Monday, October 22, 2012

Robert Griffin III is Aaron Rodgers v2.0

Right now, the 2012 NFL draft 2nd pick, Redskins QB Robert "RG3" Griffin III, looks like a better quarterback than the 2012 NFL draft 1st pick, Colts QB Andrew Luck, who is no slouch. Interesting fact: Griffin is an Army brat.

RG3 made an impressive introduction to New York Giants fans yesterday in a very close 27-23 loss to the Giants. Griffin showed off a complete skillset: solid fundamentals, electric runner, strong arm, impeccable touch, poise under adversity, decision-making ability, and clutch ability. He surveys the field well, can make all the throws, and make them under pressure. He has already mastered the play fake in the option. Since running aggressively into a concussion 2 weeks ago, he has adjusted to avoid unnecessary hits while still using his legs to buy time to pass or rush. Griffin looks like a faster version of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who is also a precision-passing, smooth, mobile quarterback. The two QBs are even the same size (6'2", 220 lbs). Some fans compare him to Eagles QB Michael Vick, who has similar gifts (strong accurate arm, electric runner), but Vick doesn't give off the calm in-control vibe that Griffin shares with Rodgers.

The Giants struggled mightily to contain the Washington Redskins' option offense, which is more impressive in light of the Giants defense's domination of the Panthers' similar Cam Newton-based option offense earlier in the season. The Giants eventually won with a string of 2nd half Redskins turnovers and yet another game-winning play by Eli Manning. As he has done often in his storied career, Manning made unforced errors, sprayed the ball (his passes constantly look 2-3 feet off target), and threw the football at the hands of overlooked defenders until his team needed him to take the win at the end, at which point he flipped a switch and turned into the robo-Superbowl-winning quarterback who is unfazed by heavy pass-rushing pressure and fits difficult deep passes into tiny windows.

Nineteen seconds before Manning hit WR Victor Cruz in stride for the game-winning catch-and-run 77-yard touchdown, RG3 led WR Santana Moss into the endzone with a perfectly thrown 30-yard lob pass for what appeared to be a comeback-winning touchdown. Earlier in the same drive, RG3 had converted a 4th-and-10 with a 19-yard pass off a scramble with the Giants' elite defensive linemen bearing down. After the Manning-to-Cruz game winner, RG3 was calmly and quickly driving the Redskins down the field again when Giant LB Chase Blackburn stripped the football from Moss to close the game.

As much as RG3 looked like Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, Rodgers is a veteran, league MVP, and Superbowl winner, while young Griffin is still a rookie. NFL defenses adapt well and quarterbacks have a long developmental curve. Some good rookie quarterbacks look strong early then plateau, like Cam Newton this year, while some bad rookie quarterbacks, like Eli Manning, look lost early then improve into reliable winners. Seven games into his young career, though, RG3 shows every indication that he will be a great one.

Bonus: Nick Javas rap recap of the Redskins-Giants game, featured on WFAN's Boomer and Carton morning show.

Eric

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