Robert Griffin III faces career-defining comeback season

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By KEVIN CASE
College Contributor Network

In the fall of 2012, Robert Griffin III created a monster. He brought success and realistic dreams of a Super Bowl to the deprived football fans of Washington D.C. Redskin fans remember that incredible autumn, but maybe it'd be best if they just forgot it ever happened.

Griffin's rookie year was nothing short of sensational. The Heisman winner threw for 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns, while only leaking just five interceptions. He broke NFL rookie records for passer rating (102.4) and percentage of passes intercepted (1.3 percent) – and that's just on paper.

On the field, Griffin looked like one of the most dynamic players in the NFL during his first season. He was able to utilize his Olympic-quality speed outside the pocket, while making smart decisions on where to go with the football. He eluded pass rushers like on-coming parking cones, sprinted past safeties, and even did this.

But now all those things – the inflated passing efficiency, rookie passing records, and hurdler-style sprints up the sideline – are gone. Over. Finished. Done. In that fateful rookie season Griffin also suffered a career-altering knee injury that made coaches, analysts, and all who watch the NFL realize that the read-option style the Redskins' offense used in the fall of 2012 could never be replicated or used again.

After taking the league by storm in 2012, RGIII needed to become at least a part-time pocket passer. The transformation was supposed to begin last season under former-coach Mike Shanahan and it didn't go too well. Griffin appeared unprepared in his return from reconstructive knee surgery and struggled with a bulky knee brace before being unceremoniously benched for the final three games of a 3-13 campaign.

Fast-forward to the here and now – Griffin's knee is finally healed and Shanahan has packed up and left town. Jay Gruden is the 'Skins' new head honcho and the top task on his list is to mold RGIII into a more polished pocket passer. That task could take some time, as Griffin has yet to complete an NFL season in a traditional offense.

Here's hoping that the Redskins' organization gives Griffin and Gruden enough time to try and make this thing work.

Odds are it won't.

Mostly thanks to volatile owner Daniel Snyder, the Redskins seem to operate with a constant "win now" mentality. That mentality has spelled doom for continuity within the organization; Jay Gruden became the eighth head coach to work under Snyder since he bought the franchise in 1999.

The revolving door has seen even more action at the quarterback position, as 15 different players have started under center in that same time period. That list includes draft day busts like Patrick Ramsey and Jason Campbell, journeymen signal-callers like Rex Grossman and Tony Banks, and even past-their-prime veterans Donovan McNabb and Mark Brunell.

There is one big reason to think RGIII could be an exception to this Redskin rule of constant reshuffling: Washington essentially sold its soul to draft the Baylor standout with the 2nd overall pick in the 2012 draft.

In the pre-draft deal that brought Griffin to Washington, the Redskins sent the Rams their first-round picks in the 2012, 2013, and 2014 drafts (as well as their second-round pick in the 2012 draft). In the coming years, Washington might recognize it has mortgaged its future with Griffin and give him every chance to develop as a true franchise quarterback. Or it might not.

In two years time, RGIII may have developed in to a top-10 NFL quarterback - or he may have become just another name on a long list of reject Redskin signal-callers.

Either way, those Washington fans will always have the fall of 2012, right?


Kevin Case is a junior at Syracuse University. He is a loyal D.C. Sports fan, has a growing love for American soccer, and would love to beat you in FIFA. Follow him on Twitter: @KCase_Closed
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