“He’s the starter. Period. Any time you pick a player with the second pick of the draft and you give up another two No. 1’s and No. 2 and you move up four spots, you’ve got a gam eplan in mind. We’re going to adjust our system to what he feels comfortable with, and we’ll watch him grow, and we’ll do what we feel like he does the best.”
With the above statement, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan handed Robert Griffin III the keys to the franchise. To be truthful, a lot of what he said there makes sense. You don’t give up the kinds of assets Washington did and give Griffin a hat, clipboard and a spot on the bench. However, as old-fashioned as I might be, I’m still of the belief that a young quarterback should be a spectator as a rookie. He should hold a clipboard. He should learn from a guy that some may view as less talented than him. And he should be a sponge, soak up the playbook and all the intangibles that come with being QB1 at the next level.
But when you have a coach who is undoubtedly on the hot seat and just gave up quite a bounty (no pun intended) to acquire the “future of the franchise,” the future usually means right now.
It was no big surprise that Shanahan anointed RG3 with the starter tag just a week after being drafted. To play Rex Grossman in the season opener would be like telling a kid teenager who was just given a Porsche to stick with the Corolla for another year first. The backlash from the fans would be outrageous. So to anyone who thought that the announcement by Shanahan was shocking…well, I find that shocking.
But I have to ask myself if the franchise is setting Robert Griffin III up to fail.
Before I expound on that thought, I want to reiterate that I am not denying Griffin’s talents in the least. I live in Texas, so I knew about RG3 long before he became the national media darling he is today. The kid is a hell of a talent and he has all the tools and the right stuff between the ears to make it in the NFL. Now that that is out of the way, I’ll continue.
There have been quite a few players coming out of college that looked like “can’t miss” quarterback prospects that were thrust into the starting role a bit too quickly. Look at Andre Ware; he was labeled a “sure thing” at the next level. But Detroit decided to throw him in there early and within four years, he was out of the league. The list of guys like this go on and on. David Carr, Joey Harrington, Tim Couch, Cade McNown, David Klingler, Akili Smith, Heath Shuler, Todd Marinovich, JaMarcus Russell and, of course, our old buddy Ryan Leaf.
I could go on and on naming stud quarterback prospects this has happened to and can even point to some of those guys names when you say “but RG3 is different.” At one point, someone said the same about most of the guys I listed there.
The truth is, we don’t know before he plays a game. But to simply name him the starter before we even get to organized team activities seems premature. We all knew he was going to be the starter due to the price they paid for him. And some guys make it in the league as a rookie starter.
Cam Newton shut up all of his critics last year as a rookie, but he does seem to be more the exception than the rule. But if I’m being completely honest here, and I’m sorry Carolina fans, Griffin is going to a much better situation than Cam was. He has a better defense in place and many more threats in the receiving game.
But even if he’s going to get the nod, I hate coach Shanahan putting that type of pressure on the kid. Even if it’s a complete lie, say that he’s going to be in contention for a starting spot or something of that nature. To simply hand him the role might be putting too much pressure on him. But knowing what I know about the kid, I’m still on the side of the ball that thinks he’ll succeed. Even Shanahan might not be able to mess this one up.