Skip to content

No need to rush to judgment on Redskins’ RG3

Jul 1, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT


A year ago, former Redskins quarterback and current ESPN analyst Mark Brunell believed that current Redskins QB Robert Griffin III would successfully complete the transition from being a scrambling quarterback to being more of a pocket passer.

“He can get there. He’s one of the best young quarterbacks in the league and he got there because he’s a great athlete and he’ll be coached well,” Brunell said in May of 2014. “He’ll be fine. Other young quarterbacks couldn’t get to that point. He won’t be one of those guys. He’s smart.”

Griffin struggled in his first season in new coach Jay Gruden’s system. He hesitated when the should have pulled the trigger, looked to scramble when he should have hung in the pocket, and generally looked like a fish out of water.

Fast forward to this week and we find that Brunell has changed his tune on Griffin’s future.

“There were a series of things that were wrong with RGIII, and it really starts with his fundamentals,” Brunell said on “NFL Live” via the Washington Post. “Unfortunately for the young quarterback, he has gone backwards.”

Host Stephen A. Smith asked him if he thought that Griffin could overcome his issues and become a successful NFL quarterback.

“I do not,” Brunell replied.

So nine games and 214 pass attempts were enough to prompt Brunell to change his opinion on Griffin’s future a full 180 degrees. Yes, Griffin did look bad at times (a lot of the time, in fact) but let’s consider sample size here. He threw about a third the number of passes that league leaders Drew Brees and Matt Ryan did and less than half of what Blake Bortles and Alex Smith threw.

It appears that Brunell overrated Griffin’s chances for success a year ago and now he is underrating his chances. After all, this is sports talk where the “hot take” rules. “He’ll make the Pro Bowl” is a hot take. So is “he’ll fall flat on his face.”

But “let’s wait and see how this plays out” doesn’t cut it even though it’s usually the right stance to take. Such statements will have ESPN or whoever is employing the analyst looking through resumes and audition tapes for a replacement who will deliver the hot takes.

The truth is that a year ago there was no certainty that Griffin would eventually succeed. Today there is no certainty that he will not.

  1. Skulb - Jul 1, 2015 at 1:18 PM

    Logically you can not prove a negative. There might be an unknown moon circling Neptune made entirely of raspberry jelly. It isn`t likely but it is logically impossible to prove otherwise. What I think we can logically prove when it comes to Griffin right now is that if he doesn`t at the same time improve AND stay healthy in 2015, for a more or less full season, he will struggle to establish himself in the NFL; at least as a starter. His reputation right now is probably not “one of the best young QBs in the league” but “injury prone and unable to run a pro offense”. It might be unfair but that`s what I imagine the other teams are thinking.
    Worst case he stays unimpressive and/or gets another long term injury. I really think he`s done if that happens. Then again I might be wrong. It`s a tough position to play in football and hard to recruit good ones.

    • Anthony - Jul 1, 2015 at 1:58 PM

      I totally agree with you the major problem RG3 will have can he adapt week to week on what defenses are trying to do. As a NFL QB you have to be prepared on what they throw at you and how he can handle it.

  2. baugh33 - Jul 1, 2015 at 1:27 PM

    I think it is interesting that Drew Brees and Alex Smith are mentioned in this article because, as so few “experts” remember, they were given up on too.

    • jonevans511 - Jul 1, 2015 at 2:34 PM

      Very good point Sammy B! The problem is the sports media would prefer 10 times out of 10 to go with the negative angle because controversy (or “hot takes” as Rich mentioned) sells over the alternative. Sure, most fans prefer to read about guys like Brees, who were written off for being too small or too fragile or too this or too that but who ended up becoming top-level players, but the media would rather force their own narratives down our throats and tell us what we should care about. Which is why they’d much rather prefer going the route of “RGIII saga shows the dangers of trading your future away for an unproven commodity” type narratives as opposed to “Can RGIII have a Brees-like turnaround over the next couple seasons?”. It’s crazy how easy it is to shift the mass’ thinking just by spinning articles the way they do. Fortunately, most of the people on this website are level-headed and know the difference between a hot take and valuable insight.

      • Trey Gregory - Jul 1, 2015 at 4:58 PM

        You know, I love RG3. I really do. I’m a huge fan. But I would completely agree that it’s never wise to mortgage the franchise for one player. The trade to get him was just nutty on Washingtons part. It worked out ok for me. By total coincidence I’m a Baylor and Redskins fan (went to Baylor, fell in love with the Refskins when I was stationed in the area). But I just don’t think it’s a smart way to build a franchise for the future.

        I also have a hard time with the Drew Brees and Alex Smith comparison. Brees always had flashes of potential to be a monster in the passing game, I think his shoulder injury is what really tilted the scales toward Rivers. Then Smith was undefeated when he was benched for Kap. He was playing pretty good football, the 9ers just thought they had a better guy. I hope everything works out for RG3, I just don’t see those situations the same as his.

    • skinsgame - Jul 1, 2015 at 2:53 PM

      Nobody “gave up” on Drew Brees or Alex Smith. The 49ers made a decision that Kaeprenerderesik was the better QB and should be the starter instead of paying huge dollars to a back up. Alex Smith has hardly proven them wrong. Drew Brees had an outstanding season in his last year in San Diego butt had previously been lackluster. They had Rivers laying in wait for a couple seasons making huge 1st round pay. Rivers has also been a top flight QB. Griffin started good and has been poor ever since. If they let him go and he takes off elsewhere, it would be more along the lines of Rich Gannon or Kurt Warner.

      • skinsgame - Jul 1, 2015 at 2:54 PM

        *butt lol

      • baugh33 - Jul 2, 2015 at 9:43 AM

        First off, not saying their teams gave up on them, I’m saying the experts did. You don’t remember the Mike Singletary-Alex Smith 49ers? You don’t remember the Chargers trading for Phillip Rivers because Brees was often-injured and not a “great quarterback?”

        • berniebernard666 - Jul 2, 2015 at 10:20 AM

          You kids are arguing over semantics. “GAVE UP ON”….”LET GO”…..”:TRADED”…”EXPERTS DID”…etc .. .etc.

          Hey look you can play with words all you want but if a team doesn’t want a player and finds no value in that player and if that player cannot help the team win, then he is gone. Girffin is dangling on that ledge right now.

        • skinsgame - Jul 3, 2015 at 12:04 AM

          No, we’re pointing out inequitable comparisons.

    • ET - Jul 1, 2015 at 3:05 PM

      Brunnell, Theismann, and even good ol’ Heath Schuler are entitled to voice their opinions about the QB situation. Ultimately, however, Robert needs more reps and more on-field time v. real opponents. Robert isn’t stupid; he knows what he needs to accomplish before and during the upcoming season. He deserves a shot at it.

  3. Henry Williams - Jul 1, 2015 at 2:37 PM

    In Griffins’ first season, the defense kept the redskins in a lot of games. They were able to run the ball with Griffin and Alfred Morris, and they were able to get big plays from play action. The defense has sucked for the past 2 seasons. Teams would get leads on the redskins early, and it made the offense one dimensional. The running game is taken away when you’re down by 10 or more points. Take a page from the Dallas Cowboys. Build a strong physical o-line and shore up the defense, Griffin will rise to the occasion and the team will be successful in 2015.

    • Ant - Jul 2, 2015 at 11:47 AM

      Yeah but that offense went down the field and scored a lot of points also and they hardly turned the ball over. Let us all not forget that Eli and Peyton manning took more than three years to be better but the Giant’s D kept them in a lot of games too. Mark Rypein wasn’t even that good but he had superb receivers, a great O-line, and a great D. It took Drew Bree’s a few years to get where he is. Russel Wilson is actually not that good. Smart but without that offense tailored to his strengths he will struggle too. Griffin wasn’t really developed when he first came in but the offense was tailored to his strengths and he only had to concentrate on half the field. I will still take a wait and see on him because in 2012 he still made plays, performed well under pressure, and was extremely accurate with his throws. Also during that year he made a lot of plays and that offense still wasn’t protecting him ( bengals game to be one) they were killing him and still he hung in there. So like I said I’m gonna take a wait and see on this year.

  4. skinsgame - Jul 1, 2015 at 2:43 PM

    What worries me most and why I tend to agree with Brunell is how slow the decisions are made by Griffin. It’s very possible he’s an intelligent person but have an analytical approach to things and, so, slower to make decisions. It’s an attribute in many jobs, QB in the NFL is not one of them though. And while I hope he proves me and every other doubter wrong, I’d bet 98 of Rich’s 100 chips that he will come out and be exactly what he was last year: athletic but indecisive and prone to repeating errors. Even so, 11-5 is the worst case scenario.

    • Skulb - Jul 1, 2015 at 3:08 PM

      I agree with everything except the last sentence. How Griffin playing like he did last year translates into an 11-5 season I have no idea. 6-10 is what I expect. I think you`re being delusionally optimistic with 11-5. That should be what we all hope for and certainly not “worst case scenario”, which would be 4-12 or worse and no improvement.

      • skinsgame - Jul 1, 2015 at 3:14 PM

        I fail to see how QB play can stop this dynamite team. They’re so good and with so much depth at every position, they are nearly unstoppable. How you don’t see that is beyond me. I’m just kidding.

        • Skulb - Jul 1, 2015 at 7:26 PM

          On paper probably. But they do actually need to gel as a team. Another collapse in the secondary could negate any improvements on the defensive line. And the secondary seems shaky to me; full of ifs and maybes. And if it doesn`t improve drastically from last season they`ll still be burned on long plays. Same on offense. The ifs and maybes there are Scherff being able to play well in his first season, RGIII improving to at least average and the blocking improving about as much as the secondary needs to improve, to stop the rampant sacks and TOs from last year.
          I just can not understand how someone with a straight face can say that 11-5 is WORST CASE SCENARIO (Your words) from a team that`s won 7 games in the last two years. If anything 11-5 is close to best case scenario. At 6-10, which is my prediction, I still have them winning almost as many games in 2015 as they managed in 2013 and 2014 combined. Statistically I`m even being generous with this.
          The Redskins had -22 sacks last year and a -12 TO ratio. I don`t think they`ll do as badly in 2015, which would almost be hard to do. But it`s a stretch to call a winning season worst case with this team. A winning season is best case.

        • skinsgame - Jul 2, 2015 at 12:53 AM

          I didn’t say it with a straight face. I often predict 14-2, 13-3, etc… It’s the offseason. I’m just making a joke.

        • bangkokben - Jul 2, 2015 at 1:00 PM

          The first response to this 3:14P comment is a classic case of not reading the entire comment. Hysterical. Caught in the cookie jar. Certainly not the only example – nor the last – but perhaps the most obvious.

  5. wvredskins - Jul 1, 2015 at 3:30 PM

    You know Brunnel does have a point if you base his game off of last year. The bad this is which really hurt RG last year was the fact that he got injured and lost 6 weeks of playing time. He had no confidence last year and you have to have confidence in this league as a QB. Look at the brady’s and manning’s and brees of the league and you see them playing with such confidence. RG has to get his swag back and has to believe in each throw he is throwin and I think if he can get that back we will see a much better RG this year. He can only do better than last year but is it gonna be enough to prove that he is worth being our franchise QB.

    • renhoekk2 - Jul 1, 2015 at 4:51 PM

      A lot will depend on well he plays and how things line up in the draft. If there is a QB on the board they feel has a better chance of developing than Griffin then he will not be back. If it’s close between him and the draft pick then he will be back. He would have to not improve much or they would have to be blown away by the prospect for him to be finished here.

  6. kenlinkins - Jul 1, 2015 at 4:37 PM

    Logic would say that Brunnel is correct unless you believe that the team of “Gruden / Allen” had what I call a false start in 2014 (and I do). Brunnel took 2 years of playing, added a major injury that stopped a ROY QB who had to play for a head coach who was headed for the door, added a new head coach who was a QB who was hand picked to rebuild RG3 and came up with 2014 would be a rebound year. Now with 2 out of 3 years not looking so hot for RG3 he has turned around on the subject (playing the odds again?). IMO the Redskins had a major false start in 2014 and I think that most of that has been corrected with a new GM who has reset the position coaching staff and the type of players added to the roster. While the head coach still has a lot to prove and the jury is still out on RG3 (and Cousin for that matter) I think Brunnel has missed the mark by not digging into just how bad the Redskins were in 2013 / 2014. He is IMO just playing the odds (i.e. 2 of 3 years where bad, no improvement in 2014 = failure). The good news that Brunnel has placed his chips and seeing how he was so wrong last time, I am not sure I want to follow his lead. Again, I say wait until we see him in the preseason before placing any bets and as Rich said, there is no reason to rush it! (as it will be a while before the little ball lands on a number).

  7. charge1 - Jul 1, 2015 at 9:52 PM

    Bree’s wasn’t given up on because of talent. He had a shoulder injury that at the time the docs gave him a low probability he would be able to be a qb again. New Orleans got him for a fourth round pic. Why with all of the draft pics we use to waste didn’t we do it.

    • Rich Tandler - Jul 2, 2015 at 8:56 AM

      Well, the Chargers had given up on Brees prior to that when they did the deal to get Rivers. At that point there was zero chance that Brees would re-sign with the Chargers and he still had two years left on his rookie deal at the time.

      And there was no compensation for Brees; he was a UFA.

      • Kevin - Jul 3, 2015 at 1:28 AM

        And wasn’t the the Rivers deal made because Eli refused to play for the Chargers after being drafted 2nd or 3rd overall?

  8. troylok - Jul 1, 2015 at 11:22 PM

    Do you try to make a scrambling QB into a pocket QB or do you try to adapt your offense? I think Gruden is very inflexible. Instead of making his offense work with the pieces he has, he tries to make the pieces he has work in the offense he is too stubborn to modify. I think RG3 could have success in this league but Gruden is too rigid to adapt to RG3’s strengths.

    • skinsgame - Jul 2, 2015 at 1:10 AM

      Name a consistent winning head coach who has proven that teams can win based in talent and not scheme and identity. The teams that win with consistency have approaches to win football games typically rooted in a solid run game and defense. I’m not trying to qualify Gruden as a defensive specialist or an offensive genius but, the Steelers, Ravens, Giants, Patriots, Packers, and recently, Seahawks are not designed with schemes around athletic, inaccurate QB’s. Drawing up a couple plays to exploit his speed is one thing. Trying to design an offense around a QB who has no feel for the pocket is quite another and there’s no proof it works while there’s plenty of proof the opposite works nearly all of the time. Griffin has to adapt.

      • berniebernard666 - Jul 2, 2015 at 11:16 AM

        there isn’t a set way for a QB to be efficient or win. Schemes, identity, etc. are fancy terms. Don’t mean much. The good ones just get the job done. It’s called Ability……and then there is that other thing: AVAILABILITY.

  9. berniebernard666 - Jul 2, 2015 at 10:11 AM

    The Redskins are Riverboat Gamblers at this point and the Drama that is going on won’t go away anytime soon.
    This team has set up the potential for this drama going on for the next 2 or 3 years because of INJURY.

    Regardless if Griffin plays 16 games and throws for 4000 yards, the drama is not over because Redskins fans will be walking on eggshells for the next couple of years until RG3 can go 2 straight years without getting injured, something he has NEVER done even in college and then transitioning to the pros. So regardless if RG3 returns to the land of glory, I hope the Skins draft a QB next season because we are one injury away from the drama beginning all over again.

  10. bangkokben - Jul 2, 2015 at 1:16 PM

    “No need to rush to Judgement on RG3”

    Multiple responses that basically say: “Yes there are.”

    Damn. When did Americans get so fatalistic. There’s no rationale for that. Basically, the people are saying: “I haven’t seen change yet, so it’s not coming.” Even though the organization is in a wait an see mode. Change for the most part is imperceptible until it’s obvious. Otto Porter, anyone?

    Not that the folks here haven’t come to their conclusions on their own, but I doubt I’d agree with anything Mark Brunnell has to say. When a veteran quarterback takes a sack repeated by stepping out of bounds on the sideline instead of throwing it in the dirt – he loses all credibility with me about talking about the position. I’m sure he’s right up there with Jim Zorn – super nice guy that Redskin fans would rather forget were part of the organizatiion.

  11. timwillhidetimwillhide - Jul 3, 2015 at 10:31 AM

    When the Pass Blocking gets better (Ranked 31st last year) the QBs will be better Period. Archives

Follow Us On Twitter