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Excuse me if I’m just a tad skeptical that Robert Griffin III will be deployed in the same breakneck, devil-may-care, multi-threat fashion he was during his rookie campaign.
That’s what many in the Washington front office might have us believe: Perhaps the most important player in franchise history, considering what the team invested in RGIII, is going to be flung around like a rag doll in 2014 because the coaching staff doesn’t want him to be anything resembling a pocket passer.
Let’s take a moment to remember what it’s been like for Griffin’s body during his time in Washington.
New Washington head coach Jay Gruden has said it would be downright “foolish” for the team to mold Griffin into someone who makes (most of) his living in the pocket, using the strong, accurate arm he displayed before the devastating ACL injury that may or may not have ruined his throwing mechanics.
“I’m not going to try to turn RGIII into Andy Dalton or Drew Brees. He isn’t them. They’re not him. I would be foolish to try to turn RGIII into a pocket passer. It would be foolish,” Gruden said in an interview with NFL Network. “The way he is as a runner, we have to take advantage of that. He strikes fear into defensive coordinators when he runs outside. I’m going to let him be himself.”
We heard the same utterances from the Mike Shanahan regime in the months leading up to the 2013 campaign, and that commitment to letting Robert be Robert led to the second-year signal caller running — either by design or in scramble mode — on 16.2 percent of his 2013 snaps.
Griffin rushed on 25.7 percent of his 2012 snaps on his way to 815 rushing yards and seven scores on the ground.
For the purposes of this article, and evaluating Griffin’s 2014 prospects, let’s assume Washington coaches aren’t going to launch their quarterback into the teeth of awaiting defenders on one in every four offensive plays.
I think it’s worth asking how Griffin has fared as a pocket passer during his first two years as a pro. Probably it’s unfair to judge his 2013 season, as he was rushed back from a horrific knee injury and expected by fans and fantasy owners alike to bounce back like the machine we call Adrian Peterson.
Below is fantasy points per aimed throw (FPAT) breakdown of Griffin’s 2012 and 2013 seasons. Fantasy writers here at XN Sports have already done FPAT analysis on Jay Cutler and the most efficient quarterbacks of 2013.
|Player||Season||FPAT||Yards per attempt|
|Robert Griffin III||2012||.52||8.15 (1st)|
|Robert Griffin III||2013||.40||7.02 (14th)|
The difference in FPAT, as you may have expected, is pretty startling. Griffin’s 2012 FPAT wasn’t off the charts by any definition (excellent FPAT is anything that exceeds .55), but it was right up there with elite fantasy producers. The quarterback’s 2013 FPAT isn’t even mediocre — it’s downright bad.
Guys like Mike Glennon, Case Keenum, and Carson Palmer had higher FPAT numbers than Griffin. Jason Campbell and Kellen Clemens fell just short of RGIII’s FPAT of .40. It all paints something less than a pretty picture.
Your feelings on Griffin as a fantasy producer in 2014 will always come back to whether you believe he can do things he’s never been asked to do. It’s been said that Glennon, for example, is a much more advanced quarterback than RGIII. That’s not to say that Griffin can’t become an elite player — and one who can beat teams from the pocket — but that his evolution as a signal caller isn’t nearly complete.
It may have not even begun.
Griffin is the 11th quarterback off of draft boards right now. He’s being taken in the eighth round of 12-team drafts. If, for instance, he achieves his 2012 FPAT, RGIII would end the season as a top-5 quarterback, proving well worth the investment. That, of course, assumes season-long health and some rushing production.
It seems some risk is now built into Griffin’s fantasy valuation, which is good news for those bullish on the third-year signal caller in Gruden’s offense. I, for one, would need to see much more risk baked into his average draft position before I invest in a guy with such a schizophrenic — though short — FPAT history.
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