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 development—not 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.
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.