This is a guest post by Thomas Sullivan, a Washington DC resident and avid football fan. He has previously written for his school newspaper, and brings a youthful insight to the world of sports.
Robert Griffin III’s play in his youthful career has not just changed the recent ill-fate of a franchise in need, but also shaped an NFL season, its future seasons to follow, and left a mark on an evolving position. Robert Griffin III’s rookie campaign, which included 4,015 total yards, 27 total TD’s and 5 INT’s can be examined by the Washington Redskins winning their first NFC East title since 1999 and RG3 capturing the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, but, it can also but examined on a much broader spectrum. Robert Griffin III’s performance and the formations he was used in, changed the future of the quarterback position and the outcome of the NFL season, which can directly be supported by the insertion of Russell Wilson as the Seattle Seahawks starter, Jim Harbaugh’s decision to stay with the 2nd year man Colin Kaepernick even though the formerly concussed and playoff-game-winning Alex Smith had already been cleared, and the Buffalo Bills drafting EJ Manuel out of Florida State in the First Round of the draft as the first quarterback off the board.
The Seattle Seahawks Summer of 2012 was highlighted by making former Green Bay Packers backup Matt Flynn the highest paid player on their roster. Flynn was a pocket passing, West Coast style quarterback who was picked to anchor an offense on a team which was anchored by its defense. However, in a quick twist of fortune, Matt Flynn’s job was overtaken by the 3rd rounder Wilson, and he was demoted to second string. However, without taking away credit from the emergence of the electrifying Russell Wilson, his promotion was a mixture of his great showing in preseason and the read option phenomenon that was brought about by RG3’s Heisman campaign. Although Russell Wilson has already proven to be one of the best 3rd round picks in recent memory, it’s hard to not acknowledge RG3 and the Redskins for Wilson’s sudden rise. The same combination of arm strength and mobility that carried RG3 to great heights was spotted by Pete Carroll when he named Wilson the starter, and sought to replicate Griffin’s success. Although Wilson has made a name for himself, and actually beat Robert Griffin III and his Redskins in the playoffs, Wilson presumably would not have started without RG3’s read option lighting the world—and Pete Carroll’s imagination—on fire.
Similarly, the naming of Colin Kaepernick as a starter came as a direct result of Robert Griffin III and the Redskins’ offensive production via the read option. Colin Kaepernick was not named the starter due to a lack of production from Alex Smith, who was a Kyle Williams fumble away from the Super Bowl the previous year, and he did not replace Alex Smith because of his performance while Smith was sitting– in his first two games replacing Smith he accounted for only 183 and 253 yards. Colin Kaepernick became the San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback and ultimately lead them to the Super Bowl because their offensive philosophy changed— to model the dual threat read option offense Robert Griffin III and the Shannahans were running in Washington.
The selection of EJ Manuel by the Buffalo Bills in the First Round of the 2013 NFL Draft was the ultimate sign that Robert Griffin III had left his mark on football, because it signaled a change in the evaluation of the quarterback position. If RG3 had not played in 2013, EJ Manuel would not be looking for real estate in Buffalo right now simply because before RG3 played, teams addressed the quarterback position differently. Now that Robert Griffin, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick have all ascended to great heights in the football world, teams have opened their eyes to the effectiveness and the efficiency of the dual-threat quarterback, and players with rushing and passing ability, such as Manuel, are now seeing their draft stocks rise to heights that would seem unimaginable before Robert Griffin III stepped into a league he would soon change.
Robert Griffin III was not the best player on a football field in the NFL’s 2012-2013 season. However, Robert Griffin III and the Shannahan’s have captured everyone’s attention with the Redskins’ trailblazing offensive season, and the impact of that on other teams’ offensive game-plans is simply undeniable.