RG3’s Rookie Year: 15 games started. Redskins go 10-6. Make the playoffs (and get a home game) for the first time in seemingly decades (really wasn’t that long). 815 yards rushing, 3200 yards passing. Becomes, by some measure, the fourth-most marketable guy in the NFL. Books are written left and right.
RG3’s Second Year: Starts 13 games. Team goes 3-13 (3-10 with him). 3200 yards passing again, but 16 TD (vs. 20 as a rookie) and 12 INT (vs. 5 as a rookie). Runs for 489 yards instead of 815, and has zero rushing TDs (as opposed to 7 as a rookie).
Of course, it’s all because of this injury in the playoff game they hosted after his rookie year:
Now he has a statue outside Baylor (his alma mater), he’s claiming this season is all good, there’s a new coach in town (Jon Gruden’s brother!), and everyone’s thinking this might be a make-or-break year.
Remember: QBs, for better or worse, are often compared to the QBs drafted around them. In Andrew Luck’s first year, he made the playoffs (just like RG3). He lost in the wild-card round (just like RG3). In his second year, he won a thrilling game in the wild-card round (RG3 didn’t), then lost in the Divisional Round to a dynastic team (RG3 was long since home at that point). Peter King just put the Colts in the Super Bowl. He didn’t put the Redskins there.
This isn’t really make-or-break for RG3, because it’s only his third year — but if the Colts keep improving and the Redskins are a 5-11 team, it may start to feel that way. Sports fans are notoriously quick on the judgement trigger.
Here’s a tweet that maybe doesn’t help, or maybe makes the story better:
Here’s a good take from Drew Magary, who’s been writing these “Why Your Team Sucks” columns for Deadspin that are usually fairly funny:
Who are these THEY people? I didn’t know you in high school, asshole. The reason people doubt you now is because you looked fucking terrible last season and this preseason. And you still won’t fucking slide! Congratulations, Skins. You have a quarterback who is effective only when he is trying to get himself hurt. It’s everything you ever deserved. RGIII is done. Already. He’ll never be as good as he was in his rookie year, and it’s the team’s fault.
Look, I’m not a doctor by any means — and neither is Troy Aikman, although his opinion is that RG3 will never be the same — and we all saw Adrian Peterson come back from a knee injury and basically run through entire defenses the following year, so positive things can happen and the human body is amazing and all that.
One of the problem is that having a QB like RG3 demands a certain type of focus and personnel building around the offensive line; the Redskins haven’t exactly done that. They have good, mostly experienced guys starting there — but they’re not necessarily tremendous mobile guys or even really good guys. (Trent Williams might be an exception in the latter category.)
They have some weapons with DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Albert Morris — but they scored over 430 points in 2012 and 334 points in 2013. That’s a big drop-off, and it’s not all because of the rushed RG3 return.
Short answer here is: I don’t think anyone knows. He has some weapons, albeit not the greatest O-Line. The defense is OK — Jim Haslett, their coordinator, has always been a guy who takes more risks than he probably should — so it might be a team that needs to score points (although overall, the NFC East isn’t amazing, so six times a year they may not have to — or rather four times a year, because they might need to vs. the Eagles). He seems determined and capable, and the DC area is a pretty good sports fandom community. The Redskins are a proud organization — even if their current owner can seem a bit clueless here and there — and it would be good for everyone (TV ratings, the media, larger coastal cities, yadda yadda yadda) if the Skins were at least competitive. But to think that we might see the exact same thing we saw in 2012? That’s a hard one to determine.
Or heck, even remember this game?
What say you: is RG3 ‘back,’ or was 2012 his one truly excellent NFL season?