Robert Griffin III Benefits from Changing NFL Offenses While on Pace for Best Rookie Season Ever


Robert Griffin III Benefits from Changing NFL Offenses While on Pace for Best Rookie Season EverThe NFL saw two tremendous rookies enter the league in 2011, but no one was prepared for Robert Griffin III's debut season.

Griffin is completing his passes at a league-best 70.2-percent clip and he's on pace for 3,581 passing yards, 13 touchdowns through the air and just five interceptions. He is also set to rush for 1,011 yards and 16 touchdowns. He very well may not maintain that pace, but if he does, not only would it mark the best season ever for an NFL rookie, but also the best season for a "running" quarterback since Steve Young was in his prime.

These astronomical stats are of course, not coming out of nowhere. Griffin was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft after throwing for 4,293 yards, 37 touchdowns, six interceptions and a 72.4-percent completion percentage as a senior at Baylor. But everyone expected some sort of learning curve.

Griffin is the sort of player that you would create in Madden. The Redskins' rookie quarterback was designed with a 99 in speed, 99 in accuracy and maybe a 94 in throwing power just to make things fair.

RGIII broke state records in the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles as a high schooler and would have likely been on pace for the 2012 Olympics if not for that pesky football career. So all of those Vikings players that couldn't catch up to Griffin on his 76-yard run can't be ashamed, they were chasing a world-class sprinter.

Of course, some other great rookies have come through the league. Ben Roethlisberger led his team to a 13-0 record as a starter while completing 66.4-percent of his passes. Last year Cam Newton completed 60.0-percent of his passes for 4,051 yards and 21 touchdowns while also running for 706 yards and 14 touchdowns. Dick Lane intercepted 14 passes way back in 1952, Edgerrin James totaled 2,139 yards from scrimmage with 17 touchdowns, Lawrence Taylor was named AP Defensive Player of the Year with 9 1/2 sacks and Peyton Manning threw for 26 touchdowns.

But would any of those compare to a 70.2-percent completion percentage and 1,000 yards on the ground?

There have been plenty of rookie running backs that have taken the league by storm and a handful of defensive players, but exceptional rookie quarterbacks are hard to come by. NFL offenses are changing though and Griffin came into the league at the perfect time. Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan saw what worked with Newton and to some degree, Tim Tebow, and developed his own system that would help ease the rookie quarterback into the NFL.

Washington still has some elements of the old Shanahan offense, but they're also employing spread and option attacks that Griffin was running at Baylor. Years ago, it would have been tremendously difficult for Griffin to come into the NFL and survive, much less succeed. But Shanahan is proving that sometimes old dogs do learn new tricks, as long as they have the right pieces in place.

Typically, running a version of the option wouldn't work in the NFL, but when there's a deadly accurate signal caller under center, you have to constantly respect the pass, as well as the run.

The key to the Heisman winner's success will be to keep picking up new pieces and more importantly, to stay healthy. RGIII already suffered a mild-concussion that luckily only kept him out for a little over a quarter in Week 5, but if he can't learn to protect himself against the big-hitters of the NFL, he could be in for a long and dangerous career.

For now though, we can all bask in the awesomeness that is RGIII's rookie campaign.

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