Robert Griffin III has proven to be every bit of the explosive playmaker he was predicted to be in the weeks and months preceding the 2012 NFL draft. From his rocket arm to his breakneck speed, RGIII has wowed even his most ardent supporters with his performance thus far.
With nearly three-quarters of the season come and gone, there is plenty of game tape to re-evaluate the Washington Redskins' rookie sensation.
As a dual-threat quarterback, it was expected that Griffin would enjoy success both throwing the football and running the football. His 4.41 40-yard dash at the combine simply proved what everyone already knew about his track-star speed.
There was something effortless about his gait that doesn't scream speed until he's 15 yards down the field.
His below-average height and weight raised concerns about his durability, having already suffered a torn ACL while at Baylor, but his playing style more than his physical build has led to bumps and bruises.
His concussion came on a play where he held the ball too long, slipped and took a nasty hit from two Atlanta Falcons defenders. He is roughly the same height and weight as Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and may have more muscle than the former Super Bowl MVP.
Griffin's Heisman-winning campaign was highlighted by 37 touchdown passes and a completion percentage of 72.4. By virtue of playing in a spread offense, that statistic was quickly written off.
However, playing in the Redskins offense, which is as close to tailor-made as it can be considering the egos on the Shanahan brain trust, Griffin is still completing 67.1 percent of his passes. The total would be higher if not for the two-game stretch where Griffin's receivers dropped nearly 20 passes.
Arm strength is about as close to elite as can be for a rookie, evidenced by his 68-yard touchdown to Leonard Hankerson against St. Louis and his 61-yard touchdown to Santana Moss against Philadelphia.
Coming from a spread offense, scouts were concerned Griffin would have a difficult time adjusting to reading a defense, which hasn't been the case.
The offense has catered to that learning process, giving Griffin open looks off of play-action and moving the pocket to move defenses. However, Griffin has surprised everyone with his pocket presence, even under pressure.
His speed lends itself to escapability, but he not only finds ways to get away from pressure, he always keeps his eyes down the field. It was that veteran savvy that kept the Redskins in games late, though the comebacks have yet to come to fruition.
Twelve passing touchdowns isn't a startling total, but the lack of scoring can be attributed to the defense giving up long drives, as well as the offense stalling under the inconsistent play-calling of Kyle Shanahan.
His accuracy is not limited to dink-and-dunk passing. He has thrown picture-perfect passes to the sidelines, over the middle and deep down the field. His prettiest pass came against the New York Giants when he hit Santana Moss over the shoulder for what should have been the game-winning touchdown.
The comparison's to Michael Vick in terms of running are misinformed. Though Griffin has great speed, his is more functional than Vick's.
Vick is, by trade, a running quarterback. His numbers in the passing game are enough to support his favor of running at the first sign of trouble in the pocket.
Griffin, however, uses his speed to elude defenders and either extend plays to find the open receiver or pick up a quick five or 10 yards.
Where Griffin is dangerous, and shows how smart he is, is when he angles towards the sideline and then cuts up field for a big gain, as previously mentioned against Minnesota.
The defender had his sights on Griffin, but pulled up when he thought he would step out of bounds. Griffin turned what should have been a nice 10- or 15-yard gain into a touchdown that proved to be the difference in the final score.
Where Griffin gets himself into trouble is when he tries to extend plays where he should just throw the ball away. Griffin's ability to make plays from anywhere on the field leaves him open to big hits.
The Redskins read-option offense also exposes Griffin to unnecessary punishment, but he always pops up and jogs back to the huddle, no worse for wear. He's a smart runner, and that is what makes him dangerous.
Griffin is nothing if not a high-character individual. There were spotty rumors prior to the draft that he was a selfish player, but those have so far been unfounded in his NFL career.
He played in an offense at Baylor that had no set playbook, which makes his performance at the NFL level that much more impressive.
In the face of injuries to his best receiver and his best tight end, Griffin has managed to get the most out of players who were not expected to be featured on offense. It has limited his passing touchdowns, but not his playmaking.
There is more to Griffin's success, and potential, than his statistical production. He is candid with the media, willing to accept blame for mistakes and laud his teammates for their performances when credit is piled on his shoulders.
Rookies are trained to act the way Griffin carries himself naturally, which makes his selflessness that much more impressive.
It is no secret that the sky is the limit for Griffin, though his overall performance may be affected by the inconsistencies of his teammates. His immediate impact in the NFL, and as a member of the Washington Redskins, has been surprising for everyone.
Expectations were high to begin with, but the prospect of a rookie letdown seems foolish given what Griffin has accomplished on a questionably stocked Redskins roster.
His speed has kept him, and the offense, alive, and his arm, when allowed to, has been an invaluable weapon. However, none of his physical attributes compare to the head on his shoulders that has kept him grounded even with the accolades he has been showered with in his young career.
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