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Unfair Criticism of Robert Griffin III?

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Are Critics Being Too Harsh on Robert Griffin III?

Patrick McDermott

I've been reading so many comments lately about how disappointed the fan base is with Robert Griffin III's play and attitude this season, and so far, I've attempted to keep relatively quiet on the subject, but It has now reached a point where I feel some things need to be addressed.

There were many people who didn't like the Redskins decision to move up in the 2012 draft, and trade away what they did to acquire Griffin; I get that. Lately, however, I feel our own fan base(obviously with the help of the hundred plus talking-heads in the media/networks)is beginning to get down on him, and his retractors, those who were against trading up to get him, almost seem like they are wanting him to fail, so they can say, "I told you so". I sincerely hope this is not the case, but I can't help but feel there are those fans out there that feel this way.

I am not about to sit here and blow smoke up your ass, trying to say Griffin should not be at all responsible for the woes of the season to this point. I believe he hasn't played particularly well as a whole throughout the season, and we obviously haven't seen the dynamic runner, and accurate passer we all saw during his rookie campaign. But, I do feel that the critics(and there are many), are coming down too hard on the young signal caller.

Remember, the second year player suffered a serious knee injury(the second of his young career), and that alone will shake the confidence of even the best quarterbacks in the game.

Below is a comment from Dr. James Andrews on how athletes return from major knee reconstruction:

“They’re all different,” Andrews said. “There’s still a big spectrum in how they heal and how they come back . . . It’s hard to predict recovery from an ACL surgery, and to say that we’re getting them back quicker than we used to would be false information from my standpoint.”

Many don’t come back at all. A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that only 63 percent of NFL athletes who had an ACL reconstruction returned to play another game. Roughly two out of three. And two years after ACL surgery, Andrews said, about 55 percent of NFL players are no longer playing in the league. For the majority, an ACL still is pretty synonymous with the end of a career.

So as you can see from one of the most renown orthopedic surgeons in the country, it is a pretty life-altering surgery, especially for a professional athlete.

First, I want to compare two quarterbacks who suffered serious knee injuries, that were similar in skill set to RG3. Both Randall Cunningham and Daunte Culpepper has big arms, but could also make plays with their legs.

Cunningham suffered his first significant injury(ACL)in 1991. Culpepper suffered his knee injury 12 games into the 2001 season. Here is a look at the season before(in Culpeppers case, the season of)and the season after the injury.


1990: (10-6) 58.3% 3466yds 30td 13int

1992: (10-5) 60.7% 2775yds 19td 11int

*Cunninghan's mobility was greatly effected the season after knee surgery.


2001 - (4-7) 64.2% 2612yds 14tds 13int

2002 - (6-10) 60.7% 3853yds 18tds 23int

Now I will take a look at two more serious knee injuries suffered by quarterbacks who were considered more pocket passers. Both Tom Brady and Carson Palmer had serious knee injuries requiring surgery. Brady's happened at the beginning of the 2008 season, causing him to miss the remainder of the year. Palmers happened(much like RG3's) in a playoff game in 2005, and he was able to return the following season to play in all 16 games. The stats below will compare the season before, and the season in which they returned from injury.


2007 - (16-0) 68.9% 4806yds 50td 8int

2009 - (10-6) 65.7% 4398yds 28tds 13int


2005 - (11-5) 67.8% 3836yds 32tds 12int

2006 - (8-8) 62.3% 4035yds 28tds 13int

Of the four quarterbacks I compared, each had a worse touchdown-to-interception rate the year following knee surgery. All but Cunningham suffered a drop in completion percentage, and three of the four suffered worse records the following season. Two of the four had teams that missed the playoffs. Palmer saw a similar team to the one that made a playoff run in 2005, go to .500 the following season.

So why is this important when comparing these four signal callers to Robert Griffin III?

First, all of these quarterbacks had been in the league for a few years prior to their injury. None were injured significantly between their rookie and second year - the year all experts agree is the season where the most growth and maturation takes place. Second, each player was able to play in the preseason the year after their injury. Most significantly, Carson Palmer, who sustained his injury around the same time of the season that RG3 did, returned to play in the preseason that same year. Finally, the four quarterbacks mentioned were all on teams with significant talent around them.

To the contrary, Griffin had to endure his injury and rehab in the same calendar year as his return. He also didn't have the benefit of a strong supporting cast around him(especially offensive playmakers). Finally, and not to be overlooked, Griffin, in just his second season, missed all of the preseason - which for a young quarterback is extremely important.

This season alone, two younger quarterbacks, Sam Bradford and Brian Hoyer were lost for the season with knee injuries. It will be interesting to see how these players look upon their return next season.

Before we critized, chastise, and belittle our franchise signal caller, let's step back and take a look at the big picture. Maybe the painting will show you something you may have overlooked.