November 30, 2012

NY Giants WR Victor Cruz Is Not Particularly Perspicacious

Just sayin'.

If you see him, and have a couple hours, feel free to explain.

October 19, 2012

RG3's Brilliant Play—no, not that one

Fans of the Washington Redskins have seen the 76-yard, game clinching Robert Griffin III touchdown gallop against the Vikings last Sunday dozens of times by now. And that is as it should be—the play is already ingrained in Redskins lore.

Here, enjoy it again.

What I want to call attention to, before the team rides that wave off to New York for a chance to measure themselves against the defending champion Giants, is a play that many watching the game, if not most, will have barely noticed at the time. And that I'd wager many of those who did notice have already relegated to the cerebral archives given what happened later that day.

If I might set the stage...

It's the middle of the second quarter. The Redskins have been taking punches since the opening kickoff and trail Minnesota 9-3. It could be much worse. The Vikings offense has been moving the ball at will but thus far been unable to punch it into the endzone, having to settle for three field goals. Good thing too, because at 21-3, or even 17-3, the game has an entirely different feel at this point.

The Redskins offense has finally gotten off the schneid, putting together a drive in their previous possession but having been forced to settle for three points of their own on a 50-yard field goal by new kicker (and budding legend) Kai Forbath.

They get a defensive stop and get the ball back deep in their own end. The Redskins are penalized for holding on an apparent first down completion from Griffin to TE Fred Davis out over the 20, and face a 2nd-and-13 from their own 7-yard line.

Griffin drops back from under center, briefly turning his back on the line of scrimmage. Behind him, Viking DE Jared Allen comes clean and bears down on Griffin as he starts to come around. As the rookie turns back to face the field, he's one yard deep in his own end zone.  Allen is two paces away to his left and charging.

Freeze frame.

This is where the Redskins of the past generation stumble. Or worse. They get sacked for a safety ... sacked for a fumble and defensive touchdown ... throw wildly and get intercepted ... get called for intentional grounding. You know, something not good. You can see it quite readily in your minds eye, if you're the masochistic sort. 

Instead, the young quarterback, still on his heels, spots RB Alfred Morris at the 5-yard line and snaps off a sidearm bullet that hits Morris between the numbers. Morris catches the pass and bulls forward to the 16. Griffin takes a pop from Allen a split second after delivering the ball and gets dumped on his arse.

He sits up, shakes it off, rises and walks calmly to the huddle.

No turnover, no penalty, no incompletion. Just cold execution. And instead of facing 3rd-and-potential disaster, the Redskins face a makeable 3rd-and-five, well out from under the shadow of their goal posts.

On the next play RG3 calmly stands in a collapsing pocket and finds WR Santana Moss between two defenders for a six yard gain and a first down. The Redskins proceed from there on an 11-play, 90 yard touchdown drive to take the lead and turn the game around.

No, I haven't put a stopwatch on the play, but it's not about however many tenths of a second it took for him to make that play. It's about a Read/React/Execute Algorithm that is simply off the charts. Particularly if those charts happen to track quarterback play in the nation's capital. Think about it. Rex Grossman sure doesn't make that play. Neither do Jason Campbell, Mark Brunnel, Patrick Ramsey, Brad Johnson or any other of the loooong list of names who have started at quarterback for this team over the last 20 years.

But Griffin makes the play. Not only does he not make a negative play, he turns it into a positive that, arguably, is the turning point in a game the Redskins were in danger of seeing get out of hand early, not unlike what happened to them against the Cincinnati Bengals earlier this season. And he makes it looks so routine announcer Dick Stockton's voice doesn't even change making the call.

The 76-yard heroic touchdown sprint to ice the game later that evening will live on in NFL Films glory forever. But for this one longtime fan of the burgundy and gold, the seemingly routine play much earlier in the day, a play that turned potential disaster (and potential 2-4 start) into a chance for the team to find its legs, right itself and roar off to a feel-good win and 3-3 start ... is not one I shall soon forget.

Only a very special player makes that play, and makes it look that routine, all of six games into his NFL career.

Kid is the real thing.

September 28, 2012

Week 4 Storylines: RG3, Haslett and Redskins Embattled Defense

In Tampa Bay this week, where the Buccaneers are preparing to host the Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon, the talk is about "containing RG3." As it should be. From the outside looking in, the most intriguing thing about the Redskins is their suddenly dangerous offense, led by dynamic rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.

The phrase "highest scoring offense in the NFL" has a certain cachet, after all. It gets attention. It's also a legitimate concern to opposing teams. The Redskins are scoring a crisp 33 points per game, which projects out over the course of the season to 528 points. Clearly, preparing to play Washington had better involve crafting a plan designed to keep the hotshot rookie from "going off" and dominating Sunday night's Sportscenter highlights.

What the Bucs are not saying publicly, however, but what Redskins fans and observers know all too well they are probably thinking, is that to beat the Redskins these days what you really need to do is throw the damn ball. Like, throw it a lot. All day, all over. Deep, short, left, right, middle, whatever--just throw it.

Because the Redskins defense, statistically sound enough against the run (9th overall), has been performing so abysmally against the pass (31st) that the team is giving up 33.7 points per game. To put that number in perspective, the Redskins are on pace to set the all-time NFL record for points allowed (539) in a 16-game regular season. That infamous distinction currently belongs to the 1981 Baltimore Colts, who rolled over to the tune of 533.  

So rather than reveling in the surprisingly prolific training-wheel phase of their young franchise quarterback's career, and enjoying realistic discussions about Washington competing for a playoff spot (rarely a realistic expectation behind a rookie quarterback), Redskins fans face each successive week more convinced that the defense is simply incapable of stopping anybody, or of holding any lead.

The Redskins face the first real crossroads game of 2012 on Sunday. With a win, they can finish the first quarter of the season 2-2, with both wins against NFC opponents. A 2-2 September would bring another few weeks of playoff relevance in a season that, in the long view, is more realistically the launching pad to a new era.

With a third consecutive loss, however, and a fall to 1-3 in the deeply competitive NFC East, the 2012 season almost certainly will become an extended test lab for 2013 and beyond. That would not be the end of the world, obviously--not in view of the dawning reality that this franchise fellow is the real deal--but still a huge disappointment given the unexpected early success of the offense.

At 1-2 the Redskins are on the edge. It didn't have to be that way. Consider:

September 13, 2012

1-0 Redskins Raise the Bar

Last week I predicted that the Redskins would make a game of it Sunday in New Orleans, but in the end their defense would not be able to control the quick-release and savvy of Saints QB Drew Brees. Nothing beats being loud wrong than being loud wrong about losing.

Mr. Haslett? Well done, sir.

Some Kid Named Bob

Millions of words have been written this week about the sparkling debut of Robert Griffin, III, the Redskins instant-star rookie quarterback. "Obviously," as head coach Mike Shanahan might say, "any time a rookie quarterback makes his first NFL start, on the road against a playoff contender, and plays smart and as well as Robert did and has the best debut of any rookie quarterback in league history, you have to be happy."

By and large, talk from the media and fans alike have reflected that fuzziness. And of course there were a few obligatory "yeah but" contributions. That's what we have writers like Sally Jenkins for. Hard to tell if she really believed the football world needed reminding it was just one game, or simply drew the short straw when they were handing out assignments Monday at the Washington Post.

So, rather than try to find a fresh way of saying "wow," let me simply single out a piece that stood out for me. The last paragrash, in particular, succinctly puts into words my own takeaway from week one, heading into the nascent RGIII era. From Chris Brown at Grantland:
Griffin’s advantage is that he adds an element to Shanahan's pro-style offense that can't be understated. It cannot be emphasized enough that all those supposedly "easy" passes Griffin threw early on were decisions he had to make based on how the defense played. That may be the most exciting thing about his debut. Unlike many NFL coaches whose egos and lack of creativity won't allow them to utilize their players’ strengths and weaknesses, Shanahan is evolving his offense into a reflection of his young quarterback. Robert Griffin III is not a "running quarterback," but rather a quarterback who can also run; Shanahan's Redskins offense is not a college-style spread offense, but a blend of a pro-style system that also incorporates some of college football’s newest and best ideas. Griffin certainly has a long way to go, but his development — and the development of this offense — will be fun to watch, unless, that is, you're the one trying to stop it.
Coaching – Gameplan Edition

Mike Shanahan and Jim Haslett had months to prepare for New Orleans. And Shanahan's NFL opening day record (15-4) speaks for itself. Week two is different. Week two settles into the "normal" preparation cycle with current game tape to study for both his own team and the upcoming opponent. St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fischer is no slouch–you can rest assured he will have his team ready to play, fundamentally sound, and will throw looks at the Redskins that they will not have seen before.

This will be a good early test of the 2012 Redskins' brain trust. Will their game plans prove as on-target and effective with one week to prepare? Will they succeed in keeping the young Redskins from suffering a classic "letdown" game after the emotional upset win against the Saints?

One thing about the NFL–last week is always a long time ago.

Coaching – In-Game Edition

If the Redskins succeed in building a two- or even three-possession second half lead again, will they, unlike last week, feel comfortable enough to let their rookie quarterback step on the proverbial snake's neck and finish the Rams off? Because last week, it says here, they did not.

The Saints game should never have come down to a 40-yard Drew Brees lob into the endzone from possible overtime. It should never have been that close; not with as dominant as the Redskins had been in building a 16-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Saints hadn't stopped the Redskins all day, nor had much luck moving the ball againt them. It all seemed to change then, in a way that felt eerily foreboding.

Judge for yourself...

September 11, 2012

Remembrance and Celebration

Tuesday, September 11.

It is something I know, deep in my bones, yet only occasionally acknowledge. Let today be such a day.


... grants the unselfconscious, joyful gift of celebrating this:


September 7, 2012

Redskins New Era Faces Stern First Test

With the 2012 NFL season and dawn of a new era in Redskins football (make no mistake, boom or bust, history will record 2012 as the beginning of the Robert Griffin III Era) just two days away, let us take a last  lingering look at the Big Picture.

Because come Sunday, and then over the five months to follow, we will spend our time burrowing deep into into the delicious minutia of the games themselves.

* deep breath *

The preseason (3-1) was certainly satisfying. There were plenty of positives:
  • flashes of RG3 potential
  • surprisingly crisp rookie backup QB Kirk Cousins
  • powerful rookie RB Afred Morris
  • as deep and athletic a WR corps as we have seen since The Posse
  • something only veteran Redskins observers can recall--apparent depth. This is something the Redskins have NOT boasted in recent memory. The thorough dismantling and domination of Tampa Bay's backups by Washington's offered, at the very least, a comforting sense that the tide may indeed be rising.   
Did the preseason provide reason for optimism, even with the first-half egg the team laid up in Chicago? Absolutely. There were unmistakeable signs of emerging talent and a team coming together. If one squinted his/her eyes just a bit, one could even see the realistic possiblity that the first year of the new era could feature meaningful games in December.

Coins, of couse, have two sides. There were also reminders that this Redskins team is still very much a work in progress. One need only cue up the aforementioned first half in the Windy City as Exhibit A.

The preseason saw:
  • clear "rookie moments" from the young franchise quarterback
  • hold-your-breath, cover-your-eyes moments courtesy of the offensive line's pass protection
  • perhaps most saliently (heading into a week one matchup against New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees and his high-flying passing circus), a defensive secondary that may test the metro area's Pepto and Advil reserves this fall.
Cause for concern? Of course there is. The team is not a finished product (assuming there is such a thing in today's NFL). In addition to starting a raw rookie at quarterback, the offensive line remains transitionary at best and the defensive secondary could wear question marks instead of numerals. Which would be better than targets, but still.

So just as it is possible to imagine meaningful games in December, it is also possible to imagine playing out the string by November. Damn coins.

The 2012 preseason in a nutshell? More good than bad.

* flush *

On to Game One...

August 24, 2012

Redskins vs Colts, Week 3 - A Tale of Two Realities

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times, it is the age of wisdom, it is the age of foolishness, it is the epoch of belief, it is the epoch of incredulity, it is the season of Light, it is the season of Darkness, it is the spring of hope, it is the winter of despair, we have everything before us, we have nothing before us ...
Best? Easy. Robert Griffin, III vs Andrew Luck. Third game of the preseason, when teams incorporate game-planning. When starters play up to three quarters. As close to "real" NFL football as we have seen since the Super Bowl ended last February.

Worst? Also easy. RG3 vs Luck, in preseason, being sold as meaning something. When "starters playing three quarters" is interpreted by many as said veteran starters, as a group, taking it even remotely as seriously as they will when the games count. When "game-planning" is being sold as even remotely comparable to the hyper-targeted scheming we will not see until the results matter. The inevitable truth that, even knowing it is but a glorified scrimmage, we will, at some point, find ourselves emotionally caught up in the moment.
Wisdom?  Of course. Our higher intellects do still rule the day. Win or lose, look great or look awful, in our heart of hearts we accept that preason is meaningless. Even Joe Gibbs said so ("nothing matters less than preseason").
Foolishness? You think? Skip Bayless. Chris Berman. Handsomely paid television, radio and interweb experts solemnly attesting to the meaning to be found wihtin the meaninglessness, if one is simply willing to accept their genius. Armchair quarterbacks, coaches, and general managers finding interwebbian soapbox opportunites galore from which to share their told-you-so genius.
Belief? You bet. When RG3 sidesteps an unblocked pass rusher and whips a 25-yard laser in the seam to a streaking Pierre Garçon for a touchdown, we cleave to it as portent of much awesomeness to come. When the defense stones the Colts on fourth-and-1 from our own 38-yard line, to turn away a potential scoring drive, it strikes us as sufficient evidence that defensive coordinator Jim Hazlett is, indeed, the right man for the job. 
Incredulity? Without a doubt. We are two short weeks from the season opener, on the road against the New Orleans Saints, and our projected starting offensive line has yet to play a down together. Heading into week three of the preaseason, we are looking at the very real possibility that our workhourse featured running back in said season opener will be a sixth round rookie out of Florida  Atlantic. And our defense continues to seemingly deal only in extremes—Bills dominance, Bears flatulence—and little in between. 
Season of Light? Please. It's Fall. It's the Redskins. Life is Good.
Season of Darkness? Sigh. Summer is almost over. The mind-numbing incompetence that has been Redskins football for the last twenty years casts a long shadow indeed, even over the apparent Redskins Spring that dawned the brisk March morning we learned they had traded up in the draft for the chance to land their first franchise quarterback in a generation. As we have been reminded so many times over that forlorn time, hope can be a dangerous thing. 
Spring of hope? Damn straight. After 20 years, we actually have what even stone-cold reason tells us is a legtimate NFL quarterback prospect. We know it's going to take time—probably two or three years—before his tide fully raises all Redskins ships, but ware okay with that. The joy is in the journey, not the destination.
Winter of despair? Wait. Two or three more years? I can't take this anymore.
Everything before us? Four o'clock Saturday afternoon, the Washington Redskins take to their home field for the first time since January 1, 2012. Leading the charge through the fireworks and thundering  music will be none other than The Man himself, Robert Griffin, III. He will play up to three quarters of football, with a little systemic support around him finally, perhaps even allowed to run a few plays of the offense we will see in September. We will finally get a glimpse of the magic we believe will be ours to savor for a decade and more. Our house. Our man. Our team.
Nothing before us? Nod. It's preseason. No matter how hard "they" try to sell it otherwise, the truth is that nothing matters less.  
Ah, well. Take heart friends. The regular season is but two short weeks away.
It is a far far better thing...

August 15, 2012

RG3 Unspectacular But On Schedule in Preseason Opener

Week 1 of the preseason is less about analysis than it is celebrating The Return of NFL Football.  It is for reveling in the moment. It's about seeing your favorite team hit the field for the first time in a seeming eternity. As long as no key player goes down with serious injury, the preseason opener is largely ceremonial.

But now that the initial breathless"here we go" moment has passed, and we have seen with our own wondering eyes young QB Robert Griffin III, in a Redskins uniform, in live action, for the first time, it's time to take a deep breath and begin to narrow our focus.

In that spirit, here are some semi-serious (it is still preseason) thoughts after the warm fuzzies have faded from week one:

I thought much of the media reaction to RG3's brief appearance, particularly from the national media, was strangely over the top. To my eye, the man barely broke a sweat. Six pass attempts, one successful audible, zero drama.

To be sure, it was good to see him looking poised, standing tall in the pocket and delivering accurately. But until we begin building a meaningful sample size of kind of “off schedule” plays that head coach Mike Shanahan keeps talking about, and that are what is supposed to make Kid Bob special, we really won’t learn much about where RG3 is in his developmentnot so much in his physical development, but the mental side. The in-game, on-the-fly judgment side.

Until the first time he has to come back on 3rd-and-12, having just been smacked in the mouth and landed upon by an irritated 6'3", 315 lb. defensive tackle on second down, we won’t begin to see beyond all the shiny, seductive potential and into, shall we say, the afterglow reality.

Not to overstate the case, but with two brief nod-of-recognition exceptions, what I took from RG3's  brief debut was much ado about not much. The three completions he made to open WR's Pierre Garτon and Leonard Hankerson were throws I frankly expect any professional quarterback to make. He went through his progressions, yes, and that was noted and appreciated. But there was really nothing unusual to them, good or bad.

His best pass of the night, easily, was the sideline 3rd-down incompletion to Garτon that many feel should have been called complete. Friggin' faux zebras.  The throw showed true NFL accuracy and touch.

But even that one didn't really get my attention. Here's what did:

1) the one RG3 moment of the night that I might call "off schedule"the ad-libedb, off-platform incompletion to TE Niles Paul. On that one, Griffin III spun out of a break to his left to find an unblocked Bills defender in his face. He insitinctively stopped, twisted and snapped off an athletic, accurate throw in a flash that, if nothing else, turned a potentially bad play into a harmless one. I don't mind telling you that made me smile.

2) the WR screen that Garτon took to the house for the game's only TD. Why? Becuase RG3 made it look easy, and that is something that those who have watched Redskins quarterbacks struggle mightily for a generation can attest it was not. The pass may have only covered a few yards, but it was on time, well-paced and on target.

Professional, even.

Both of those plays showed me hints of what I have been looking in vain for in a Redskins QB for too many years to count—the ability to throw quickly and accurately, if necessary from improvised platforms, when the natural rhythm of a play breaks down or a quicker-than-normal release becomes necessary.

Or, put in more in-vogue terms ... off schedule.

All in all, the 2012 preseason opener was a satisfiying appetizer. Tasty, not too filling, whetting the appetite just so. With our palates now awakened, here's to a slightly more zesty second course, and further promise of what is to come, Saturday night against the Chicago Bears.

May 25, 2012

Redskins Palate Cleanser

Tired of salary c(r)ap?

Bummed preseason is still 76 days away?

Frustrated with's flaccid OTA coverage?

You're not alone.

If I might make a suggestion ... 

Feed your passion.

Feed it. 


May 16, 2012

The Waiting

In the days and weeks following the St. Louis/Washington trade, up to and through the NFL draft and subsequent Redskins rookie camp, feeding the daily Robert Griffin III obsession was easy. There was such a cornucopia of news available that the difficult part was trying to assimilate it all in the few hours a working person has to spare.

But now the dust has settled.

In the interminable lull between camps, the available nourishment has been pared down to following links–any links–even if they're about socks.

These days the morning ritual includes a quick stop on Google's sports news roundup, typing "RG3" in the search field and scanning the entire list. You know, in case someone somewhere wrote something new about the Redskins, their new quarterback phenom, and their inevitable return to rightful gridiron relevance.

Or better yet there might be a new video.

At first, the Baylor games were the video prize. On-field heroics. Amazing throws, breathtaking runs. Having watched them all repeatedly, however, today the off-field, who-is-this-guy version have become equally prized. Maybe more so, given that ultimately they are what led to the kid getting under our Skins.

Twenty-two year old Robert Griffin III has spawned more man-crushes–particularly among men who generally cringe at mention of such a thing–than anyone since Art Monk was hailed into Canton.

And no, it's not just about the kid. Any thinking soul knows there is more to it than that. It's about the kid becoming quarterback of the Washington Redskins.

So will this all prove just another too-good-to-be-true infatuation? Jeremy Lin 2.0? Yeah maybe–shit happens.

But not yet. Not today ...

May 9, 2012

Space Rocks and Matriculation: The Case for Kirk Cousins

For the record, as I write this, my second monitor is sporting jpegs of rabbits feet, four-leaf covers and a random Redskins cheerleader (which may not bring luck but damn). I am also whispering an agnostic's prayer to beat the band.

With that preemptive apologia in mind ...

What if Robert Griffin III, the Washington Redskins prized rookie quarterback and potential "franchise saviour," were to mysteriously go missing this summer, never to be heard from again? Or get clonked on the head by a meterorite, contract amnesia and no longer be able to read the free safety?

You know, what if something bad happens, and it turns out RG3 doesn't Captain My Captain the Redskins out of the woods after all?

The question has to be asked. Not in the abstract, but in the practical, the concrete, the "we better have a Plan B in place or we risk some very real, very unhappy consequences."

One thing the Redskins absolutely could not afford to do was head into 2012 and beyond with no one but RG3 or Andrew Luck (I admit it, there were moments I wondered if knucklehead Indianopolis Colts owner Jim Irsay maybe was that flighty) standing between them and Rex Grossman.

You can hear the critics, right? If the Redskins not drafted a second quarterback in April, there would be a host of critics complaining, "so...if RG3 goes down we're back to Grossbeck?!"

I can pretty much guarantee the question was asked at Redskins Park in the days and weeks leading up to the NFL Draft. It better have been asked, because if it was not, the Asbburn Brain Trust would not have been doing their jobs.

Enter former Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins... 

May 4, 2012

Welcome Home, RGIII

It has been a generation.

1991 – 2011
Mark Rypien
Cary Conklin
Rich Gannon
John Friesz
Heath Shuler
Gus Frerotte
Trent Green
Brad Johnson
Jeff George
Tony Banks
Danny Wuerffel
Shane Matthews
Tim Hasselbeck
Patrick Ramsey
Mark Brunell
Todd Collins
Jason Campbell
Donovan McNabb
John Beck
Rex Grossman
2012 –

If you are a Redskins fan, you understand.


April 27, 2012

RG3 vs Luck Angle I Wish I'd Had the Guts to Post First

Rat farts.

I've been batting around a possible Robert Griffin III vs. Andrew Luck comparison angle for a couple of weeks now, but had yet to think through enough to try to give written form. 

It's a good one too, one of those potential "I called it!" moments one either ends up getting to crow about down the road or, alternatively, cringing from hoping no one remembers.

Wish I'd pulled the trigger.

I stumbled across this column by Chris Baldwin today. Baldwin claims it, nails it, owns it and punctuates it in a way that needs no elucidation.  He does to this concept what Heinlein did to any storyline he decided to explore.

So much for my future act-like-you-been-there moment of confirmation.

The article speaks more than clearly enough for itself, so you don't need me to add anything ... but for those not inclined to click links, it boils down to this:

The problem is the Colts picked a Sam Perkins with an MJ on the board.

So on the off chance the Redskins charismatic new quarterback becomes an NFL legend, helping the Washington Redskins carve new championship notches on their belts and becoming a cultural and international icon, I hereby humbly claim the right to point back to April 27, 2012, and, if not go all Tarzan about it, at least say:

Thanks for understanding, Chris.


April 25, 2012

RG3 Can Be Redskins Rising Tide

April 26, 2012 could well be the day the tide finally came in for the Washington Redskins.

Sometime around 8:30 pm on Thursday evening, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will officially announce that Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Baylor University, has been selected by the Redskins.

There will be much rejoicing, and I will be among those letting my inner child dance. Anyone who has lived the burgundy and gold life for any length of time will understand.

Sure, there are “ifs” involved—in the real world there always are.  As people are quick to remind us, there are no sure things. 

So let's deal with them right off the top.

Yes, RG3 played at Baylor, and yes, it is true that no great NFL quarterback has ever come out of the Big 12 Conference. There are familiar Big 12 names—Vince Young, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy—but no Big 12 quarterback has ever established a championship or Pro Bowl legacy in the NFL.

So while one can opt to project from that RG3 will continue the trend, I submit that there is another wy to look at it.  Before Jerry Rice no one talked much about the SWAC either.

Great players are not defined by where they played in college.

Then there is the eye ball test. This one I admit will linger for a while, even for some of those among us who are "all in" on RG3. The first time I watched one of his ubiquitous highlight reels I had the same reaction I got when I first studied the St. Louis Rams' Sam Bradford two years ago—the man ain’t big. In fact, he tends to thin. Those runners legs, and that track-star body in general, may not hold up.

Griffin's measureables, 6' 2 3/8" ht., 225 lbs., are fine on paper. But the eye test suggests a lithe, sinewy athlete and not necessarily an NFL stud. With the way pro quarterbacks get hit these days, and the way NFL pass pockets buzz with linebackers and defensive linemen creating mayhem at knee level, you would kind of like your franchise quarterback to have trees for legs, a la Ben Roethlisberger. RG3, for all his world-class speed and athleticism, has sprinters legs.

For a guy who will be standing and moving in and around in traffic as much as he is going to be, particularly early in his career, and who is going to be taking his fair share of big hits and in-traffic takedowns, that lean body and hurdlers legs are going to be at risk. There is simply no way around it. I expect I will not be the only Redskins fan cringing every time he goes down in a pile. 

So yes ... there are ifs.

Happily, as I dug deeper and started researching him in earnest, I discovered that what sets Robert Griffin III apart, and makes the cost the Redskins paid to secure his services more than palatable, are not primarily his eye-popping athletic skills and measurables. Although they are real, and they are spectacular.

No, what sets this guy apart is what he has inside ...