1. Most of you know me as the insufferable optimist that is just as likely to rationalize away a year or two of Rex Grossman as I am to give a player like Andray Blatche one too many chances. The Most Exciting Player in Football has ended his pleasantly plump reign and I can officially say that I am all the way done with Blatche. But one other thing about me is starting to rear its ugly head. As each week goes by, I seem to be ratcheting up my own expectations of Robert Griffin III. It's like I'm bidding against myself in an auction, bound and determined to not allow myself to defeat myself. Each week comes with increased expectations, as if the previous week's visions of RG3 grandeur were simply not good enough. At this rate, by the time the season opens, I will be completely let down if he isn't some freakish combination of Joe Montana and Jim Brown.
2. So...about RG3...yeah...how many rushing yards is too many rushing yards to predict for this guy? The top rushing quarterbacks in 2011 were Cam Newton, Tim Tebow and Mike Vick. They were all within the range of 600-700 yards, and each of these guys are legit rushing threats--as opposed to a guy like Aaron Rodgers, who was the fourth-ranked quarterback rusher (based on what I see on NFL.com). Rodgers is a mobile, athletic guy, but you would not lump him in with Cam, Timmy or Mike as a slasher and dasher on the ground. I think RG3 would fall into that category--certainly closer to those guys than he is to Rodgers.
3. I have no problem taking the over on 500 yards rushing for Griffin. I can hear many of you thinking this is a no-brainer, as this represents just a hair over 30 yards per game over the course of the regular season. But when you expose a guy like Griffin every week in the ground game, other things start to happen. Injuries and defensive adjustments are the main "things" that come to mind. Despite the fact that RG3 is capable of running for 500 yards over 16 games in his sleep, professional defenses are going to have their say. Mike Shanahan is going to utilize Griffin's athleticism, but he will have to be careful not overexpose his quarterback.
4. My question-in-a-question to you guys is: What percentage of Griffin's rushing yards comes on designed runs as opposed to scrambling? The right answer is: "Who cares?" But I was hoping to have that discussion because I think if Griffin can get the majority of his rushing yards on designed plays, it will mean (obviously) that we are dictating to defenses what we are doing. If Griffin is busy piling up rushing yards while running for his life, I think we might all agree that it means we are likely not having a good season.
5. We are all looking forward to that play in 2012 where Griffin drops back to pass, sees things break down either at the line of scrimmage or sees coverage he simply doesn't like and then takes off. Everyone in the stadium will be on their feet--if it is at FedEx, those people will be holding their breath. These plays are okay, and in fact are what makes players like Griffin so special and coveted. If these are the plays we are counting on to win games this year, we are in trouble. For every walk-off touchdown run that lives for eternity on ESPN, there will be two or three or ten bone-crushing hits absorbed by Griffin that will take their toll.
6. All this leads to my rushing yards prediction for RG3: I am putting my money on 800 yards. I got here by giving RG3 an average of 50 yards per game on the ground. The way I figure, Mike and Kyle Shanahan will give Griffin roughly five true rushing attempts per game (total wild speculation--Mike Shanahan tells me nothing). Newton got 7.9 yards per attempt. Tebow came in with a whopping 8.7 yards per attempt and Mike Vick had a respectable 5.8--the average of these is roughly 7.5 yards per attempt (these don't distinguish between scrambling and designed play I don't think). If Griffin can get around seven yards per rushing attempt on designed rushing plays, I can see him adding the remaining yards on scrambles. If he gets to 800 yards, that would represent a VERY good year. Check back in a few weeks...I can already hear another bidder that sounds a lot like me suggesting I am underestimating this by a lot.