two scores and set a single-game franchise record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 138.

    According to The Post, he is also the club's "leader for total rushing yards by a quarterback with 379." Even his own teammates thought he walked on water, during a 76-yard jaunt down the left sideline. The ensuing touchdown turned out to be the longest run by an NFL signal caller since 1996.

    The Washington Times actually clocked the last 40 yards of it in 4.0 seconds (per Dave Daniels of RantSports.com).

    If that's not enough to make a believer out of Allen, maybe Robert should challenge him to a race, so Jared can personally buy into the RGIII experience.  



"Tiki's Take"

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    Case No. 3:

    Former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber caused waves with a column he wrote for USA Today. In it, Barber claimed that Griffin sent the wrong message when he decided to risk further injury Sunday, following his mild concussion the week before.

    "'It’s difficult to argue that Griffin’s outstanding day was anything short of amazing,' wrote Barber. 'But if he really wanted to be an example for the game, he wouldn’t even have suited up.'"

     

    Verdict:

    Tiki has immersed himself in hot water before, for controversial opinions he has made in the past. But before we go bonkers over his comment, we should take into account the rest of his article.

    In fact, Barber did his homework on concussions and used examples to state his case. On that alone, I give him credit and appreciate his concern for a fellow athlete. But Griffin was considered questionable all the way up until game time and only played because doctors cleared him to. He certainly would have sat out, if he failed a medical test last week.

    When all was said and done, Griffin excelled, but it may not save Washington from being fined by the league. Currently, the NFL is in the process of investigating the Redskins for initially giving inaccurate and untimely information about Griffin's injury status. 


Coach's Opinion

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    Case No. 4:

    The Redskins clearly did not hold Griffin back from fully performing his duties on the playing field Sunday. Some may question RGIII for scrambling 13 times against the Vikings, but coach Mike Shanahan had an interesting take on Griffin's mobility via Fox News.  

    "Robert, by doing what he does, keeping the defense off balance, really gives him a chance, in my opinion, to stay healthier," Shanahan said.



    Verdict:

    I'm in a quandary over this one. So, I think I'll just agree and disagree. I can see Shanahan's point, and sometimes, even subtle movements can keep quarterbacks out of harm's way. But, statistics don't lie, and they don't favor scrambling quarterbacks.

    Pro Football Hall of Famers Steve Young and Roger Staubach know what it feels like to get your bell rung on numerous occasions. Both men were forced into retirement from concussions, and Staubach revealed afterwards that he suffered 16-20 of them over the course of his career.   

    Griffin will continue to be praised for his courage and heart, but the odds are stacked against a long and prosperous career, if he continues to risk himself to injury.

ESPN Ranks Griffin Ahead of Luck

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    Case No. 5:

    With the Presidential election right around the corner, opinion polls are popping up everywhere. But they are nothing new to franchise saviors like Andrew Luck and RGIII.

    Ever since the two were drafted one-two in April's draft, comparisons have been made. Now, they are displayed weekly, for the entire world to see.

    According to Ben Alamar of ESPN Insider, Griffin has had the edge in development, so far:

    Griffin and Luck currently are sixth and seventh in season-long Total QBR, ahead of both Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Griffin's 74.4 rating and Luck's 73.6 are practically indistinguishable. But looking more closely at their performances, we can see how their contributions have differed and why Griffin might be on a faster track to quarterback dominance than Luck.

     

    Verdict:

    I believe it's way too early to "crown" one over the other, because in time, they may have similar or contrasting trajectories. But for the sake of argument, I'd say Griffin has the early edge because of the talent and coaching staff that currently exists in Washington.

    Head coach Mike Shanahan has a strong track record of mentoring talented quarterbacks (i.e. John Elway, Jake Plummer and Jay Cutler). His son Kyle also succeeded in Houston with Matt Shaub. But patience is a virtue, and it would behoove the Redskins to practice it with their prized possession.    

Foot in Mouth

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    Case No. 6:

    St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson is generally a nice guy. I say that because I drafted him in my fantasy football league.

    But he acted like a jerk in a TV commercial he recently starred in. And now that he's rubbed RGIII the wrong way, I'm thinking of cutting him from my roster.

    Here's what he had to say after Griffin complained of "dirty" play by the Rams' defense.

    “It’s not the Big 12,” said Jackson, via Mike Florio of NBC's Pro Football Talk. “I don’t think we’re a dirty team.  I think we’re a team that’s hungry, young and eager and ready to make a turnaround in the franchise.”

     

    Verdict:

    It's certainly not the Big 12, Steven. But Griffin has played with no fear and has hit more milestones in six games than some quarterbacks achieve in their careers.

    Welcome to fantasy's unemployment line, Jacko. It was nice knowing you.



Snide Substitute

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    Case No. 7:

    The 1-4 New Orleans Saints started off the season with four straight losses under interim head coach Aaron Kromer.

    Normally, I would cut Kromer a break because he has had a tough row to hoe, in place of suspended Saints’ coaches Sean Payton and Joe Vitt. But after falling short against Washington, he failed to give Griffin the credit that he deserved.  

    “You’re always anticipating with RGIII that he’s going to be running the ball. I don’t think they did anything that we didn’t anticipate,” said Kromer, via Mark Maske of The Washington Post.

     

    Verdict:

    Kromer and the Saints may have prepared for Griffin's direction of the Redskins offense, but as Maske pointed out "they couldn't stop it" in a 40-32 loss. 

    Perhaps, Kromer should have taken notes from classy Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who said “I thought [RGIII] was extremely impressive…It looked like he was making a lot of plays with his arm and with his feet."

    That's high praise from a superstar like Brees, especially after a rookie outplayed him in his own stadium on opening day. 


Cowboys' Blogger Raves over RGIII

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    Case No. 8:

    WFAA (Dallas) Sports Blogger Amanda Cobra said it best.

    "[Griffin] didn’t silence his critics [against New Orleans] as much as he turned them into jaw-dropped fanboys over the course of four quarters. [He] not only showed composure and maturity—he never seemed intimidated. Of course, as a Cowboys fan, this terrifies me. I can handle the Eagles squeaking out a victory over the not-quite-intimidating Browns, but the Redskins handing a surprise upset to the Saints in the Superdome, all with a Baylor Bear at the helm? Truly frightening."

     

    Verdict:

    When a Cowboys fan exults this type of praise on a rookie signal-caller, it makes the Redskins look like geniuses for trading two future first-round draft picks and a second-rounder.

    This Dallas fan also added that "the Cowboys-Redskins Thanksgiving Day matchup will be exponentially more exciting."

    You bet it will, and Dallas owner Jerry Jones will have a front-row seat in his $1.3 billion backyard.

    Now, please click forward to our final slide for "The Best of the Rest" on RGIII.

The Best of the Rest

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    Case No. 9:

    We'll close out our slide show with some of the more intriguing compliments RGIII has earned over the past few days. 

    They came from Hall of Famers, teammates, famous fans and Washington's next opponent, the New York Giants.

    We start with former Raiders coach John Madden, via Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post:

    Did you see him last week? I mean, go down the sideline? I have never, in the history of football, I have never seen a quarterback ever run that fast. I know that that’s what the Giants are thinking. I mean, they’re looking at that and they’re saying, whoo, or wow, or we can’t let that guy do that to us. So that takes a lot away from your defense, whether it’s real or imagined.

    Griffin's teammate, former Redskins' starter and current third-stringer Rex Grossman was overly enthusiastic when asked about RGIII's elusiveness against the Vikings (per Mike Wise of 106.7 The Fan , via Steinberg of The Washington Post).

    I mean, once he got the edge, he was gone. And that is the coolest thing in the world. I wish I could run a 4.3. That would be SO cool! I was just in awe. I’d been waiting to see him actually get separation and actually turn it on. He is a lot better than I thought he was, and I thought he was great. He’s got all the potential in the world. I’m excited to be a part of it. He’s a very good person, good teammate. So things are looking bright in Washington.

    The Twitter universe was buzzing about RGIII too. Click here to view some of the tweets. 

    Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich chimed in with an awkward comparison between Griffin and former President Bill Clinton. 

    And finally, there were words of advice for Griffin from New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, per The New York Daily News (via Sarah Kogood of The Washington Post).

    Don’t bring it to my side. Go the other way. Trust me, we chase quarterbacks all the time. We turn and run to the ball, no matter what. He may get past us and zoom right past us, but trust me we’re right behind him. You’ve got to respect that, too. It’s not all about the speed. We’ve got guys, all 11 guys that can run to the ball very quick.

     

    Verdict:

    I can imagine Coach Madden's mannerisms, as he was stating his case for RGIII. The NFL on television hasn't been the same since he retired from the broadcast booth. To read more of what Madden had to say, click on this link. And trust me, there's a lot more great stuff from the Hall of Fame coach.

    Cheers to Grossman for his unselfishness during the transition to the RGIII era. Rex should be commended by fans, the team and the media for it.

    Newt was not being Newt. So, you have to guess that he had a hidden agenda.

    And Pierre-Paul will likely get a tongue-lashing from head coach Tom Coughlin. Coughlin has a pair of Super Bowl rings with the Giants, but he doesn't take kindly to bulletin board fodder for an opponent to chew on during game week.

    Griffin will run to your side, Jason. You can count on it.

    Catch him if you can.

     

    Joe Versage is an NFL Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He previously covered the Buffalo BillsWashington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens as a television beat reporter. Follow him on Twitter at: @JoeVersage Takip et: @JoeVersage