It doesn’t take a doctor to tell you that Robert Griffin III’s knee could have used a few more months to heal. Griffin rushed back too soon without understanding the importance of the offseason that he was missing. The offseason between a player’s rookie and second professional season is arguably the most important of his career–especially for quarterbacks. Opposing defenses now have an entire season’s worth of film on the young quarterback, so failure to switch up play style could be detrimental. With his growth stunted by the knee injury he suffered in Washington’s Wild Card loss to Seattle and no offseason improvement under his belt, RGIII’s 2013 season was doomed from Week One.
Between his knee injury and the film teams had on him, RGIII’s greatest weapon, his legs, were almost a non-factor this past season. In 2013 RGIII’s total carries dropped almost 25% from 2012, and every other rushing stat of his fell in line. Managing only 489 yards in his 13 games this past season, Griffin was way down from the 815 yards and 7 touchdowns he stunned the league with during his rookie season. With his scrambling threat neutralized, RGIII’s passing game took a big hit. Griffin was thrown into a situation where he was required to perform as a pocket passer without having had any time during the offseason to improve his passing–needless to say, he struggled greatly. However, with his sophomore slump behind him, RGIII is poised to make a spectacular comeback in 2014.
Griffin will have a lot more going his way this coming season. He will be coming off of his first real NFL offseason during which he has the chance to get comfortable scrambling again, improve his passing, develop a chemistry with his receivers, and mix up his style a little bit to keep defenses guessing. When asked about his quarterback in a recent interview with USA Today, Redskins receiver Santana Moss perfectly summed up the how much this offseason has helped RGIII: “You can see a more confident guy, especially in his legs.” Griffin has also been receiving a lot of praise from new head coach Jay Gruden. It’s no secret that Griffin and Mike Shanahan didn’t quite get along towards the end of their time together, so it’s refreshing to see compliments going back and forth between coach and quarterback again. Gruden is coming off a great stint as offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals where he worked wonders with QB Andy Dalton’s numbers. With a ready-to-work talent like Griffin and Gruden’s offensive genius, the possibilities are endless for the Redskins.
Arguably the biggest key to Griffin’s success this coming season is the additions of former Eagles Pro Bowl Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson, who is coming off a career season and former Cardinals receiver Andre Roberts. Jackson and Roberts join fellow receiver Pierre Garcon (also coming off one of the best seasons of his career) to create a stacked receiving core sure to cause many problems for secondaries. Tight End Jordan Reed gives Griffin yet another passing weapon in the offense, but Reed’s health comes into play after his rookie year was cut short with a concussion. Finally, with his knee back to 100%, his running threat back, and the power running of third-year back Alfred Morris, Griffin’s stats are set to soar this coming season. Gruden loves to pass, so don’t be surprised if Griffin has over 500 attempts by the end of the season.
With his new weapons around him, Griffin could be looking at 4000 yards and as many as 30 touchdowns. These numbers would definitely make him a potential fantasy starter, despite the interceptions and fumbles. Griffin should drop to the 5th or 6th round in most leagues, leaving the first couple of rounds open to drafting your running backs, tight ends, and receivers. He may not put up Peyton Manning-esque numbers, but the idea of drafting a top 10 quarterback in a late round definitely makes Griffin worth the risk in many fantasy owners’ eyes. Don’t be afraid to give RGIII a second chance this year.