Why is everybody dumping on Robert Griffin III?

rg3Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is this generation’s Ryan Leaf, the second pick behind a once-in-a-generation QB going bust.

Except that he’s not Ryan Leaf, or anything close to it.

Leaf, the #2 pick behind peyton manning in 1998, had a 50.0 quarterback rating in 25 games in parts of three seasons with San Diego and Dallas, completing 48.4 percent of his passes for 3,666 yards, 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.

Yikes, indeed.

Griffin just wrapped his third season as a former #2 pick to Andrew Luck in 2012. In 37 games, RG3 has a 90.6 rating, completing 63.9 percent of his passes for 8,097 yards, 40 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.

It is true that Griffin has regressed from his solid rookie year in 2012, when he completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 3,200 yards, ran for another 815 yards, with 20 TDs passing, eight more rushing, and just five INTs with a 102.4 QB rating.

In 2014, in nine games, including seven starts, the QB rating was down to 86.9, with a 68.7 percent completion rate, but just four touchdowns and six interceptions, and just 176 yards on the ground as he struggled to fit into first-year coach Jay Gruden’s version of the West Coast offense.

Colt McCoy had the best numbers of the three who started at quarterback for Washington in 2014 (96.4 rating, 71.7 completion rate in five games, four of them starts).

And with McCoy and kirk cousins (86.4 rating, 61.8 completion rate, 10TDs/9INTs in six games, five of them starts) still on the roster, that’s a lot of guys with similar numbers with only one ball to spread out among them at QB.

The numbers suggest that Griffin isn’t as far off from playing to the level of play as his backups as the conventional wisdom has suggested. And his ceiling is still a lot higher than either McCoy or Cousins, if only taking into account his 2012 rookie season, and throwing out the fact that the Redskins traded away almost an entire draft in 2012 to get him with the #2 pick.

And then, of course, you can’t entirely discount what the Redskins did in 2012 to get Griffin. He gets one more year to play up to that #2 pick, and to try to reclaim the magic that was his 2012 season, which it may be hard to remember now, but did end with Washington as the NFC East champs.

Griffin has some growing to do to fit into Gruden’s system, and honestly Gruden has some growing to do as well, to fit Griffin’s talent into what he wants to do to get the Redskins to move the ball and score.

Give them 2015 to figure it out, and if it doesn’t work out, they’re both gone, and the Redskins will yet again start over.

But RG3 at least deserves that one last chance to play up to his potential.

– Column by Chris Graham

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