Matthew Iorio

Is RGIII Washington's Franchise Quarterback?

Created on Nov. 11, 2013 2:53 PM EST

I want to dispel all the "Is Robert Griffin III the Redskins' franchise quarterback?" talk. Frankly, I'm sick of it.

Since his college days at Baylor University, I've been a big RGIII fan. I instantly supported him because he was a guy who came out of nowhere and played for a school not known for its football program. What hooked me were his athleticism, personality, respectability and, most importantly, his arm — more specifically about his arm was how underrated it was. Critics saw the world-class speed and downplayed his accuracy. When I saw him hit a receiver in stride 50 yards down field in one game, I knew he was the real deal.

None of that has changed since. As we all know, he had a stellar rookie season: he passed for 3,200 yards — while completing 65.6 percent of his passes — 20 touchdowns and five interceptions for a 102.4 passer rating. In the run game, he rushed for 815 yards and seven touchdowns. In addition to that, he led the Redskins to a 10-6 record and the playoffs, was selected to the Pro Bowl and won Rookie of the Year.

Now that was one heck of a rookie season, and he instantly became the "man" in Washington. However, this season has started a little differently. 

With RGIII coming into the year after having surgery on his right knee and missing the preseason, many people were skeptical that he could match the play of his rookie season. The critics were out to gut him if he wasn't the same right away.

And unfortunately for him, he wasn't.

It was made clear early on in this NFL season that RGIII wasn't 100 percent comfortable on his right leg. He refused to push off his back leg when throwing the ball, and he would choose not to scramble when in reality he should have. He shouldn't have been lambasted for this, but knowing fans and critics these days, they want results fast.

And this has brought into question whether RGIII really is the Redskins' franchise quarterback. I say he still is and will be for the next decade, so please save your remarks.

Through nine games this season, RGIII has passed for 2,450 yards, 12 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Rushing-wise, he has run for 301 yards and zero touchdowns. Currently, he is on pace for 4,355 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and 535 rushing yards. Last time I checked, those are very good numbers.

Now people may be critical about RGIII's turnovers, but what they need to know is that it comes with the territory. And what I mean by that is in 2013, the Redskins quarterback has thrown the ball, on average, 37 times each game — 11 more than his rookie season. The increased number of passes has come from the need for him to throw the ball because of the Redskins' lack of defensive play. This year, the Redskins' defense ranks 27th in total yards allowed and second in points allowed per game (31.9). With the defense giving up major yards and points early, the 'Skins find themselves in a hole and rely on their second year quarterback to dig them out. And, naturally, with more pass attempts comes more turnovers.

Having a torn ACL and surgery traditionally takes — minus freak-of-nature RB Adrian Peterson — a year to come back from. And for many it takes even longer to come back and play well. RGIII came back after nine months, and hasn't been playing poorly. He just required some time to get comfortable on his right knee again and to get acclimated to NFL play after missing the preseason.

And with each week the second year quarterback has been progressively getting better.

Despite his slow start and having a pathetic offensive line, RGIII has completed 71.9 and 64.9 percent of his throws his last two games, and in the latter of the two, he threw for 281 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Also coming in his last few games were game-winning drives against the Chicago Bears and San Diego Chargers — two very formidable opponents. In Washington's last game against the Minnesota Vikings, RGIII came five yards shy of leading an 80-yard, overtime-forcing drive.

I'm really not sure what else you can ask for a quarterback to do, especially one who has no protection or is forced to throw the ball 40 times a game even with a top five running back.

So for those who are ready to send RGIII to the guillotine, let's all take a long, deep breath and relax. He's Washington's guy.

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