Moral wins aren’t something people look up to very much, but it feels Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins didn’t take the 23-27 loss to the New York Giants as too much of a defeat. For them and especially him, they way they played and hung in with the NFL champions proved this team is ready to win now.
And Griffin is the main reason for the turnaround in more than ability. The attitude, the enthusiasm, the belief. There is no talk about a learning curb and adjusting to the new league. Griffin came out with guns blasting on his first performance – 320 yards and two touchdowns passes on something that was very close to perfect.
His 138 yards of rushing against the Minnesota Vikings were probably his most extraordinary feat this season so far, leading the Redskins to their first home win. But his performance against the New York Giants was just as impressive. His ability to keep his cool. Make the right choices in protecting himself; and of course that unpredictablity factor he has when the ball is in his hands. Griffin finished with 20-28 for 258 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while running for 89 yards more.
This season, he’s third among the NFL quarterbacks in passer rating with 101.8. It’s not that he’s limiting himself or being limited by Mike Shanahan. Griffin is simply one of those guys who hardly tries to force anything (3 interceptions in first 7 games) and makes the right decisions. He builds up towards big plays with a lot of little ones. A smart, level headed rookie, which doesn’t fall into the usual first-year traps. He leads the NFL in yards per attempt with 8.47, completing an NFL best 70.4% of his passes. Not what you expect from a rookie.
His other factor? The running factor? Griffin has gone for 468 yards so far, 12th in the NFL. He has scored six touchdowns, second in the NFL. A problem is the fumbling, with five so far this season, but he’s averaging 7.3 yards per carry, much better than Cam Newton and tied with C.J. Spiller for the top spot. He won’t reach Newton’s 4000 yard mark, but he’ll probably beat his rushing yards (706) number from last season.
The impressive thing about Griffin is his talk about winning, and now. Not just for him, but for the team, the city, understanding the importance of the Redskins in Washington, and for his older teammates.
There are guys on this team that don’t have three, four years to wait for me to develop and continue to use the excuse that I’m a young quarterback. London Fletcher doesn’t have that many years. Hall is a guy that, based on history, doesn’t have a ton of years left in his career, so I wanted them to know that I was going to come in and try to be ready as soon as possible, and I think I’ve done that.
And by no means am I there, and I continue to get better, but I don’t hold myself to a rookie-type of mindset. If I throw a pick, it’s not because I’m a rookie. It’s because I made a mistake. That’s how I look at it.
That’s the big difference between Griffin and a whole lot of other rookies. Maybe it’s because he landed on an NFC East team, which usually means there’s no rebuilding times and the expectations are always high. The situation always matters. But Griffin is in the right kind of situation, and probably organization for him. One that was anxiously waiting for a quarterback to save it from mediocrity. There’s plenty to work on himself and for the team to upgrade around him, but it looks like everyone made the right choice.