Yes, he’s human. Andrew Luck threw a couple of picks tonight against the tough Steelers defense, but he also rebounded to throw some great passes throughout the ballgame. Like all of the rookies he’ll go through some growing pains, but we can see many of the tools that have had scouts excited for years.
Meanwhile, Robert Griffin III had a tougher evening the other night as he took some sacks and coughed up a fumble. Naturally, everyone got overly excited by his performance in his first preseason game when he face little pressure, but the Bears weren’t as accommodating, and Griffin seemed to rely too much on his feet as he felt pressure. Fans shouldn’t overreact to these setbacks in preseason just like they shouldn’t overreact to his first game, as the coaches will be hammering Griffin to make better decisions. He was able to rely on his feet in college from time to time, but he’ll probably get banged up quickly if he tries to keep that up in the pros. Shanahan will push him to be very selective on when he decides to take off.
With fantasy football and 24-hour Twitter comments, fans can’t help but hang on every preseason pass, but time is a critical component in the development of NFL quarterbacks, and the amount of time needed is usually hard to predict. Luck seems to be the most ready as everyone expected, but we’ll have to see how it plays out. For some fantasy football owners, both Luck and RG3 will seem very tempting during the draft, but I’ll probably focus on a proven quarterback instead.
With OTAs, everyone can look good playing in shorts without real pressure. But coaches and journalists can now see these guys in person and on the practice field, and the early reports are enthusiastic when it comes to Robert Griffin III.
The power is so great the Washington Redskins don’t describe their prodigy’s throwing as a verb but rather a noun.
“The Arm,” they say. And every conversation about Robert Griffin III includes some mention of “The Arm” because those players who have experienced it don’t appear to have seen something quite like “The Arm” before.
They try to describe it, putting into words the strength that awes them. And as they do, the stories get larger and seemingly more preposterous, except that the men don’t smile when they tell them. They say “The Arm” is real, even if their attempts to make it come to life sound ridiculous.
“It’s more of running to your left and flicking your wrist and throwing the ball 70 yards,” Washington’s backup quarterback Rex Grossman said, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
Then he shook his head.
“His arm almost comes off like a whip,” Grossman added, holding his own hand above his head, then flinging it forward about a foot in a vain attempt to demonstrate the way Griffin throws.
It looks a lot like the way Michael Vick throws, Grossman finally said. Perhaps nobody in the NFL throws the ball harder with seemingly less effort than Vick. Except maybe now, RG III.
I saw Vick play live in college and I was struck then with his sling-shot arm. Despite his drama-filled career we all got to see that arm in the NFL as well. Yet Vick is also an example of how arm strength and speed will only take you so far. Time will tell if RG3’s impressive physical talents leads to championship-level play.
As for Brandon Weeden, he doesn’t have the star power of RG3, at least not yet, but he’s benefiting from being compared to Colt McCoy. The Cleveland media has been pretty hard on Colt, saying that he looks like a little kid next to Weeden, but McCoy hasn’t helped his standing much with his demeanor. All of the confidence seems to be gone, and watching Weeden make rocket throws down field hasn’t helped things. Weeden is bigger and stronger and he has a much better arm. There’s no disputing that, even if we’re just in OTAs. Of course Weeden has to prove he can deliver against a pass rush, but he has the tools to succeed.
Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor University looks for a receiver during the team’s NCAA football game against the Washington Huskies at the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, December 29, 2011. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
In my opinion, Griffin’s speed doesn’t enhance his draft stock. It damages it.
I am not a Robert Griffin hater. I love RG3. In all likelihood, he will be my favorite NFL player next season. He could quickly become my favorite active athlete, ahead of Tiger Woods, Ray Lewis and Jeff George (has yet to file his retirement paperwork).
But I’m worried about Griffin. He’s blessed with too many tools. Oftentimes, the greatest athletes are physically limited, which strengthens their focus. Bill Russell could never match Wilt Chamberlain’s size and limitless athleticism. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson weren’t the greatest leapers or the quickest on their feet.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are relatively immobile. They play from the pocket because they have no choice. They mastered the art of playing from the pocket because they had no other choice.
NFL games are won most consistently by quarterbacks who play from the pocket. If a quarterback leaves the pocket, he’s going to get hit. If a quarterback gets hit regularly, he’s going to get hurt. If a franchise quarterback gets injured, his team has little chance of winning the Super Bowl.
NFL teams are looking for the next Manning or Brady. Or the next Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. A little mobility is good, especially if the quarterback moves in the pocket in an effort to throw downfield. Rodgers and Big Ben are terrific at moving to throw. Is that how Griffin will use his athleticism?
Or does Griffin have so much speed that he’ll channel Michael Vick?
Whitlock goes on to recount Vick’s early problems as he relied too much on his speed and athleticism. Athletes like Steve Young had to learn how to stay in the pocket.
Whitlock basically sums up the primary reason why Andrew Luck is rated higher than RG3, even as some think RG3 has more upside. It’s a risk/reward analysis. Luck has shown that he can win strictly as a pocket passer, using his athleticism only when needed.
Can RG3 learn to play that way? Of course he can. But just because he has the aptitude and temperament to learn doesn’t guarantee success. Luck isn’t guaranteed success either, but we’ve seen him operate consistently from the pocket, so there’s less risk.
The St. Louis Rams announced that quarterback Sam Bradford suffered a high ankle sprain during Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers. The team’s statement on Twitter stated that Bradford “will be day to day this week but certainly limited in practice this week.”
Bradford’s 2011 season has been a nightmare as the Rams have gone 0-6. After 5 games he only has three TDs against 2 interceptions, and his completion percentage is down from 60% in 2010 to 52.8% this season. The Rams implemented a new offense after losing offensive coordinator Pat Shurmer and his West Coast offense, so Bradford has had to adjust to Josh McDaniels as his new coordinator. McDaniels has had his own problems after two tough years as the head coach in Denver.
A sophomore slump isn’t uncommon for NFL quarterbacks, so Rams fans shouldn’t panic, but Bradford needs to be on the field, and this injury may slow him down for a while.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton passes against the Green Bay Packers in an NFL football game in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 18, 2011. UPI/Nell Redmond .
Back in April, I have to admit I was very skeptical about Cam Newton being the #1 pick. He was obviously a stud in college and he had a big arm, but there were questions about his ability to run an NFL offense and make the quick reads given the type of offense he ran in college.
After putting up 422 yards in week one, Newton cam back with 432 yards this week, and he did it against the Green Bay Packers. He threw for one TD and ran for another, but he also threw three interceptions.
So, what can we make of this? The kid obviously has a ton of talent and he’ll likely be a consistent highlight reel, but can he be a consistent winner? Will he be a stat machine, or a guy that can make good decisions and win in the post season?
It’s obviously way too early to tell, but so far he has our attention.