Not Like Those Before Him…A Cautionary Tale for Robert Griffin III


Not all running QB's are the same regardless of how hard some try to put them all in the same box.

They are both from Texas, both very successful college quarterbacks and both with a knack for running. But before they can begin let’s go ahead and put any comparisons between the two to rest. Robert Griffin III is not Vince Young.

Vince Young didn't win his conference's offensive player of the week award in his first start, as Robert Griffin III did.

Young needed to wait until his 12th.

That December day in 2006 was also his sixth straight victory for a Tennessee team that surged with its rookie. At the end of the season, Young was again rewarded, with a Pro Bowl berth and the NFL's offensive rookie of the year honor. Griffin, today, seems headed for the same.

But what followed is a cautionary tale for Griffin, as well as an outline of their differences. Young is out of the league, cut by Buffalo and passed on by everyone else, because he doesn't have what Griffin has.

A pro-style arm. And a professional head.

Griffin will struggle eventually, too. “He's still absorbing,” Mike Shanahan told reporters in Washington, and that means Griffin will absorb some punishment.

If it doesn't come soon, it won't be because the teams aren't aiming at him. His success thus far gave him a nifty accessory to go along with his Superman socks…a target on his back.

That's something else Griffin has over Young: A coach who wanted him and knows how he wants to use him. Young was never Fisher's choice in Tennessee. Shanahan, with a proven record with quarterbacks, targeted Griffin and has tied his future to his.

Maybe all of this gets back to basic combine skills. After all, these athletic Texans are a lot alike, but they aren't the same. There were divided camps on Young when he was the third overall selection in 2006, and there were none when Griffin went second last spring.

Griffin won the Alamo Bowl instead of the national championship in his last game. But what he displayed while elevating Baylor won him not only the Heisman, but also high marks from scouts.

His delivery is traditional and accurate, and he mostly runs only when forced. Young, sensational with the zone read, never seemed to be a conventional NFL fit.

Their respective offensive player of the week awards told of that. Griffin, the first quarterback to win the award in a debut, had a quarterback rating of nearly 140. Young was under 100.

Still, in Young's game in 2006, he took the Titans on a 99-yard, game-winning drive. He showed then what he had at Texas, which was a knack for winning. The promise was still there last season after he left Tennessee to play behind Michael Vick in Philadelphia.

“The one thing that you know about Vince Young,” Andy Reid said then, “is that he wins football games.”

If anyone should have been able to plug into Young's strengths, it should have been Reid, a quarterback-friendly coach. Yet all Young did last season was blurt out the dream-team quote that saddled the Eagles.

Now the onetime big-game marvel is unemployed, with maybe the Canadian Football League as his only option. And if one reason is his sidearm throwing motion, another is an attitude that has often been as erratic.

Anyone who knew Griffin at Baylor knew he wasn't that, and he's been the same as a pro. His greatest asset, a Washington Post columnist wrote this week, “is not his legs or his arm, but his head. By all accounts, he is working hard to keep it from being turned.”

He's been asking Redskins veterans for advice, when he hasn't been calling retired NFL quarterbacks. “He's trying to find out, always learning, leaving no stone unturned,” Shanahan said.

That doesn't mean Griffin will repeat his first game throughout. That also doesn't mean he will win the rookie of the year award that Young won; Andrew Luck might prove to be a better first-year quarterback.

What it means right now: Griffin is not Young.

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.