Starting rookie quarterbacks in the NFL are rarely good, and neither are Washington Redskins quarterbacks — usually. It’s even more unusual to rack playoff-worthy numbers in debut games, but that’s exactly what Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III did in his first game Sept. 9.
After the Redskins failed to break even in their record for the past three years, it’s no wonder Redskins fans were starved for excitement. Many worried, though, that the twenty-two-year-old Heisman winner wouldn’t be able to live up to Washington’s (perhaps unreasonable) expectations. So, it was a relief to all this past Sunday when Griffin did just that, and kicked off his professional career with a 40-32 victory on the road against the New Orleans Saints (who hadn’t lost a home game during last year’s entire regular season).
The Saints seemed to pose a strong challenge to the constantly struggling Skins and were favored to beat Washington. The New Orleans franchise had the home advantage, as well as time-tested QB Drew Brees, who set the league’s single-season passing record last year.
However, Griffin beat the odds and boasted 362 all-purpose yards in addition to throwing two touchdown passes, and was the first rookie QB in NFL history to attain a flawless 158.3 passer rating in the first half and to throw 300 yards in his first game. Griffin completed his first eight passes, one of which included an 88-yard touchdown pass.
The Indianapolis Colts selected quarterback Andrew Luck before Griffin in last year’s draft, hoping for the next Peyton Manning. But the Colts were demolished by the Bears in their first game, in which Luck threw three interceptions.
Skins fans are understandably ecstatic that RGIII has lived up to all the hype. Griffin has one of the top selling jerseys in the league this year, which is nothing new to Washington fans; there was a similar craze when Donovan McNabb was traded to the Skins.
Over 72,000 fans were in attendance Sunday, but that didn’t faze Griffin, who’s used to playing in big games — he’s won a high school championship, a bowl game in college and the Heisman trophy. Adding a debut win over a powerhouse team was just a nice addition to his already spectacular resume.
Even as Griffin’s hype rises to a fever pitch after his stellar debut, it’s important to remember that one good game doesn’t guarantee a winning record for the Redskins. Griffin could easily falter in matches later in the season, and only hard work and consistency from both players and management can truly turn the franchise around. Only time will tell whether Washington will ride the RGIII train to victory or disappointment.