Robert Griffin III is this generation's Michael Vick, but he'd be wise to learn from Vick's mistakes, rather than try to match his career highlight reel.
Blessed with a rocket for an arm, pinpoint accuracy and world-class speed—just like Vick before him—RG3 can do things on the football field that most quarterbacks couldn't do in their wildest dreams.
Unless he learns from Vick's mistakes, though, Griffin won't reach the lofty heights of NFL immortality.
So, what can RG3 learn from Vick's mistakes?
Don't Be Afraid To Check Down
Vick has been a boom/bust player his entire career, mostly because that's the way he's chosen to play the game. He always had enough accuracy to run an efficient offense, but he's constantly looking to hit a home run, rather than settling for a bunch of singles and doubles.
Either Vick's going to hit one out of the park, or he's going to strike out.
Before the 2012 season began, it seemed Vick had figured out that he's not going to help his team with this strategy, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, saying:
Sometimes I've got to control it. It gets me in trouble. My coach will tell you I'm so competitive and I want to win it so much that I go that extra mile. But sometimes I put myself in bad situations doing it. I love it, but I got to learn how to put it back in the holster.
RG3 should frame that quote and hang it in his locker. If Vick won't listen to his own wisdom, at least someone can make some use out of it.
Griffin can't fall in love with his own playmaking abilities like Vick has done throughout the years. The only thing it will ever accomplish long term is that he'll get badly injured and/or start turning the ball over the way that Vick has been.
With his accuracy and smarts, RG3 should be able to keep drives alive by playing smart football, taking what the defense gives him and by not being afraid to complete the short passes that have kept the chains moving for hundreds of lesser-talented quarterbacks throughout the history of the NFL.
Learn When To Slide
Vick has suffered some painful injuries that didn't have to happen.
Throughout his career, he's always been looking to gain that extra yard, even at the expense of his own body. And, while I applaud his courage and competitive nature, quarterbacks in the NFL have to learn at some point that discretion is the better part of valor.
The real truth for Vick and for RG3 is that all their playmaking abilities mean nothing if they aren't on the field to lead their teams.
Hopefully, Griffin's encounter with Sean Weatherspoon in Week 5 was the only lesson he'll need to amend his ways. He foolishly tried to get into the end zone, even though bigger, stronger men were baring down on him like a couple of rhinos, and he paid the price with a concussion.
Griffin may be blessed with athletic abilities most humans can't fathom, but he's no Superman.
Treat the Football Like It's Made of Pure Gold
Throughout Vick's career, he's thrown 80 interceptions and has fumbled the ball 85 times in 117 career games. His turnover problems have surprisingly gotten worse in the past two seasons, as he's thrown 26 interceptions and has fumbled the ball 19 times in the past 19 games.
If RG3 learns to take both of the first two lessons to heart, he'll keep his turnovers down.
So far in his rookie season, Griffin has only thrown two interceptions in six games, but he's fumbled the ball five times, though not all were recovered by the defense.
NFL defenders are exponentially faster and stronger than the guys RG3 faced in college. He tends to run with the football outside of his body, like a sprinter with a baton. That's a recipe for turnovers in the NFL.
If Griffin doesn't learn to tuck that ball into his body like a running back, he's going to have turnover issues plague his career.
If RG3 puts these principles into action, he'll surpass Vick in every single way. If he fails to do so, he'll waste all the talent God gave him and go down as one of the biggest disappointments in NFL history.
I'm betting on wisdom winning out in this case.