Take a moment, Redskins Nation. You’ve earned it. This Sunday, as you’re laid back with your feet up and television tuned to Redskins vs. Falcons, don’t just watch the game. Make sure to appreciate it, too, because one day you might be asked to recount how it all began.
You may be forgiven for taking in the first four weeks of this NFL season as if it were any other, but no more. A new era is upon us, and its already streaking by with alarming haste. Already at the quarter pole of Robert Griffin III’s historic rookie season, how many of us truly recognize what we’re watching transpire each week as the birth and evolution of football’s next shining star?
Perhaps it’s a bit early to close the debate on where Griffin’s career will ultimately place him among football’s pantheon of great players. But then again, it might not be. Barring injury, is it even possible at this point to realistically envision a scenario where Griffin does not go down in history as one of the best Redskins of all time and greatest quarterbacks of his generation?
I know what you’re thinking: Calm down, he’s only attempted 124 professional passes, let’s see how he develops. In return, I’ll ask: What more do you need to see? What questions at this point remain unresolved or lack an obvious answer?
We already know that there is nothing physically Griffin cannot do as a quarterback. He is a supremely accurate passer with an extremely strong arm who’s as dangerous on his feet as any to ever play the position. The main question surrounding Griffin’s game coming out of college was whether he could read pro defenses. Well, he’s completing nearly 70 percent of his passes and has thrown only one interception, so he certainly hasn’t been confused or overwhelmed by anything defensive coordinators have thrown his way.
After leading his first career game-winning drive last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while having to call his own plays thanks to a malfunctioning headset, we know Griffin has the football smarts to both absorb a complex NFL playbook and quickly direct his own offense on the road with the game on the line.
We also know from his background and everything he has said and done at Baylor and in Washington that Griffin is everything you could ever want in a franchise quarterback — a hard-working, well-spoken, charismatic leader who instills confidence in his teammates and raises their level of play. He’s more than a franchise player. He’s fast becoming the face of the NFL.
So again, what more do you need to know? If he’ll continue to get better? Four weeks into the season, Griffin is already playing like one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. One has to assume he’ll eventually have some rookie struggles, but in what reality would anyone believe that we’ve already seen Griffin’s best? Even if he never gets any better and simply sustains his current level of performance, he’s still one of the best players the franchise has ever seen.
Maybe you want to see him flourish in games that actually matter. Fair enough, but what in Griffin’s history would suggest he does anything but rise to the occasion? Sure, there’s a limited sample size, but the early returns indicate Griffin is at his best when the lights are brightest. There’s no reason to think this won’t be a continuing trend throughout his career.
Perhaps you’re just scared of having your heart broken again, which as a Redskins fan is understandable. We’ve all fallen for players in the past that for one reason or another failed to meet expectations. But in the past the flaws have always been apparent and we, desperate for some future promise to cling to, have chosen to ignore them. Tell me, what signs are there that Griffin might not be everything we’re hoping for and more? Some players are just special. They exude excellence from the outset and announce their standing among the all-time greats almost immediately. If forced to decide now, who in their right mind wouldn’t include Griffin in that classification?
So please, for your own sake, don’t just watch the game Sunday. Take the time to realize what’s happening with the Redskins. Regardless of whether they emerge victorious against a vastly-superior Falcons squad, know that the future has never been brighter with this team. Etch how it feels in your memory so that 10 years from now, when the Redskins are perennial contenders and a veteran Griffin is lighting his league afire in the midst of a Hall of Fame career, you’ll be able to say, “I remember when it all started.”
Disclaimer: I have been and remain in the tank for Griffin, to whom I’ve penned a previous love letter.