|Griffin will out perform Luck in 2012. Book it. (Getty Images)|
On Friday night, the Redskins made the bold move to deal more than three first-round picks to the Rams in exchange for the rights to draft Robert Griffin III. It was the inevitable move, something I (and many others) already projected in mock drafts. But it was also the smart move, and it's going to pay immediate dividends when RG3 looks better than Andrew Luck in 2012.
No, I'm not saying that Griffin will be better than Luck over the long haul. Luck's going to be fantastic and he's going to win a lot of games in a Colts uniform.
But next year, Griffin will win more games for the Redskins. And it's not just because Griffin is a special talent. The personnel on the Redskins is superior to what the Colts have, and the system that Griffin's going into perfectly fits his skillset.
Last season, according to Pro Football Focus, Rex Grossman attempted the 11th-most deep passes (this includes anything over 20 yards) of any quarterback in the NFL. This is despite only starting 13 games, of course. He was tied with Aaron Rodgers, and ahead of Tom Brady. Unlike Rodgers, who completed 60.7 percent of those passes, Grossman was horribly inaccurate, connecting with a receiver down the field just 37.7 percent of the time.
Do you know who is not horribly inaccurate? Your 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin. If you don't know that, then you didn't see his game-winning touchdown pass against Oklahoma in November.
With 19 seconds left on the clock and the Bears tied up with the fifth-ranked Sooners at 38 all, Griffin took a snap out of shotgun, was pressured, calmly stepped up and to his left and threw an absolute dart 35 yards down the field, through two Sooner defenders and into the hands of Terrence Williams into the end zone.
It was the capper to a 479-yard, four-touchdown performance. Decent day. Being athletic and having accuracy down the field doesn't make RG3 a unique talent though. Lots of quarterbacks are fast and are capable of hitting targets deep down the field. But most of these quarterbacks don't play in Mike Shanahan's system, which is primarily predicated on rollout and play-action passes down the field.
Quarterbacks who succeed under Shanahan need to be cerebral, they need to be athletic, and they need to possess the inherent ability to look downfield while being mobile. This is Robert Griffin in a nutshell. Many will paint him as a "spread quarterback" or a "system guy" or a "run-first quarterback" or something else inherently stereotypical. (There's a not-so-subtle racial component to this that's an entirely different can of worms.) He is not that type of quarterback -- he understands offenses, he's willing to stand in the pocket and complete passes, and it just so happens that he's ridiculously fast and athletic.
He is, for the purposes of what Washington wants to run, ultimately going to look like Jake Plummer on steroids. (Only without, you know, actual steroids.) He will start from day one, and he will perform at a surprisingly high level.
But so will Andrew Luck. He's a very talented kid, a very smart quarterback and a very good athlete in his own right. However, he's going to be at a disadvantage relative to Griffin in 2012.
For starters, he's sliding into a new system. (So is Griffin, but it's a more easily adaptable one.) Granted, Luck will have Bruce Arians as his offensive coordinator and that's good news. Arians last worked for the Colts in 1998 as their quarterbacks coach. You may recall a certain gentleman who was a rookie that year.
The recently-released Peyton Manning led the league in passing attempts that season and set rookie marks for passing yards, passing attempts and completions. But Manning still only completed 56.7 percent of his passes and led the league in interceptions.
And he did this despite having Marshall Faulk and Marvin Harrison on the same roster. Luck will have to succeed without the help of, well, anyone. The Colts dumped another slew of players on Friday afternoon, releasing Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai, most notably.
Pierre Garcon declined a five-year contract (for some ridiculous reason) and Reggie Wayne is already planning a reunion with Peyton. Jeff Saturday is gone as well.
My colleague Ryan Wilson believes the Colts will be better than most people believe in 2012. I adamantly disagree and mainly because this is the worst roster in the NFL. Andrew Luck might be a incredible quarterback prospect, and he might be a worthy face-of-the-franchise guy. But he is not a savior or a miracle worker in the literal sense. He will produce solid numbers, but he will make mistakes and he won't have any help around him, barring a surprising number of free agent flocking to Indy in 2012.
Washington's roster, of course, is not without its faults. After all, it's not just the direct competition with Eli that drove Peyton away from the 'Skins and forced them to make a play for the No. 2 pick.
Washington's wide receivers are a joke, all due respect to Jabar Gaffney. But they'll reportedly target a "high-profile wideout," and bringing one in should be much easier thanks to the eventual presence of Griffin on the roster. Vincent Jackson might end up going somewhere closer to a beach for surfing purposes, but he'll at least consider the nation's capitol with RG3 there. (A really smart move for Washington? Sign one higher-profile guy and then steal Laurent Robinson away from the Cowboys.)
The defense needs some work as well, and the offensive line is far from solidified. But the latter is a unit that can be tailored to work in Shanny's system, and they actually started looking pretty good once Shanahan gave up on trying to make Ryan Torain his next great running back and let Roy Helu run wild late in 2011.
In a seven-game stretch from Week 8 to Week 14, Helu averaged 4.2 yards per carry, five receptions a game, and 106 yards from scrimmage (72 rushing, 34 receiving). If he can carry over that success into 2012, the Redskins offense could be, dare I say, potent.
Perhaps more importantly, Helu would almost unequivocally be the best skill-position on the Colts not named Luck were he to switch rosters. That's not a compliment to Helu, it's an indictment of the roster in Indy.
And that's fine, because they're doing a total facelift on the organization. Slamming the reset button is a much-needed and ultimately necessary move by the organization.
However, it's going to create football's version of a skeleton crew for the Colts in 2012. And no matter how good Luck is, he simply won't be able to overcome the roster's deficiencies next season.
Griffin won't have that problem. And Luck, I believe, will end up having the better performance over the course of his career.
But in 2012, it will appear as if the Colts made the wrong choice on the impossible-to-lose coin flip that is the choice between Luck and Griffin, because Griffin will shake the typical trend and become the rare No. 2-overall quarterback who outperforms the guy taken above him.