Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III running against the Minnesota Vikings. (AP Photo)
For the record, I’m still a Robert Griffin III fan. I still like the guy and hope that he can pull his young football career back together sometime in the near future. I just don’t think it’ll be in Washington, unless he’s ready to accept a back-up quarterback salary while still trying to reclaim his lost skills.
Or did Robert ever have authentic NFL skills to begin with? After listening to weeks of professional football talk about RG3 learning how to become a so-called “pocket passer” with less running and more throwing, I keep wondering if the awesomeness of his rookie season two years ago was only a mirage. Did he really win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, while taking his team on a 7-0 winning streak and sweeping his hometown Dallas Cowboys in the regular season before jumping out to a 14-0 lead in a home playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks?
I don’t remember there being an issue with Robert throwing the ball from the pocket as a rookie. With a 65 percent completion rate, the guy was one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league that year. He also had 20 touchdowns with only five interceptions, while throwing for 3,200 yards. Was all of that success only because of his threat to run the ball every play? I beg to differ.
Whether a guy can run effectively or not has nothing to do with his ability to throw a football on a straight line to his open receivers. If running and throwing were connected at the hip as many apologetic analysts seem to be suggesting, then a bunch a track stars would be deadly at the quarterback position. However, that is not the case. So I hate to be overly harsh here, but I’m a little tired of hearing the “athletic quarterback” excuse for black men who continue to have problems with delivering the football.
I don’t care if a guy runs around in circles, picks up first downs with his legs, slides to the turf, runs out of bounds, or uses the bootleg, the read option, the pistol formation, or whatever. When it’s time to throw the football to the open man, I expect for a guy who gets paid millions of dollars to be able to put the ball on the money, on time. And we have not witnessed Robert Griffin III be able to do so on a consistent basis since his ruthless rookie leg injury.
Are you now telling me that his two-year old healing process has been that Kryptonotic—to create a word here—to his ability to throw a football? If that’s the case, then I guess he has a legitimate excuse. Or, maybe he simply hasn’t dedicated himself enough to re-learn the basic footwork and execution of the position.
One, two, three, plant, step up, find the open man and throw. Now repeat. And repeat it again. But from what Washington’s Head Coach Jay Gruden said after his team’s ugly 27-7 loss to Tampa Bay in week 11, Robert is no longer able to execute the basics. And I’m sorry, folks, but if you watched that game like I did, on the very first play from scrimmage a wide open tight end cut across the middle of the field, right in Robert’s eyesight, only for the celebrated, Heisman Trophy winning quarterback from the academic institution of Baylor to refuse to throw the easy pass, while sprinting to his left and tossing a much harder pass to a second tight-end’s knees, who tried in earnest to bend low enough to catch the poorly thrown ball, only to pop it up in the air for an interception.
And I asked myself, “Are you kidding me?” on the first play of the game. I knew from that moment on that the magic of RG3 was not coming back to Washington.
So excuse me for sounding like a man who has given up hope on the kid, but I remember like yesterday when the long-time Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, Donovan McNabb, made a very public offering to advise the young man on how to conduct himself and prepare for a long and stable career in the NFL; particularly as an African-American quarterback with a world of hype and expectations on his shoulders, and Robert flat-out turned him down.
Maybe now he can humble himself to find enough time to spend a whole week with Donovan and find out how he transitioned from running for his life in Philadelphia, to becoming the Eagles all-time passing leader in attempts, yards, completions and touchdowns, while leading his teams to five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl. And may Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, E.J. Manuel and even Jameis Winston at Florida State be next in line for his tutoring.
But it looks like Russell Wilson and Teddy Bridgewater already have the point. It doesn’t matter how “athletic” you are if you can’t pass the football effectively to your receivers. And us true fans of the game can’t stress that point enough.
Omar Tyree is a New York Times bestselling author, an NAACP Image Award winner for Outstanding Fiction and a professional journalist @ www.OmarTyree.com