Robert Griffin III's preseason came to an end last weekend after just three games. That's all the experience he will take into his rookie season under center for the Redskins. That begins Sept. 9 in a game at defending NFC South champion New Orleans.
So it's one of the big questions of the NFL season: Can Griffin adapt to the NFL game right away, or is there a big learning curve that could limit the Redskins' ceiling -- at least for the 2012 season. He has the physical tools to do it. And we saw Cam Newton make a tremendous impact for the Carolina Panthers last season as a rookie.
But as good as Griffin is in the open field, his skill set is different. He's nowhere near as big or strong as Newton, who morphs into a terrifying running back when he turns the corner. RGIII, while he can use his legs as a weapon, can make plays on the run out of the pocket, too, and has deft touch on deep balls. But will opposing defenses allow it?
"I think that [Griffin] will have an immediate impact," NBC football analyst Tony Dungy said this week. "Mike Shanahan -- his offenses have always been drawn up for a guy like this. You can go back to John Elway. Mobile quarterbacks with strong arms who can use the running game and their legs. That's what it's designed for, and we've seen what Cam Newton and some of the other young quarterbacks did last year. I think you're going to see [Colts quarterback] Andrew Luck and RGIII have big, big payoffs early on in the season."
Now the next question: Is his presence alone enough to lift Washington to the playoffs? Exactly zero of ESPN's 28 NFL analysts predicted the Redskins to make it there this season. This remains a work-in-progress for Shanahan, and the experts don't think the talent level is there yet. Dungy agrees.
"Well, that NFC is tough. They've got to pass a lot of teams," Dungy said. "I don't think they'll make the playoffs this year, but I think they'll make a big improvement."
- Brian McNally