Welcome back bitches! While we were out gallivanting, saving the word from destruction, causing an overall raucous, and completely neglecting our dear readers, a lot has happened to our cherished Robert Griffin DA Third. He was named offensive captain of the Washington Redskins, led the team to 7 straight wins, won a divisional title, and brought hope to all football fans in America. Notice I didn’t say “hope for all football fans in Washington, DC.” RGIII is so great he literally gives all football fans hope of a better NFL.
He also tore his ACL and MCL, was involved in one of the biggest on-field controversies in recent sport, lost his first NFL playoff game, and underwent a complete knee reconstruction. Today, however, I do not want to talk about that time when even Stevie Wonder was screaming at Mike Shannahan to take Griff out of the game. That argument has been done to death. Today, I am going to give you the indisputable case for RGIII as Rookie of the Year.
With the NFL Award Season rapidly approaching, I thought today would be a perfect time to reflect on the season that RGIII had and why he deserved Rookie of the Year. A couple things before I start. We must first remember that ROY is an award for the entirety of the regular season. All 16 games count, from Week 1 to Week 17. The playoffs do not have anything to do with the award. Secondly, I realize that I am the most biased person in the world, excluding Robert Griffin Sr., to write this article. This is no exaggeration; after just one season, RGIII has vaulted Juan Dixon, Gilbert Arenas, and Sean Taylor as my favorite athlete of all time. That is no small feat in just 17 weeks. But I will do my best to ensure that my bias doesn’t play into the argument. Finally, I will try focus on why RGIII deserves the award; not as much why Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck do not deserve this award. They are both great players and would probably have won the award in any other year. But this year they have Black Gesus to compete with. Without further ado:
There are really only two ways to evaluate a player: by his stats and by watching him play. In order to make a full evaluation of a player, you really need to evaluate both. Allow me to use basketball as an example. A player might put up gaudy stats (a la Carmelo Anthony), but if you watch him play, you really aren’t THAT overly impressed with him. Yes he is good, but watching him play doesn’t enhance your evaluation of the player; his stats tell most of the story. It works the other way too. Tim Duncan isn’t going to pop off the stat sheet and make you say WOW. But if you watch him play, he works his butt off, gobbles up rebounds, makes all the little plays, and kills on defense. He makes such an enormous impact on the game that is not represented in his statistical presence. This is how all sports need to be evaluated. That is how I will evaluate the Rookie of the Year.
Robert Griffin III led all rookies (and was third in the league behind Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers) in passer rating with a 102.4 score.
The passer rating stat in the NFL isn’t perfect. For example, Blaine Gabbert has a higher passer rating than Andrew Luck. But not a single person on this planet, not even Blaine’s wife, would pick him over Andrew Luck to successfully walk and chew gum at the same time, let alone play quarterback in the NFL. With that being said, it does heavily weigh two of arguably the most important aspects of playing quarterback in the NFL: a QB’s accuracy and how many interceptions he throws. Griffin? He leads the rookie pack with 65.6 completion % and has just 5 interceptions. 5! That basically is a good day for Tony Romo. Accurate passers who don’t turn the ball over are an absolute premium in the pass happy NFL, and nobody did it better this year than RGIII. Many of you are probably saying, “Yeah Joey, but we all know that Total QBR is a much more realistic statistic when rating an NFL quarterback! Start living in the 21st century already.” Thank you dear reader! I will do just that.
Robert Griffin III led all rookies (and was sixth in the league) with a Total QBR of 71.4.
What QBR basically does is add rushing statistics, sacks taken, and several other statistics and weighs them to see how much value a QB added in clutch situations and how many points they add to a team. Or some other bullshit; I don’t know, I’m not a math major. Anyway, he leads all rookies in this category as well. That would be two for two. “Great Joey, but Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson led their teams to the playoffs! They won more games than RGIII did. How ‘bout DEM APPLES!?” Thanks for bringing up my next point!
Robert Griffin III led the Washington Redskins to their first NFC East Divisional Championship in 13 years.
People talk about how great the turnaround in Indianapolis was. They love to point to the fact that they won two games last year. That is great and all Indy fans, but you realize that you have a competent owner, a winning culture, and a Super Bowl in the last 10 years, right? You guys basically make the playoffs every season. You just happened to be awful last year. Great. Now imagine BEING TERRIBLE FOR 20 YEARS, then you can appreciate how special Griffin is and what he accomplished. He (almost) singlehandedly led a downtrodden franchise, who hadn’t won its division in 13 years and hasn’t been relevant in the NFL for 20, to a home playoff game. Russell Wilson was surrounded by a top five defense, a top 10 running back, a good offensive line, and a playoff team from a year ago. Luck played for arguably the best franchise in the NFL the last 15 years. What Griffin accomplished with this Redskins team, with a rookie RB, five straight losing seasons, a coach on the hot seat, and a terrible, injury riddled defense is truly astounding. No other rookie QB this year led their team to a home playoff game and division title. Not Andrew Luck, and not Russell Wilson.
Robert Griffin III set a rookie record with 815 rushing yards and only turned the ball over 8 times all year.
RGIII finished the season 20th in rushing in the NFL. He out-rushed Michael Turner, Darren McFadden, Ryan Mathews, Willis McGahee, and DeMarco Murray. He basically is a top 15 running back mixed with a top five QB. He also turned the ball over just eight times total (5 ints, 3 fumbles lost). That is just astounding for a rookie. Wilson, by comparison, turned it over 15 times and Luck 28 times.
Robert Griffin III made these two plays.
Well that certainly passes the eye test.
He is a natural leader.
People have tried to make the argument throughout the year that Andrew Luck is a great leader and that’s why he deserves to win the award over RGIII. These people are boobs and obviously haven’t been paying much attention to what has happened here in Washington. RGIII was named as a captain after the bye week with his team’s record standing at 3-6. He stood up in front of the media and told his team and the world that they were still going to make the playoffs despite the fact that only four teams ever have started 3-6 and still made the playoffs. What did he do? He went on an absolute tear, helping lead his team to seven wins in a row, including five wins over divisional rivals. As a rookie! Ask anybody in DC what the difference this year was with the Redskins and they will all tell you it’s RGIII. It’s not only his playing ability, but also his work ethic, dedication, and leadership that have led the way. Not taking anything away from Luck, but RGIII is as much, if not more, of a leader than Luck.
There you have it folks. It honestly is unfathomable to me that anybody could put Luck or Wilson above RGIII for ROY. The numbers speak for themselves. The eye test speaks for itself. His consistency all year speaks for itself.
Finally, I will leave you with this story. I was at the mall in the Adidas store when the Redskins were 3-6 and had just lost to a bad Carolina team. Two kids, no older than 8 or 9, walked up to a poster with their dad. The dad said, “kids, do you know who that is?” They both immediately went wide eyed, and said “RGIII!” I happened to be wearing my RGIII jersey and pointed it out to the kids. We then all started chanting “RGIII! RGIII! RGIII!” in the middle of the mall. A player on a 3-6 team, playing for a franchise who hasn’t had anything to really smile about since 1991, and we were chanting RGIII’s name in public. When is the last time you saw something like that in DC?
Good luck on the recovery Griff; we are all pulling for you.