In 2012, Robert Griffin III, affectionately known to the rest of the country as RG3, became the first rookie quarterback to start an opening game for the Washington Redskins since 1961. Fresh off a Heisman-winning season at Baylor, Griffin was so hot that the Redskins gave the Los Angeles Rams a stockpile of picks to secure him with the second pick in the 2012 NFL Draft—and it paid immediate dividends.
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In the ‘Skins opener against the Saints, RG3 went bananas. He started the game by completing his first seven passes, including an 88-yard catch-and-run touchdown to Pierre Garcon for his first NFL TD. He was magnificent all game long, throwing for 320 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 42 yards in a 40-32 Redskins win. He parlayed that performance all the way to being named Rookie of the Year, guiding the Redskins to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth.
And then Griffin’s career essentially collapsed. During the team’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs, Griffin appeared to be nursing a leg injury. After the game, an MRI showed he’d torn his LCL, and would need major surgery during the off-season. Though he returned as the Redskins’ starting quarterback in 2013, RG3 was never the same. Whether because of his injury or defensive adjustments made by Redskins opponents to stop their zone-read offense, or a combination of the two, the Skins posted a 3-13 record in 2013, followed by a dismal 4-12 2014 campaign during which RG3 was in and out of the lineup and out of favor with head coach Jay Gruden and Redskins brass.
RG3 is now gone from Washington, having officially been released by the team on Monday morning. But practically speaking, he’d been gone from the franchise since the 2015 season began with him on the bench. He’s a broken quarterback now, both physically and mentally, a result of the team’s ignorance of his leg injury when he was a rookie, his penchant for taking unnecessary hits after leaving the pocket and an exhaustive battle of his ego against his coaching staff and, sometimes, his own teammates.
A change of scenery might help, but the obvious question is whether RG3 can be rebuilt. In his sophomore season, his accuracy fell to 60 percent and his interceptions jumped from five in his rookie season to twelve. Because of his leg surgery, the acceleration he once used to speed past defenders on the way to 815 rushing yards his rookie year was severely reduced.
RG3 once looked like the next great quarterback. Now, the only thing that’s certain about his career is doubt.