The future of Robert Griffin III

How sustainable is RG3? Extremely so, because it starts with his arm

Originally Published: December 2, 2012
By Chris Sprow | ESPN Insider
Robert Griffin IIIAP Photo/Aaron M. SprecherRobert Griffin III has had a terrific rookie season for the Washington Redskins.

Delayed gratification hasn't been a part of the Robert Griffin III NFL experience. It was like a Bond flick -- things got crazy before the audience settled in when RG3 laid waste to the Saints in Week 1. And as we finish Week 13, the story still hasn't gotten deliberate. It remains explosive. So in a season where rookie QBs are a huge draw, even Andrew Luck's remarkable plotline hasn't managed to outshine RG3.

But this could fuel critics who believe RG3 won't age well as an NFL quarterback. Certainly not like Luck. Call it a grumpy assessment, a page from Eeyore's Quarterback Projections, but there are moments, throws and hits that make even his biggest fans wonder. They make people think of other athletically gifted QBs. They make people say, "Enjoy this now" because action flicks like this lack substance. And the critic could find some numbers to back him up.

• He'd point to Week 1, when RG3 shredded the Saints. The numbers showed dominance -- 19-26, 320 yards, a 138.9 passer rating -- but a critic would note short pass after short pass, many simply across the line of scrimmage, glorified handoffs. A critic could note that 13 weeks later, 74.6 percent of Griffin's completions this season have been less than 10 yards.

• He'd point to Week 6, when Griffin failed to get out of bounds on a scramble, and picked up a new key stat that isn't in the passer rating formula -- his first NFL concussion. What's athleticism if it gets you more involved with linebackers down the field? Is that sustainable?

• He'd then point to Week 7, when RG3 came back from that concussion and ran a season-high 13 times, including an incredible 76-yard TD run. The critic would say, "Great run, kid, but didn't last week teach you anything?" And that critic would then point out lessons not learned, because headed into this week, RG3 led all QBs with 100 run attempts, a total even the 250-plus-pound Cam Newton can't touch.

Add it up, and the critic builds his case: Great passing totals, but a penchant for thriving on the short stuff; great rushing totals, but already with a concussion in hand; a great knack for making plays, but a clear stubbornness to fall back on his legs in a league that will punish QBs who do.

The critic will thus conclude: Sure, RG3 has been incredible, but should I buy into the future?

In a word: Yes.

That's because such a case against RG3 simply doesn't hold up to a more advanced look at the tape, the numbers and the context of the situation Griffin finds himself in. It's why any critic who would claim RG3 is, say, merely a more evolved Michael Vick, is missing a guy who may become something more like Aaron Rodgers -- and isn't far off that level now.