Good things come in small packages, according to the proverb. But for the Washington Redskins, a great thing has come in a much larger, 6'2", 217-pound package.
Robert Griffin III, or RGIII as he is adoringly known as in the sports world, has already shown why he is definitely one for the future. As for the present, both his quarterback rating and his passer rating come in 21.8 points above their respected averages. He's doing just fine.
After Sunday's loss to the New York Giants, the Redskins fell to 3-4 overall and 0-1 in the NFC East. But, just a week shy of midseason, this game was the perfect benchmark to evaluate RGIII against his preseason hype, and it points to a few reasons the Redskins will be successful against Pittsburgh and Carolina in the coming weeks.
Sunday's loss came with that touch of irony that sports just somehow seems to stir. In July, Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora rather infamously put Griffin and his fancy nickname on trial, claiming that he had yet to earn such a cool nickname in the NFL. In addition to that jab, Osi also landed a decent right hook by calling him "Bob," presumably for the name's bland nature and lack of identity.
And, since we are using boxing analogies, it is worth noting the point made by NFL.com writer Kareem Copeland: "Muhammad Ali famously punished Floyd Patterson in the ring for calling him Cassius Clay."
It wasn't quite that brand of punishment on Sunday, but despite the Redskins 23-27 loss, RGIII went 20-of-28 (71.4 percent) and threw for 258 yards, all culminating in two TDs and just one interception. That is better than his counterpart, Super Bowl champ Eli Manning, who completed 26-of-40 (65 percent) and threw two picks and just one TD.
RGIII looks worthy of his nickname by these numbers.
So, Umenyiora can hardly have complaints. But, just in case Osi is the stubborn kind who hates to admit he is wrong, RGIII will prove exactly what he is worth in his next two outings: away to the 3-3 Pittsburgh Steelers and home to the 1-5 Carolina Panthers.
Against a perfectly mediocre Steelers side, RGIII will put up numbers consistent to that of his performance against a Giants side that ranks ninth in tackles and 12th in sacks. So, think what he will do against Pittsburgh, who ranks a lowly 29th in tackles, 24th in sacks and has only three interceptions on the year.
It all spells danger in big, bold letters for the Steelers. Given time to sit in the pocket, Griffin will be able to scan the field and either pick a throw (and deliver, as he has shown he can) or see a hole develop and take off running like he's not even sure if he's the QB or the running back.
His performance against the Giants also suggests that he is one for the occasion and doesn't feel the pressure of visiting the bigger names or throwing down against some champion QBs. Expect to see the Redskins leave with a big away win and a few more TD passes for the rookie.
But while the media and a neutral viewer will want to see these fine performances against the bigger names like the Giants and the Steelers, it is equally important for a young rookie QB like RGIII to just take care of business as usual on a more casual Sunday. Against a struggling Carolina Panthers side, RGIII and the Redskins will just want a professional victory: Come out, get a lead and make smart, mature decisions to close out the game.
With two wins in the upcoming weeks, the Redskins will springboard the .500 mark. And for RGIII it will prove to be the crowning jewel in earning a nickname we are going to hear a lot of in years to come.
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