Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
I don't know about you guys, but I'm just about sick of hearing about Robert Griffin III's knee. As Redskins fans, its impossible to get away from, and will be until he's back in action. I understand he's a huge star and key to our future success, so I don't blame the beat reporters for doing their job; but given that we're only one week removed from the event and most of us are sick of talking about it, it's going to be a very long summer. A summer that will no doubt contain various reports from national and local media about how his knee is progressing. We'll hear from some sources that he's on schedule, others will say he's a major doubt to start the season on time. Some will report that he'll be good as new, while others will claim he'll never be the same and some will report that Mike Shanahan should never coach again (a ridiculous article that I refuse to link to because its intention is purely to grab headlines and draw in views).
The thing that has annoyed me the most about this whole situation is that people forget he's a quarterback first. He injured his knee, not his arm. Yes, he needs his knee to be able to drive off his back foot and throw, but all accounts suggest he'll be fine doing that. Everyone remains focused on his ability to run. Will he have his 4.3 speed again? Who knows. But I do know that he was still able to run 88 yards on 13 attempts at 6.8 yards per attempt on his sprained LCL. That's because the option scheme is designed for the quarterback to run only when the situation favors him. Griffin doesn't need his 4.3 speed to take advantage of that, as was clear towards the end of the year. I think the Pistol and the option game is here to stay, as is it's effectiveness.
But back to his arm. Griffin finished the season as a 65.6% passer with 102.4 quarterback rating. In his rookie year. That is phenomenal! Now with an entire off-season where all he can do is rehab his knee and watch film, I'm backing him to further improve on those stats next year, should he be back next season. This is a guy who has such a huge work ethic and desire to get better that when he was rehabbing from his torn ACL in college, he would spend hours throwing to his father from a wheelchair to improve his arm strength.
His knee might limit, at least initially, the elusiveness that we've come to expect from Griffin. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Without being able to necessarily fall back on his athleticism, he'll have to learn how to step up in the pocket under pressure, one of the few criticisms I had on Griffin. He has a tendency to drop further back and scramble to one side, eliminating half the field and breaking his reads. Now he has no choice but to learn how to step up in the pocket and give his tackle a chance to recover and run the defender past him. That will allow Griffin to keep his eyes downfield and reading through his progressions. Another positive of that is that if a defensive end is run past him, that breaks contain on that side and leaves a hole for Griffin to run through should everyone be covered.
With this much time on his hands, he has the opportunity to further his understanding of NFL defenses, what they are trying to do to him and how he can counter that. He'll improve his ability to recognize different coverages and blitzes and still maintain a poise to check through his progressions quickly. If he can add even a 4.5 speed running threat to that, then I feel sorry for NFL defensive coordinators.
Now I'm not saying he's going to turn into Peyton Manning or Tom Brady and I'm probably being overly positive and optimistic. But we as Redskins fans know what kind of person Robert Griffin III is. All these people doubting him and criticizing his coach (who not only paid a huge amount to draft him, but believed in him enough to leave him in his first playoff game on one leg) is going to put a pretty big chip on his shoulder. When guys like Griffin get a chip on their shoulder, they tend to make the doubters feel like idiots for what they've written/said.