Robert Griffin III made quite the impact in his first regular season game of his career on Sunday. The no. 2 overall selection from last April's draft went 19/26 with 320 yards in Washingotn's 40-32 away victory over New Orleans.
It was a fine all-around performance that began with Washington's very first drive, when Griffin III went 6 for 6 and the Redskins kicked a field goal. On the very first play of their following drive the rookie quarterback found Pierre Garçon up the middle for an 88-yard touchdown. The first of the Redskins' 2012 season, the first of Garçon's 2012 season, and the first of Robert Griffin III's career.
The performance should come as a reprieve to Redskins fans that have had to sit through a carousel of quarterbacks that few other teams could complain about. From Danny Wuerffel to Patrick Ramsey to Jason Campbell to Rex Grossman, with a whole lot of nothing in between the cracks, the Redskins have been a joke for far too long. They have made the playoffs twice since 1999, but they haven't been a serious competitor since Norv Turner was roving the sidelines.
On the flip side the performance should come as a sign of things to come for a New Orleans Saints team that might already be showing signs of distress. With Sean Payton suspended for the entire season, interim head coach Joe Vitt did the best with what he had, but his defense was trying to catch up with Griffin III all day. To New Orleans' credit, they started playing better after the first half and managed to come within 8 points in the 4th quarter, but Washington scored a consistent 10 points per quarter, consistently pushing the ball upfield. It proved to be simply too much for New Orleans. All of the problems that the Saints defense has displayed for the last few years - the shoddy tackling, the Swiss cheese secondary, the ingrained lack of discipline - all of it was exploited by a Washington Redskin squad that we all of the sudden have to remind ourselves is still coached by two-time Super Bowl champion Mike Shanahan.
Only Cam Newtown threw for more yards in a professional debut when he threw for 422 yards in week 1 of last season. Griffin III still threw more than Peyton Manning threw for in his professional debut.
Don't look now, but Mike Shanahan finally has a quarterback; one who has all of the tools Michael Vick has but with none of the crazy. If this truly is a sign of things to come, and Griffin III can be as good as Cam Newton was last year, then watch out for the Washington Redskins. With the Cowboys defeating the defending champion New York Giants on their own field last Wednesday and Philadelphia struggling against the Cleveland Browns all day Sunday, the power structure in the NFC East could be completely shaken up once again.
Stay tuned. The NFL is back.757161