Robert Griffin III's Health Drastically Changes Balance of Power in NFC East

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIAugust 28, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 24: Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins warms up before playing the Buffalo Bills during a preseason game at FedExField on August 24, 2013 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Robert Griffin III is healthy and will start for the Washington Redskins in Week 1, reports Adam Schefter of, and his health throughout the upcoming season will be what decides which team comes out on top in the NFC East.

Griffin's remarkable rookie season led the Redskins to the division crown in 2012, as a 10-6 record was just enough to beat out the New York Giants at 9-7. Many experts expected Griffin to have a major impact on a franchise that had not had a great quarterback since Joe Theismann, but few predicted the type of poise he'd display in leading his team.

Now, his health will be put to the test. A devastating ACL injury in the fourth quarter of a 24-14 playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks put his status for the beginning of this season in question, but his rigorous rehab process and lofty goals have propelled him to a Week 1 start.

Griffin's health should scare the remaining teams in the NFC East. A Redskins team without him isn't nearly as potent offensively. Without taking anything away from fellow second-year quarterback Kirk Cousins, Griffin is hands down the most dynamic quarterback in the division.

Eli Manning, Michael Vick and Tony Romo are all skilled as playmakers, but Griffin can make plays with both his feet and his legs. Manning doesn't run, Vick isn't always the most accurate of passers and Romo's mobility mirrors that of a poor man's Griffin.

Cousins did impress in three games (one start) last season. He led Washington to victory in his only start and compiled a 68.8 completion percentage in 48 attempts. He threw four touchdowns and three interceptions.

While Cousins was able to rush three times for 22 yards, his running ability can't even hold a candle to Griffin's. Griffin's explosiveness can lead the Redskins to an 11-win season in 2013, whereas Cousins' lack of starting experience could make the team regress.

Prior to the Week 1 announcement made by Schefter, there was uncertainty in regards to the NFC East. With four talented squads that had solid offseasons, predicting a winner proved to be no easy task.

The New York Giants have missed the playoffs in three of the past four seasons, but it's hard to count out a team with Manning, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, a solid front line on defense and Tom Coughlin.

The Dallas Cowboys are always among the league's most dynamic offenses, but late-game and late-season heroics have never been Romo's strong suit.

The Philadelphia Eagles are a team with a new head coach (Chip Kelly) and new offensive layout. Kelly named Vick his starting quarterback over guys like Nick Foles and Matt Barkley, so it's obvious that he's committed to an offense similar to the one he had in Oregon. The NFL hasn't always been kind to that type of offense, so it'll be interesting to see how it pans out.

If Griffin weren't able to suit up for several games this season, then the Redskins may not even be in the discussion for top teams in the division. Now that he's healthy, though, Washington shoots straight up to the top of the rankings.

Last season's version of Griffin (one that threw just five interceptions and accounted for 27 total touchdowns) would have been enough to rank his team ahead of their rivals. A more mature, second-year Griffin can bring the team to new heights.

They might not be on the same level as the Seahawks or San Francisco 49ers just yet, but Washington can make a name for itself in the NFC if Griffin remains on the field. Calling them NFC East favorites with Griffin under center is a pretty safe assessment.