Where Does Robert Griffin III Debut Rank Among Other Quarterbacks?
The Washington Redskins went into the Superdome on Sunday afternoon and pulled out a 40-32 upset win over the New Orleans Saints in what proved to be rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III’s coming out party. The former Baylor Bears signal caller went toe to toe with Super Bowl champion and future Hall of Famer Drew Brees and came out the winner after throwing for 320 passing yards and two touchdowns yesterday. Not only did he live out a fantasy by playing and winning his first NFL game in the stadium he once lived just a few blocks away from, Griffin did so in style exhibiting a strong arm and his ability to scramble and find the open man under pressure.
Given his performance, Redskins fans are already jumping on the playoff bandwagon hoping that the team can reach the post-season for the first time since 2007. Griffin’s showing on Sunday gives us an idea of the magic that may be to come for the franchise quarterback, but it is fair to say there is much to be determined about the young gun and his team given that there are still 15 games left in the season.
Even though projections don’t necessarily mean much on paper, let’s face it, Griffin’s stats yesterday have players and fans around the league imagining the possibilities. Let’s take a look at the 10 of the top quarterbacks selected in recent drafts and how they did in their first career NFL starts (NOTE: We’re only counting STARTS here, not mere appearances)
- Robert Griffin III
o 19/26, 320 Passing Yds., 2TDs/0 INTs, 40-32 Win
o 23/45, 309 Passing Yds., 1 TD/3 INTs, 41-21 Loss
- Cam Newton 2011
o 24/37, 422 Passing Yds., 3 TDs/1 INTs, 28-21 Win
- Sam Bradford 2010
o 32/55, 253 Passing Yds., 1 TD/3 INTs, 17-13 Loss
- Matthew Stafford 2009
o 16/37, 205 Passing Yds., 0TDs/3 INTs, 45-27 Loss
- Matt Ryan 2008
o 26/40, 199 Passing Yds., 2 TDs/2 INTs, 30-24 Loss
- JaMarcus Russell 2007
o 23/31, 224 Passing Yds., 1 TDs/1 INTs, 30-17 Loss
- Vince Young 2006
o 14/29, 155 Passing Yds., 1 TD/2 INTs, 45-14 Loss
- Alex Smith 2005
o 9/23, 74 Passing Yds., 0 TDs/4 INTs, 28-3 Loss
As you can see the very best performance came last year when Cam Newton threw for over 400, rushing for a touchdown and throwing for 2 more. The Panthers franchise is setting up to be a contender in the very near future and it is safe to say Newton has cemented himself as the go to guy in Carolina. Griffin may be the only quarterback in the list above to win his first game, but its Matt Ryan who tops the list in terms of making it to the post-season as a rookie. In fairness, Ryan’s team was much more playoff ready than any other of the teams on this list, so we can’t really hold that against Griffin if the ‘Skins don’t make it.
Upsetting the Saints on the road in the opening week has got to be a major confidence boost as Washington heads to St. Louis to play the Rams in week two. They will then host the Cincinnati Bengals in their first home game of the season on September 23rd before heading back on the road to play the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. Add that altogether and the Redskins could easily be 4-0 to start the season.
The only question is, will the Redskins make the playoffs?